Housing in Transition. A Zambian Case Study

within the programme: Gender Research on Urbanisation, Planning, Housing and Everyday Life, GRUPHEL III

Researcher: Ann Schlyter
The project was established in 1994 and completed in 2002

Gender relations are changing rapidly in the process of urbanisation. A number of researchers in Southern Africa are engaged in the GRUPHEL programme which in its third phase is co-ordinated by the Institute for Southern African Studies at the National University of Lesotho. Ann Schlyter at the Nordic Africa Institute, works in the programme as scientific adviser and participant researcher.

The Programme
The GRUPHEL programme problematises the structural relationship of inequality between men and women. Continuously and reflectively it attends to gender asymmetry as a basic feature of social organisation. Research on urbanisation and housing has often been dictated by planners' needs for quantitative information and biased by male assumptions and gender-blindness.

Within the GRUPHEL programme a wide range of empirical studies constitutes a qualitative basis for an ongoing theoretical and conceptual discussion. In its third phase the focus is put on efforts of formulating and implementing sustainable housing policies and programmes. There are case studies conducted in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Case Study: Housing in Transition
Ann Schlyter's case study within the programme will look at housing reforms in Zambia, especially at the effects of privatisation of council housing in Lusaka. From colonial times, when European staff were subsidised with tied housing and Africans were denied ownership, council housing dominated the formal housing stock. Severely run down by lack of maintenance a privatisation policy was adopted. Home ownership is generally regarded as a tenure form that will result in sustainable housing. It has been argued that a private housing market would create a sound environment which would increase investments in housing.

This study will look into the results in terms of gender, class, and physical improvements. It will include analysis of how the process was managed by local authorities, and of participation by inhabitants and impacts from various interest groups. The process has not been gender neutral as ownership usually was transferred to the male head of the sitting tenant household.

In order to elaborate on the interaction between class and gender, housing areas of various income groups will be studied. Tendencies of gentrification and masculinisation of ownership, as well as physical changes of houses will be identified. The methods will include interviews with key persons and inhabitants, and observations about changes in physical structures.


Sithole-Fundire, Zhou, Larsson & Schlyter (eds.) (1995) 'Gender Research on Urbanization, Planning, Housing and Everyday Life'. Harare, Zimbabwe Women's Resource Centre and Network. Distributed in Europe by Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.

Schlyter, Ann (ed.) (1996) 'A Place to Live. Gender Research on Housing in Africa'. Uppsala, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.

Larsson, Mapetla & Schlyter (eds.) (1998) 'Changing Gender Relations in Southern Africa. Issues of Urban Life'. ISAS, University of Lesotho. Distributed by ABC, 27 Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HU, UK.

Schlyter, Ann (1997) 'Local organisation, democracy, and urban youth - a case study in Zambia'.  Journal für Entwicklungspolitik/Austrian Journal of Development Studies, XIII. Jg. Heft 3, pp. 281-298.

Schlyter, Ann (1998) 'Urban community organisation and the transition to a multi-party democracy in Zambia', pp. 258-81, in Rudebeck, Törnquist & Rojas (eds.) Democratisation in the Third World. Concrete Cases in Comparative and Theoretical Perspective. Macmillian Press.

LTd. Schlyter, Ann (1998) 'Women are Plenty - Men are Scarce. Views on Gender and Sexuality among Youth in George compound, Lusaka'.Stockholm, RFSU, the Swedish Association for Sex Education.

Schlyter, Ann (1998) "Urban management and democracy", pp. 193-202, in Wohlgemuth, Carlsson & Kifle, 'Institution Building and Leadership in Africa', Uppsala, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.

Schlyter, Ann (1998) 'Housing policy in Zambia: retrospect and prospect', Habitat International,Vol. 22, No. 3 pp. 259-271, Pergamon.

Schlyter, Ann (1999) 'Recycled inequalities. Youth and Gender in George compound, Zambia'.
Uppsala, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.

Ann Schlyter, Ass. Prof. Trained as an architect she has worked with multi-disciplinary urban research in Southern Africa for many years. Focus has been on squatter areas, upgrading, local urban management and democracy, women's housing strategies, and gender in urban development.

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