Core Values.

Over the years, the alliance of Dialogue on Shelter and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation has developed its own set of values whose main agenda is to ensure that the process remains relevant to the poor. It is on the basis of this background that these norms and values have formed.

Poorest of the poor

This is one of the most fundamental values that define the "uMfelandawonye" concept. Essentially, it entails that the framing of development solutions must take into account what the poorest member in a savings scheme can afford. The logic behind this is that whatever works for the poorest will also work for everyone. This means that standards as well as benchmarks regarding the quantum of daily savings contributions, amount of business loans, loan repayments, sizes of houses and types and levels of infrastructural services are defined from the bottom up. Through commitment to this value, the Federation process remains true to its purpose which is to offer an alternative affordable option for the poor to realise their development aspirations. In addition, benchmarking on the basis of what the poorest of the poor can afford also serves as an internally generated screening tool which effectively eliminates opportunists who ordinarily would not qualify as poor. 

Centrality of the role of women 

A majority of poor households are women-headed. Invariably, women face and bear the bulk of problems that are as a result of poverty even when they are in a male-headed family unit. As a result of this trend, the Federation puts women at the centre of its process. This has been evidenced by women not only dominating the network numerically, but also tactically positioned in strategic decision-making spaces. The status quo is reflected right from the savings scheme to national leadership positions. This enables the organisation to be sensitive to the need for addressing past and existing asymmetries attributable to socially-constructed gender myths among many other forms of discrimination against women. The fact that women face the brunt of poverty also places the Federation process in a better space to address this. Furthermore, it has also been observed through experience from "uMfelandawonye" that women are less likely to misuse common savings than their male counterparts. Hence, women are the ones who manage the majority of the savings schemes. However, notwithstanding this positive bias in favor of women, the uMfelandawonye process is also alive to the fact that such a process has the potential to tamper with the power scales. Thus, men are not excluded and there is an acknowledgement that they also play a critical part in the "development puzzle" as most of the women who are supposed to champion development come from households that are led by men.

Active community involvement


Centrality of the role of womenThere is also an acceptance within the Federation model that community participation is very broad and that in nine out of ten times what is presented as participation is usually and purely ornamental. It is against this backdrop that the Federation does not present the mere statistics as participation but rather insists on active engagement of the poor. The latter, is done at a level where the poor not only identify the problem but also define the solution and implement the resulting development programmes. This significance of this approach is that it radically empowers poor communities to the extent that they themselves become agents of change. Thus, meaningful engagement helps to ensure that the incremental small steps and the choices that poor communities take are linked to the development outcomes. At best, this connection is very transformational and at worst the failure to discern such a relationship between their actions and the outputs is very  alienating and disempowering. The active involvement of the poor also helps to harness the creativity and energies of the poor through ideas, material, financial and labour resources. The net effect of this active inclusion of the poor is that not only does it promote ownership, but it also lowers the ultimate development costs.

ZW Office Contacts

Dialogue on Shelter for the Homeless in Zimbabwe Trust
Physical Address: 13 Harvey Brown, Milton Park
Harare, Zimbabwe

Telephone: (+263) 4 790935/(+263) 4 2600612-3
Fax: (+263)4 790935

SDI Offices Contacts

Slum Dwellers International (SDI)
Physical Address: 1st Floor, Campground Centre, Cnr. Surrey & Raapenberg Roads, Mowbray, 7700
Cape Town, South Africa
Telephone: (+27) 21 689 9408
Fax: (+27) 21 689 3912

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