The water situation in Harare, Zimbabwe: a policy and management problem

Innocent Nhapi

Abstract

Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, is facing water quantity and quality problems, with serious pollution of the downstream Lake Chivero. Often, these problems are attributed to rapid population growth, inadequate maintenance of wastewater treatment plants, expensive technologies and a poor institutional framework. Rampant urban agriculture could also result in washing off and leaching of nutrients. This paper brings out a number of issues related to sustainable water management in Harare. The study was based on key informant interviews, focus group discussions and a literature review.

The results show that monitoring and enforcement of regulations in Harare is poor because of economic hardships and lack of political will to deal with offenders. Also, there is irregular collection of garbage, low fines owing to hyper-inflation and a general failure by the city to collect water and other charges from residents. The city has also failed to raise tariffs to economic levels owing to heavy lobbying by residents and interference by government. It was concluded that Harare cannot overcome its water-related problems under the current set-up. It is recommended that a corporatised body, free from political influence and with a higher degree of autonomy, be established to run the water services for Harare and the neighbouring towns. Such a body would need a sound and flexible system for setting tariffs and enacting/enforcing reasonable regulations.

  • Harare
  • Institutional aspects
  • Intervention strategies
  • Urban water management
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Water losses
  • Water quality
  • Received November 28, 2005.
  • Accepted April 13, 2007.