In rural areas, Africans live in villages and on farms in housing that is mainly of brick or mud and stick construction with thatch or metal roofs. The villages are usually small (except for the massive protected villages), with fewer than 100 inhabitants. Urban housing is generally of brick. According to the latest available information for 1980–88, total housing units numbered two million, with 4.2 people per dwelling.
The Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Cooperatives (ZINAHCO) is an umbrella organization of over 1,000 national housing cooperatives. The organization was established as a means of providing advice to member groups on dealing with local and national authorities and to offer training in building techniques. In 2003, ZINAHCO was working to change urban building standards which dictate that hook-ups to public services must be in place before an owner may begin to build a home. The Cooperatives argue that for many of the urban poor living in slum shacks, it is more appropriate to first allow for the construction of permanent structures with communal utility services. Residents can then install utilities at a later date, as they can afford to do so.