Zimbabwe like most African countries has been experiencing increased urbanization which has resulted in urban local authorities finding it difficult to cope with the rapid increase in demand for services such as water and housing. Consequently, Zimbabwe has begun to experience an increase in informal settlements in all urban settings, a situation that was unimaginable 15 years ago. The increase in informal settlements as well as new settlements has resulted in a huge demand for water which most cities and towns are unable to provide given the dire economic situation Zimbabwe has been for the past 20 years.

Zimbabwean cities have therefore been affected by water borne diseases in recent years and are always under constant threat from cholera, typhoid etc. Zimbabwean cities have also been prone natural disasters such as floods, cyclones.

UN-Habitat focus in Zimbabwe since the establishment of the office in 2006 has been on supported urban governance, housing regulations and policies, capacities in urban planning, water and sanitation in peri urban settlements and city resilience strategies.


There is a rapid increase in informal settlements in urban settings over the past 10 years, according to the UNDP Country Report of 2014 at 60 % of the urban dwellers were living in informal settlements with the majority living in extremely poor conditions. Zimbabwe is facing serious water and sanitation challenges and has in recent years seen death of over 6000 from cholera and other water borne diseases in urban areas. The country is also afflicted by urban poverty, unemployment and insecurity for the vulnerable.

Urban numbers

Urban Population (2018): 32.2%

Urban Growth Rate (2015-2020): 2.19%

The urban population annual growth rate is 2.14%


Global Water Challenge
  • Total value of UN-Habitat investments (2008-2013): US$ 508,422
  • Total number of UN-Habitat projects (2008-2013): 2 projects
  • Main donors: European Union, UNDP Zimbabwe & United Kingdom
  • Implementing partners: UNDP, Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ)

General information

Capital: Harare

Major cities: Harare, Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Mutare, Gweru, Epworth, Kwekwe,  Kadoma, Masvingo, Chinhoyi.

  • Population: 13.72 Million
  • GDP: US$ 9.802 Billion
  • GDP growth: 4.4%
  • Urban population (annual %): 39%
  • Population growth rate (average annual %): 2.7%
  • Urban population growth rate (average annual %): 4.0%
  • Rural population growth rate (average annual %): 1.9%

Source: World Bank 2012

UN-Habitat projects in Zimbabwe

Strengthening Citizenship Participation in Urban Local Governance   

  • Duration: September 2010 - December 2013    
  • Value: US$ 408,952    
  • Donor: European Union   
  • Implementing partners: UNDP, Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ)     
  • Location: Bulawayo, Gweru, Kwekwe, Masvingo, Kadoma

Support to Zimbabwe Local Government Association and strengthening citizen participation in urban local governance    

Building capacity of UCAZ Core Team and delivery of a Training of Trainers Session.   

  • Duration: July 2008 - December 2012    
  • Value: US$ 99,470    
  • Donor: UNDP Zimbabwe & United Kingdom  
  • Implementing partners: Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ)  


A woman and her children stands in front of a tent after being evicted in Muranbatsvin, Zimbabwe. © UN-Habitat

Case Study 3: Water Operators’ Partnerships in Africa

New Picture (5)A water operators’ partnership (WOP) is a collaboration between two or more water or sanitation operators, conducted on a not-for-profit basis, in the aim of developing their capacity. These partnerships are being used as a way of helping the world’s public operators to sustainably deliver adequate water and sanitation for all. This is one of a new set of Case Studies on WOPs in Africa, which follows a set of three Cases on WOPs in Asia published in 2012.