Unearthing Exclusions: Toward More Inclusive Zimbabwean Cities

Some 40% of Zimbabwe's 12 million inhabitants live in cities. This number is expected to grow at a rate of approximately 4% per year. The population of Harare, Zimbabwe's largest city has grown four-fold in the past 30 years. But the country's urban infrastructure has not kept pace with this growth. In fact, Zimbabwe' cities are remnants of a colonial past when cities were largely built to serve the labour needs of a settler minority. The expectation was that most of the population would remain in rural areas. Zimbabwe now faces significant challenges associated with urban overcrowding, unemployment, violence, and inadequate services. This project seeks to examine the causes and impacts of urban violence and inequalities. Researchers will explore how historically rooted causes of exclusion have-and continue to-frame state policy. The project will place particular emphasis on examining the relationship between unemployment, overcrowding, violence, the lack of services, and gender-based inequalities. The research aims to contribute to the development of more gender-sensitive laws, policies, and practices for the urban poor. This will help empower Zimbabwean women who face harassment, various forms of violence (including sexual violence), robberies, theft, and limited or no access to housing and other basic services. More specifically, the project will investigate how current laws, policies, and practices fail to take into account-and may even act to reinforce-violence, poverty, and inequalities for Zimbabwean women living in cities. The research team will use a range of qualitative and participatory methods to assess how current state and municipal laws and policies on housing, informal settlements (slums), basic services delivery, and infrastructure are applied. Researchers will also evaluate the impact these laws and policies have had on the security of poor women, examining security and justice institutions, such as the police and courts. Results will be shared with policymakers, government officials, and communities through a variety of outputs, including peer-reviewed publications, documentary films, and short skits. This project is part of the Safe and Inclusive Cities (SAIC) research initiative designed to build an evidence base on the connections between urban violence, poverty, and inequalities. Jointly funded by IDRC and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, the SAIC program also seeks to identify the most effective strategies for addressing these challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Friday, December 21, 2012


36 months

IDRC Officer

Adrian Di Giovanni

Total funding

CA$ 500,000


Zimbabwe, United Kingdom, Canada, South of Sahara


Governance and Justice, Safe and Inclusive Cities

Project Leader

Matt Stenson

Project Leader

Mihaela Chindea



Institution Country


Institution Website