Inclusive cities of the future – SIX & Hivos collaborate in Zimbabwe

The Challenge

In cities across the world, citizens are looking for new ideas and ways to solve big social challenges. And Zimbabweans are no different. With a booming population, urban residents in Harare face a myriad of challenges- from air and water pollution, housing, water and electricity shortages, limited public transport, and damaged public spaces combined with high levels of unemployment and poverty. All this amid a context of increasingly limited public budgets, political tensions, a breakdown of essential service provision, disheartened civil society and increasingly complex social challenges- there is an urgent need to think differently and creatively and work in new ways.   

There is a global movement of citizen-led rehabilitative interventions with people looking towards social innovation for new and better ideas to create more sustainable and inclusive cities. The challenge is that the best examples are not well known. This global community does not effectively highlight, connect or support these innovators to come together and thrive. 

SIX’s contribution

In May 2016, SIX and Hivos hosted a workshop in Harare to bring together local and international experts to explore the opportunities and challenges for building inclusive cities in Zimbabwe. Using learning examples from across the globe, we explored how citizens can be more involved in designing urban spaces and transforming the city into thriving spaces that work for all. 

This workshop built on Hivos Zimbabwe Office’s ‘Inclusive Cities’ project, an initiative that over the past year has researched and located community-led regenerative and rehabilitative initiatives to find new ways to correct the problems that plague urban spaces in Zimbabwe innovatively, creatively and sustainably for current and future generations. From the new mural on Speke Avenue to participatory meeting with key stakeholders in three municipalities- this project has sought to not only to open up a dialogue but also to show what is possible with community- driven rehabilitative projects.

This was als the third and final gathering in our collaboration with Hivos in our series of work in Africa, helping to connect innovators across the region to each other and to the global field of social innovation.

The two-day gathering brought together 30 participants from across the country and the region – a mix of urban planners, artists, members of local councils and municipal governments, local residents associations and a member of Parliament.

Key discussion questions 

· How can citizens be engaged to contribute to developing solutions for urban problems?

· How can we help shape the right conditions to support urban innovations to thrive?

· What needs to change at the community, municipal, and national level to create more inclusive cities?


SIX partnered for the event with Hivos Harare office to host this event. It was part of a programme of work in 2014-16 which aimed to increase exchange and learning between social innovation and international development communities across Africa.

To learn about the insights from this event, click here