The Zimbabwe National Water Authority says it is concerned that as Zimbabweans join the rest of the world this week in marking water day, the country is lagging behind with only 25 percent of the water in the country’s dams being used to improve people's lives.
ZINWA board chairman, Never Mhlanga, told parliament’s public accounts portfolio committee that most of the country’s dams are full but are not being utilized.
"We have built dams which are full of water," he said. "It's a sorry sight when we travel to these dams and you find them full of water and there are no users, no takers."
Mhlanga said most farmers are not paying their water bills, collectively owing the water authority $88 million. He adds last year alone, ZINWA was only able to collect $27 million from the $42 million it should have made through water charges countrywide.
For years now many people in Zimbabwe have remained without a constant supply of clean tap water, creating serious health risks for residents as they resort to unclean sources of water for survival.
From big cities such as Harare and Bulawayo to small towns such as Bindura and Kadoma - getting clean water for household consumption is a daily struggle.
Residents who spoke to Studio 7 about the poor water supply in the suburbs say in the absence of clean water supplies, the council and the government are wasting their time in trying to fight waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid.
One resident Thomas Mwedziwendira from Kuwadzana extension says with clean water supplies readily available, council wouldn’t have to worry about illegal vendors helping spread diseases.
"Water supply is very erratic so even if you buy something you might find that there is no water to wash it, it is the Harare city council which is to blame," said Mwedziwendira.
Another resident, Moses Chiremba, agreed, adding local authorities and the government should unite to solve the water crisis in the whole country.
Meanwhile, speaking at the Voice of America's headquarters in Washington to mark world water day, Dr. Aaron Salzberg, the special coordinator for water resources at the U.S. State Department, stressed the importance of water in the growth and development of countries.
Citing Zimbabwe in particular, Salzberg said key areas like education, poverty reduction, democracy building and health have been affected by lack of access to clean water by many in the country.
He said Zimbabwe, like many other countries, has failed to properly empower its ministries so they can adequately provide clean water and in the process prevent outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
"I think we have a water minister [in Zimbabwe] who is committed to addressing some of these issues, committed to working with neighbors, but like many countries the water minister is very marginalized in the political process and they must be empowered," said Salzberg.