Mukudzei Chingwere, Blessings Chidakwa and Trust Freddy
Almost 60 percent of Zimbabwean households own their home and more than 83 percent of Zimbabweans now live in modern houses and flats, showing both the high levels of home ownership and the rapid improvement in housing quality as most rural people can now afford to build modern housing.
The latest housing census report shows that just 15,5 percent of households are in traditional pole and dagga dwellings, 1,1 percent in shacks and 0,1 percent living in mobile homes, vans and caravans.
With earlier results from the April census showing that 61 percent of the population lives in rural areas, the simultaneous housing census shows a substantial majority have built themselves modern housing.
The housing census was run simultaneously with the population census in late April by ZimStat, who have now collated the main outline of the housing and basic services such as energy and water, phone and internet access, and waste disposal in Zimbabwe.
Summaries of the housing census were given yesterday by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa after the Cabinet meeting and in more detail in the presentation of the preliminary housing report by Zimstat director general Taguma Mahonde.
Minister Mutsvangwa stressed that the results of the housing census, basically the outline of the living conditions of the entire population, would be critical in ensuring that policy interventions by the Government were based on the actual facts.
The census found that 58,6 percent of people in Zimbabwe live in houses that are owned by their household, 19,3 percent are lodgers renting without formal agreements, 3,1 percent are formal tenants with rent contracts, 9,1 percent stay with a relative, 9,3 percent live in tied accommodation and 0,5 percent constitute other type of residence.
Tied accommodation is usually institutional accommodation such as police camps, defence force housing and the like, or accommodation provided by an employer.
Energy and access to electricity are critical measures of housing. The census found 33,7 percent of the households are using grid electricity, while 28,3 percent are using off-grid electricity such as solar and other sources.
But when it comes to lighting then percentages rocket. Around 91 percent use clean electricity based sources such as grid power, solar, battery powered flash lights or gas for lighting, and just 8 percent are using polluting fuels, such as fire wood, candles, paraffin and oil lamps.
“Government through the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) continues to give access to electricity in rural areas as well as renewable energy,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“The construction and refurbishment of power stations and many other energy projects in Matabeleland North province and hydro-power projects on dams across the country also increases accessibility of electricity.
“Increasing the use of electricity in rural areas will go a long way in achieving the rural industrialisation thrust.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said firewood, at 60,7 percent, remains the main source of energy for cooking, with 38,7 percent of households using other sources such as electricity or gas.
Households with access to hand washing facilities stand at 68,7 percent, and Government has embarked on projects, key among which is the drilling and installation of 35 000 boreholes across the country, one in each village.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said after the Cabinet meeting that Government was worried that the number of people using firewood for cooking was too high.
He said increased investment in the energy sector through issuing licences in the independent power producers is coming.
Giving more details in his presentation Mr Mahonde said the quality of life for Zimbabweans is significantly improving with besides 83 percent living in modern housing the total percentage of houses with electricity on or off grid is now 66 percent and 87 percent of households can access some information and communication Technology.
This comes as Zimbabwe is vigorously pursuing a policy to modernise and industrialise the nation towards vision 2030 to become an upper middle income economy.
Presenting the 2022 census preliminary report on housing characteristics and living conditions, Mr Mahonde said in terms of dwelling units they were categorised as modern and traditional.
“Modern dwelling units include detached, semi-detached, mixed, flats and townhouses, and clustered dwelling units. Traditional dwelling units are old-style family settlements in which buildings are made of pole and dagga.
“Nationally, 83 percent of the dwelling units were modern.
“About 16 percent of the dwelling units were traditional,” he said.
Mr Mahonde said the census looked at the various kinds of material used for construction of dwelling unit walls with the predominant materials for walls observed nationally were finished walls of burnt bricks, cement, cement blocks and shingles which constituted 91,4 percent.
He said natural walls of mud, pole and dagga, cane or tree trunks or no walls constituted 5,5 percent, rudimentary walls were2,8 percent and 0,4 percent for other walls.
Most, 81,4 percent of households had dwelling units with finished roofs of metal, tiles, asbestos, cement and shingles and just 18 percent of households had dwelling units with natural roofs of thatch or no roof.
Nationally, 80,7 percent of the dwelling units had finished floors of cement, parquet, vinyl, tiles or carpet with about 19 percent of the dwelling units having natural floors of (earth and dung).
Mr Mahonde said the majority 64 percent of the households used between one and three rooms, most of which had up to four members while there were 140 040 households, constituting 16,1 percent, with at least six members using two rooms.
In terms of access to the main communication technology gadgets, Mr Mahonde said mobile phones, radio and television sets were predominant.
“About 87 percent of the households owned cellular telephones.
“Radio and television sets were evenly distributed.”
The census found 36,2 of households owned a radio and 32,6 percent a television. Mr Mahonde said 34,3 percent of the households had access to the internet at home.
“Of the households that indicated use of grid electricity, 84 percent were in urban areas. Of the households that indicated use of off grid electricity, 78.7 percent were in rural areas.
Mr Mahonde said about 30 percent of the households accessed piped water on their dwelling, yard or plot for drinking while over 24 percent of the households accessed drinking water from protected wells or springs, and 4,5 percent of the households accessed drinking water from a public tap.
On waste management, he said burning and formal waste disposal were the major waste disposal methods by households as they jointly constituted 63,7 percent.
“On one hand, 33,5 percent of the households practised burning, while on the other hand, 30,2 percent used formal methods such as collection by municipalities and other local authorities.
“A significant 26,4 percent of the households used informal methods that included burying and dumping among others,” he said.
Mr Mahonde said 68,7 percent reported having a handwashing facility with water and soap/detergent present.
“Most of the households (38,2 percent) used the flush toilet system. On one hand, a significant 19,8 percent of the households did not use any toilet facility, while on the other hand, 15,6 percent used the ventilated improved pit latrines.
“Matabeleland North and Masvingo Provinces had the largest proportion of households who practiced open defecation. In the two provinces, such households constituted 50 percent and 35 percent respectively,” he said.