Core Values

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

Poorest of the poor - this is one of the fundamental values that define the uMfelandawonye concept. Essentially, what this entails is that the framing of development solutions has to take into account what the poorest member in a savings scheme can afford. In the other words, the agenda of the defines the process and all its terms. The logic behind this is that whatever works for the poorest will work for everyone. In practice, this means that standards and benchmarks regarding the quantum of daily savings contributions, amount of business loan, loan repayments, size of house and type and levels of infrastructure services are defined from the bottom up. It is through commitment to this value that the Federation process remains true to its purpose which is to offer an alternative affordable option for the poor to realize 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 the poor households are women-headed and invariably women face and bear the bulk of the 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 and this has been evidenced by women not only dominating the network numerically but also tactically positioned in strategic decision-making spaces. This status quo is reflected right from the savings scheme to the national leadership positions and enables the organization to be sensitive to the need for addressing past and existing asymmetries attributable to socially-constructed gender myths and many other forms of discrimination against women. That women have also faced the brunt of poverty, also places in a better space to address it. Furthermore, it has also been observed through uMfelandawonye experience that women are less likely to misuse common savings than their male counterparts hence they are the once who manage a majority of the savings schemes. However, notwithstanding this positive bias in favor of women, the uMfelandawonye process is also alive to the fact such a process has  the potential to tamper with the power scales. To this end, men are not excluded and there is an acknowledgement  they also play a critical part in the ‘development puzzle’ as most of these women who are supposed to champion development come from households that are led by men.

Centrality of the role of womenActive community involvement - there 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

Mailing List