Accountable Democratic Action (ADA) through Social Cohesion

The USAID-funded ADA Program focused on creating social cohesion by informing citizens living in informal settlements of their constitutional rights to housing and basic services. DIG worked with approximately 200,000 residents of 35 informal settlements across Zimbabwe (Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Kadoma, and Epworth). Collaborating with Dialogue on Shelter, a Slum Dwellers International affiliate, the ADA program team successfully mobilized slum dwellers into 100+ women-led solidarity groups. This allowed them to peacefully engage with government authorities and advocate to protect their rights. Local and national decision-makers’ increased accountability regarding constitutional provisions protected the urban poor’s rights to shelter and basic services.

Unprecedented partnerships were secured with the five target local authorities, wherein city officials agreed to collaborate with communities to upgrade slums instead of resorting to evictions and violence as a solution. As a result, evictions threats dropped in target areas from 26 in the first two years of the program to 3 threats in the third and final year. Local authorities in Masvingo and Bulawayo also partnered with Dialogue on Shelter and the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation to create city funds that provided loans to informal settlers to improve their income generating activities and land security. With support from ADA, solidarity groups undertook collective savings and lending, enhancing community members’ self-reliance and resilience.

The Program also helped informal settlers better protect their rights via legal advice, training, and formal legal representation. Finally, ADA provided psychosocial training and support services to program beneficiaries who have suffered from eviction-related trauma. (2018-2021)

Related Projects