Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

Revealing Social Dimensions of Open Space Cultivation by Older Women in Harare
Advancing a Social Planning Discourse for Urban Agriculture

Stephanie Gabel

B.E.S., The University Of Waterloo, 1999

A Thesis Submitted In Partial Fulfilment Of The Requirements For
The Degree Of Master Of Arts (Planning)
In The Faculty Of Graduate Studies
(School Of Community And Regional Planning)

The University Of British Columbia
November 2004
Stephanie Gabel, 2004

On this web page we have placed the Abstract and Table of Contents. The complete thesis can be downloaded here. (PDF 1.5 MB) Revealing Social Dimensions of Open Space Cultivation by Older Women in Harare


This research on urban agriculture in Harare, Zimbabwe highlights women's ideas, needs, concerns and agency, contextualising these findings through an investigation of the institutional and policy environment governing the practice of open space cultivation in the city. A feminist methodology provides an overall framework, while also incorporating ethnomethodology and participatory research methodologies to highlight the broader social, political and cultural contexts of urban agriculture. A multi-method approach was adopted that included the use of semi-structured interviewing, focus groups, strategic meetings, participatory methods, visioning interviews and action methods (such as field trips, creating a stakeholder forum, and organising income generating projects). Findings from this research have been used to develop a gender-aware history of women and urban agriculture (UA) in Harare. Key findings show that the forms of organisation for open space cultivation (SOSC) developed by older women have been historically unacknowledged, ignored, and impeded by those with decision making power, most often male elites. Nine legal channels available for SOSC in Harare are uncovered in the research, dispelling the myth that UA is an illegal activity in the City. This research further elaborates on the impacts of legal ambiguity that have resulted in conflicts between various land tenure systems and categories, demonstrating the serious governance challenges at the heart of developing supportive policy development for UA in the City. The voices of women are used to illuminate the dire need for local and neighbourhood level leadership, and the importance of addressing the cultural context in which UA is imbedded. A discussion of planning and governance in Harare reveals the exclusionary practices that operate to make the work of women, their UA and land based livelihoods invisible in planning practice and city decision making. The research shows the potential for shifting planning practice and discourse toward more people centred, democratic forms of planning for UA.

Table Of Contents


Table of Contents

List of Tables, Maps and Figures

List of Abbreviations

Note From the Author


1.1 Introduction
1.2 Definitions
1.3 Research Focus
1.4 Research Context & Participants

CHAPTER II A Methodology for Uncovering Social Contexts in UA Systems
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Overview of Methodologies & Methods in UA Research
2.3 Towards an Alternative Epistemology in UA Research
2.4 Feminist Ethnography & Participatory Action Research
2.5 Methods
2.6 Closing

CHAPTER III Making Women Visible: A History of Women & Open Space
Cultivation in Harare
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Colonialism, Post-Colonialism & Gender Relations
3.3 Highfield, a High-Density Suburb Amidst Open Spaces
3.4 Women & the History of Open Space Cultivation
3.5 Growing Up a Women in Colonial Zimbabwe
3.6 Historical Roots of Land Alienation of Urban Women
3.7 Closing

CHAPTER IV At the Neighbourhood Scale, There is Strength in Enterprising Women
4.1 Introduction
4.2 The Contributions & Strengths of Enterprising Women
4.3 Patterns of Urban Land Access & Acquisition
4.4 Women Organising- Organising Women
4.5 Closing

CHAPTER V Women's Harvests, Technical Constraints And Requirements in Urban
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Production Inputs & Outputs
5.3 Hired & Family Labour
5.4 Benefits & Constraints to Cultivation
5.5 Identifying Needs for SOSC

CHAPTER VI Policy & Local Governance: Women, Cultivation & Confrontation
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Women, Status & Governance
6.3 UA & SOSC Policy
6.4 The Unveiling of a Myth: The Legality of UA
6.5 Impacts of Legal Ambiguity on What Happens on the Ground
6.6 SOSC as Protest to Poor Governance in Harare
6.7 Closing

CHAPTER VII Women, Planning & Power: Grounds for Insurgency
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Planning in the UA Literature
7.3 Colonial & Post Colonial Planning in Harare
7.4 Gendered Rules of Exclusion
7.5 Approaches to Planning for UA in Harare
7.6 Closing: On Planning & Power

CHAPTER VIII Insights from Research on UA in Harare
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Emerging Themes
8.3 Possible Applications of the Research Findings
8.4 Re-Imagining the City of Harare

Appendix One: Profiles of Partners and Research Assistants
Appendix Two: Weaknesses of the Research
Appendix Three: Poem "Fio" Memories of Highfield
Appendix Four: Data Collection Sheets for Documenting UA
Appendix Five: Summary of Farming Inputs
Appendix Six: Workshop Presentation Summary of Women's UA Needs
Appendix Seven: Overview of Policies Related to UA
Appendix Eight: Western Planning Theory. Overview
Appendix Nine: Summary of UA Interest & Activities in 2000-2001
Appendix Ten: Resource List and Contacts for UA in Zimbabwe
Appendix Eleven: John Forester's Table of Power and Communication
Appendix Twelve: A Collaborative Action Based Intervention for Harare

List Of Tables, Maps And Figures

List of Tables
2.1 Summary of Primary Data Sources
3.1 Documentation of UA Prior to 1980
3.2 Visibility of Women's Agriculture Over Time
3.3 Personal Information & Urban Residency of Women
4.1 Summary of Entrepreneurial Income Generating Work
4.2 Summary of Land Occupancy Patterns
5.1 Estimates from Seven Farmers Growing Seasons for 2000-2001
5.2 Information of Production Costs & Women's Farming Practices
5.3 Additional Labour Contributions for 2000-2001 Harvest
5.4 Identified Needs of Older Women Cultivators
6.1 Protocols to Facilitate Legal SOSC in Mutare
6.2 Summary of Options to Legal Access to UA

List of Maps
Map of Zimbabwe
Map of Harare

List of Figures
1.1 Cartoon
4.1 Tacheometric Survey of Urban Fields
6.1 No Opportunities for Participation
6.2 Reasons Why Women Are Not Consulted
6.3 Uncovering Ways to Promote Support
6.4 Women's Ideas on Being Consulted and Involved
7.1 Sample From Interview with a City Planner

Search Our Site[new]

pointer Return to Contents' Page pointer

August 3, 2006

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture