Zimbabwe Plans to Construct High-Rise Buildings in Rural Areas
The Zimbabwean government has announced plans to modernize rural areas by constructing high-rise buildings. This project is part of the government’s housing program to regularize informal settlements created by land barons. Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities Daniel Garwe said that the construction of flats has already begun with the aim of creating smart cities.
Creating Smart Cities
Speaking at the Institute of Architects of Zimbabwe (IAZ) annual conference, Minister Garwe revealed that the government is working on creating smart cities with procedures already in place to realize the dream outside Harare. He noted that the same housing standards applied in urban areas will also be provided in rural areas.
“The government is on the drive to modernise most rural areas through the construction of high-rise buildings which is a phenomenon in the rural district councils. The idea is to enable people to get the services which they are not accessing in the rural areas. This will also decongest most of the towns because people would get what they need at their doorsteps in line with the President’s gospel of leaving no one behind,” said Minister Garwe.
Land is a finite resource that must be safeguarded for future generations, hence, the adoption of the densification policy. Minister Garwe noted that the Zimbabwe National Human Settlement Policy requires that at least 40 percent of the land designated for human settlements must be for high-rise buildings. He further stated that voluntary low-density stand subdivision is permitted and encouraged, provided there is a possibility of sewer reticulation. “When the plots are subdivided into smaller stands, they need to be connected to sewer mains,” he explained.
Role of Architects
The Herald reports that Minister Garwe also challenged architects to think beyond and come up with solutions that are climate change tolerant. “I would like to challenge the architects, as dream makers, to start thinking aloud and imagine how we could modernize these settlements. Climate change effects, antiquated infrastructure for water and sanitation, and also overcrowding, are among a host of other challenges that require a collective approach to tackle. Design experts should observe their surroundings and global best practices and draw lessons from there,” he said.
The Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities’ mandate and vision are clear: provision of modern, sustainable, and affordable human settlements for all Zimbabweans.
“Architecture as a profession plays a pivotal role in complimenting this mandate and making dreams a reality. You are the linchpin in what we envisage as policy makers and the realization of that imagination,” added Minister Garwe.
Regularising Informal Settlements
Minister Garwe also noted that his ministry is currently regularizing informal settlements created by land barons who parceled out state land without putting in essential basic services.
“Regularizing informal settlements is ongoing in areas where land barons had taken advantage of desperate home seekers to fleece their hard-earned money,” he said.
Zimbabwe is taking a bold step in modernizing rural areas through the construction of high-rise buildings. The government’s housing program will not only provide access to services in rural areas but also decongest towns. The role of architects is critical in realizing this dream, and Minister Garwe challenges them to think beyond and come up with solutions that are climate change tolerant.