Zimbabwe's capital city Harare
Harare urban farming
Zimbabwe forced evictions
Forced evictions in Africa
Ghana mayors not accountable to people
Migration in Mauritania
Canary Islands refugee crisis
Megacities - Africa
Cities and Planet Earth
City of Durban
City Mayors reports news from towns and cities around the world. Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa | Events |
Mayors from The Americas, Europe. Asia, Australia and Africa are competing for the annual World Mayor Award. More
City Mayors ranks the world’s largest as well as richest cities and urban areas. It also ranks the cities in individual countries, and provides a list of the capital cities of some 200 sovereign countries. More
City Mayors reports political events, analyses the issues and depicts the main players. More
City Mayors describes and explains the structures and workings of local government in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. More
City Mayors profiles city leaders from around the world and questions them about their achievements, policies and aims. More
City Mayors deals with economic and investment issues affecting towns and cities. More
City Mayors reports on how business developments impact on cities and examines cooperation between cities and the private sector. More
City Mayors describes and explains financial issues affecting local government. More
City Mayors lists and features urban events, conferences and conventions aimed at urban decision makers and those with an interst in cities worldwide. More
City Mayors reports urban environmental developments and examines the challenges faced by cities worldwide. More
City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries. More
City Mayors reports on developments in urban society and behaviour and reviews relevant research. More
City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems. More
City Mayors examines education issues and policies affecting children and adults in urban areas. More
City Mayors investigates health issues affecting urban areas with an emphasis on health in cities in developing countries. More
City Mayors examines the importance of urban tourism to city economies. More
City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment. More
City Mayors describes the history, architecture and politics of the greatest city halls in the world. More
City Mayors invites readers to write short stories about people in cities around the world. More
City Mayors questions those who govern the world’s cities and talks to men and women who contribute to urban society and environment. More
City Mayors profiles national and international organisations representing cities as well as those dealing with urban issues. More
City Mayors reports on major national and international sporting events and their impact on cities. More
City Mayors lists cities and city organisations, profiles individual mayors and provides information on hundreds of urban events. More
Harare’s middle-class residents take up
urban farming to counter food shortages
A report by IRIN
10 January 2007: Urban faming, widely practiced by the poor and lower-income groups in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, is fast becoming de rigeur among the city's wealthy set. In affluent suburbs like Avondale and Mabelreign, maize and vegetable plots are sprouting up to counter expected food shortages brought on by an economic meltdown that has seen the inflation rate remaining well above 1,000 per cent, the highest in the world.
With unemployment estimated at above 80 per cent and basic foodstuffs becoming unaffordable even for those who have jobs, vacant lots are fast being turned into agricultural plots. Tatenda Muzenda, a domestic helper in Cotswold Hills, a middle-class suburb said: "I was so desperate to grow maize that I went and planted some maize seeds on the only available open field that I could identify, and that was next to the local police station."
Rather than being cautioned by the police, other residents, some of the officers from the adjacent station and their spouses, followed her lead and began planting crops for themselves. "The wages which I earn are not enough to help me fend for my children. I hope there will be enough rains to enable me to harvest a reasonable yield from the maize crop, part of which I can sell to earn an income for my family," Muzenda said.
In the past, police have uprooted crops being grown on vacant land in the city, but they now seem to be turning a blind eye as the capital goes green.
Harare's middle classes set aside time for urban farming on weekends. Every Saturday morning, Antonio Tshuma, a middle manager at a local commercial bank, parks his company car, a sports utility vehicle, beside a piece of land in the upmarket suburb of Borrowdale, where he tends his crop with the help of his two teenage daughters and his wife, whose immaculate manicured nails appear somewhat incongruous for such activities.
"We anticipate that this coming year might be difficult in terms of food availability. I want to make sure that we don't run out of food by producing as much maize as possible," Tshuma said. Although he can afford fertiliser - unlike many other urban farmers - the plot, covering about two-fifths of a hectare, contains only staple foods like maize and potatoes.
Once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa, Zimbabwe's farming system was disrupted in 2000, when President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government embarked on a fast-track land redistribution exercise that sought to give land to thousands of blacks from impoverished communal areas by removing more than 4,000 commercial white farmers from their farms. The European Union and the United States subsequently imposed limited sanctions on top government officials for human rights violations, and Mugabe's disputed re-election in 2002.
Inadequate government support for the new farmers, such as supplying fertiliser, farming equipment and seeds, has had a severely negative impact on food production and has led to legislation that makes it an offence to move or trade in maize, effectively banning the transport of maize from rural areas to the cities.
"I grew up in the countryside and for years I have been collecting fresh maize and dry maize from my rural home. If the government now says it is illegal to carry maize from my rural home, then I will just have to produce some for myself and my family," Tshuma said.
Suppliers of agricultural inputs in Harare said that most of their clients were now urban farmers. "We have noticed that during the current cropping season most of the people buying maize seed and fertiliser are urban farmers, because they are buying in smaller quantities, an indication that they will only apply it on smaller pieces of land," said an employee at one supplier, who declined to be named.
Although the Harare Municipality officially frowns on urban farming, it also appears to be looking the other way. A recent survey of 15 urban farmers found that they had simply identified open pieces of land and started growing maize without consulting municipal officials, but so far no steps have been taken against them.
However, Harare municipality spokesman Percy Toriro said: "We will not allow people to plant maize anywhere they want. Residents should find out from their local district offices if there is any piece of land where they can practise urban farming. We want to ensure that the environment is well looked after."
The government has consistently denied any food shortages in the country. In late 2006 the state-owned Grain Marketing Board said Zimbabwe was expecting a surplus above its annual cereal requirement of about 1.9 million mt. However, independent estimates suggested that only 800,000mt of maize was produced, or less than half the country's annual requirement.
Contrary to official policy, the City of Harare is turning a blind eye on urban farming
Thousands homeless after Zimbabwe’s forced evictions
A year after Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Filth), the Zimbabwean government's sudden campaign to purge informal settlements, the lives of thousands of those affected have not changed. Uprooted last year from homes built illegally in the capital, Harare, families with five or more members have been squeezed into tiny living spaces authorised by the government on the outskirts of the city, with no source of employment and, in some cases, no access to medical facilities.
At night, families of six or seven often share the mud floor of a temporary shelter or one of the few new government-constructed brick houses - both about 12 square metres - smaller than an average garage. If the families have yet to be allocated a house, they are sometimes crammed into even smaller spaces. Those who failed to make it to the camps have chosen to either reconstruct their demolished dwellings or return to their rural homes.
According to the Zimbabwean government, the operation was aimed at clearing slums and flushing out criminals, but left more than 700,000 people homeless or without a livelihood in the winter of 2005. As yet another winter sets in, living conditions in the open fields serving as resettlement camps around Harare could not be harsher. More