The City of Bulawayo has established a joint City fund with the Alliance of Dialogue on Shelter for the Homeless Trust and the Bulawayo Chapter of the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation (uMfelandawonye), whose main objective is to initiate an inclusive financial vehicle for the upgrading of low-income settlements within the city.
“The City Fund dubbed ‘Ntuthuko Community Upgrading Fund is a culmination of a very long journey of a partnership formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2015,” said George Masimba Nyama, the Dialogue on Shelter Trust Director of Programmes.
He highlighted that in 2018, the partnership piloted a sanitation upgrading intervention in Iminyela and Mabutweni Suburbs where 319 toilets were constructed extending individualised sanitation connections to families that had for years relied on shared facilities.
Mr Nyama added that besides improving sanitation, the upgrading initiative in Iminyela and Mabuthweni provided opportunities for securing land tenure as individualised sanitation connections were made conditional for addressing legal title. Under the project, communities with support from the Alliance of Dialogue on Shelter and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation provided construction materials whilst Bulawayo City Council supervised the works.
The significance of this sanitation pilot was that it offered a perfect platform to test out and make a case for co-production of services. The partnership has now escalated this collaboration through institutionalising a citywide community upgrading fund that seeks to scale up partnership activities carried out so far. The community upgrading fund is being initially capitalised to the tune of US$50,000.00 through support from Development Innovations Group (DIG) – a US-based organisation and will finance livelihoods, housing and community infrastructure projects jointly identified by the partnership,” he said.
He added that the livelihoods financial support from the City Fund will be accessed by community members affiliated into solidarity groups with a minimum of five people with each individual accessing a maximum of US$300.00. The group mechanism will help ensure that the funds are directed towards intended developmental purposes while at the same time establishing enduring networks that are key for addressing a range of community needs.
On a global level, co-created financial tools that blend municipal and community funds have become an attractive alternative for realising financial inclusion and resilience in Cities. That is, jointly designed City funds have provided realistic pathways for achieving especially the goal number eleven of the Sustainable Development Goals of making Cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
In addition, the joint decision-making processes involved around identifying and prioritising upgrading interventions, also offer immense scope for furthering an inclusive municipal governance agenda consistent with the provisions of the country’s Urban Councils Act. The partnership also views the City Fund initiative as a very unique opportunity to learn on co-produced financing modalities that are tested, embraced and then potentially scaled up on citywide level with more financial investments.
Meanwhile, infrastructure support will focus on largely small-scale investments such as upgrading of community market stalls, communal water points and on-site sanitation improvements. Considering the need to learn from this journey the partnership will be collaborating with National University of Science and Technology’s Faculty of the Built Environment so as to document and capture valuable lessons. The bigger picture is for such important experiences to become critical evidence that informs urban practice and policies in response to the growing challenges of urban informality confronting most cities beyond Bulawayo.