Informal development is now penetrating the formerly exclusive suburbs of Harare, Zimbabwe’s main city. lLike many colonial cities the early planning of Harare sought to segregate areas by class and ethnicity. However, urbanisation and poverty are now resulting in green spaces in low density suburbs becoming the focus for informal housing that brings the poor to the doorsteps of the rich.
An article in Cities how Zimbabwe’s long drwn out economic crisis has helped push people from the land in the hope of finding better opportunities in the city. However, there has not been provision of landand services in Harare to accommodate the new arrivals. Land occupation and informal development is the inevitable result. A decade ago the authorities used planning legislation to forcibly evict some 700,000 people whose dwellings were deemed to be a blight on the city’s amenity. as the article shows there are still influential planners who take the view that these “slums” should be swept away and their occupants forced back to the countryside.
However, the article also describes some citizen-led intiatives through which community members are setting their own priorities for planning, housing and sanitation. It makes the case for an inclusive approach in whcih planning works with informality to support the livelihoods of poor people.