Community-Based Disease (Covid-19) Surveillance Project: A Marketplace Safety Audit For Chitungwiza Municipality

Introduction

This report emerges from a Community Water Alliance (CWA) commissioned rapid assessment of the COVID-19 compliance of urban markets in the Chitungwiza Municipal area. The Development Governance Institute (DEGI) carried out the assessment. In determining the COVID-19 preparedness of and mitigation measures at marketplaces in Chitungwiza the assessment focused on the design and use of facilities. This was done in relation to available guidance or protocols, which were used as a reference point for the assessments. Literature on experiences regarding responses in Zimbabwe and other jurisdictions was also drawn on. The audit focused on main markets in Chitungwiza, which include Chikwanha, Jambanja markets among others.

About the commissioning agency

CWA is a grassroots-based civil society organization registered as a Trust in 2013. that does advocacy work on water, sanitation, environment and climate change issues. The organization implements civic education, monitoring and observation, information dissemination, capacity enhancement, research and advocacy programs. The study was funded under it’s Community-Based Disease (COVID-19) Surveillance Mechanisms. Through this program CWA and Oxfam aim to build advocacy and influencing work on COVID-19 community awareness. Expected results include changed duty bearer behaviour and enhanced community capacity to prevent the spread of the disease. 

About Chitungwiza, the Municipal Area & Units of Inquiry

Chitungwiza is a densely populated dormitory town of Harare. It was founded in 1978 and the urban centre was granted Municipal status in 1996. On establishment, Chitungwiza had three main residential townships of Seke (with 15 Units or Sections A to P), Zengeza and St Mary’s. Later other areas like Manyame Park were added in the 2000s. Infill residential, commercial and industrial development over time has increased the density of the town. In terms of size the town is the third largest urban area in Zimbabwe after Harare and Bulawayo. 

A 25-member Council Chamber governs the Municipality’s nearly half a million residents (UCAZ 2020). The Councilors are directly elected by residents of the Municipal Area, which is mainly on state land and about 42 to 45 km2 in size (ibid). A Town Clerk leads Chitungwiza’s executive arm of more than 1100 employees. In recent times the senior executive position (of Town Clerk) has not been stable. The executive instability is indicative of the governance strain that Chitungwiza has faced over time. Within and around the Municipal area a lot of land and housing informality has occurred. At the same time, the service delivery and overall economic viability of the dormitory town has been a major challenge. While this is true of other urban areas in the country, Chitungwiza’s population density has imposed a heavier strain on the socio-economic and physical infrastructure in a governance-constrained environment (see for instance Zvobgo 2020). 

The Municipality recently embarked on urban renewal initiatives. Council is in the process of renewing and renovating some parts of the town. The local authority is seeking private partnerships to renew some areas like six of its main markets. These include Chikwanha, Zengeza 2, Huruyadzo, Chigovanyika, Jambanja and Mutsau. Some of these were considered for the current study.

Economic informalisation and the importance of Urban Markets

Zimbabwe`s economy is now largely informal. The country has the second largest informal economy in the world after Bolivia (see also The Herald). Due to severe economic challenges facing the country most major formal businesses closed and some relocated. The trend is continuing and has resulted in many people losing their jobs with most starting and running their own businesses which are not part of the formal economy as the majority don’t pay taxes. As such, they do not always contribute to public services through taxes. 

Most people work in the informal sector as business owners or as employees. The sector has faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures meant to contain the spread of the disease adversely affected those working in or relying on the sector for goods and services. Further, the downward spiral of the economy also affected infrastructure resulting in a poor state of most marketplaces in terms of water, sanitation, market stalls and related facilities. 

The COVID-19 compliance at urban markets in terms of prevention measures is a significant challenge. Markets are places where a lot of people from different areas mingle making them potential COVID-19 hotspots. The study, which was a baseline established the realities at these markets in terms of their preparedness and compliance with COVID-19 regulations. The protection of market users from being infected was considered to be inadequate. 

Read the full report here (3MB DOCX)

Source: Community Water Alliance