Perceptions of secure life space : socio-spatial change of informal households in urban Zimbabwe
The majority of urban poor households strive for a secure, sufficient and decent livelihood that they have reason to value. The utmost priority for an urban poor family is to ensure physical and social well-being in a push towards poverty reduction. Taking the basic social unit of the 'household' as the strategic point of departure, this research reviews two key complex, yet interrelated variables of the land-housing debate: Firstly, the perceptions and implications of household security, centring on the meaning of security of the territorial base of the family; and Secondly, the momentum it gives to spatial occupation, household consolidation processes, use of space and development of the home and the home-based enterprise. The objective of this thesis is to readdress the term 'security' in the context of contemporary Southern Africa. The focus moves away from broader macro-level investigation of land reform, but addresses the spatial, urban household security at micro-level. By investigating the spatial consolidation processes of the home and the home-based enterprise, offers a valuable insight as to how people claim their right to land and initially occupy space, the concept of 'start-up' or household formation. This reveals the inherent traditional knowledge and skills people use to produce democratic spaces within the home and neighbourhood regarding varying, complex levels of perceived ownership. Accordingly, this can further enhance our understanding of the meaning of household security, which could lead to more sensitive and supportive housing policy responses regarding urban land reform. This thesis argues for the people as the predominant agents of change, rather than the normal passive recipients of deprived societies. The fundamental aspect to begin with, was to comprehend 'reality' from the households' perspective. It is based on hearing the story from the urban poor themselves. Data has been gathered from in-depth interviews with 137 households within two highly contested settlements on the periphery of Harare. The research then follows 8 family's life stories (from 16 studies), in socio-spatial detail.