Promoting a water secure Zimbabwe

Like many countries in the World, Zimbabwe’s potential to achieve long term food security and consolidate socio-economic development stems largely from its ability not just to craft but implement sound water resources management policies.
Perhaps, it is true that there are, in all probability, no issues more important to economic development and human sustenance than water and sanitation.
The fact that water plays a critical role in human development is self-evident and this is also amply reflected in the national constitution where access to sufficient water is explicitly pronounced as one ofthe basic human rights.
Interestingly, it is encouraging to note that Zimbabwe has recorded one of the highest rates of growth in water supply and sanitation services since independence although most of these achievements are now under serious threat from such factors as rapid urbanisation, high climate variability and the ever growing demands of a highly modernised society.
This phenomenon has given credence to the call for more efforts to be channeled towards the crafting, adoption and implementation of policies that principally focuses on long term sustainable water security.
Based on these circumstances, the actions of virtually all stakeholders across all sectors of the economy should therefore be dictated by the desire to promote a “water secure Zimbabwe” through steadfast, multi-stakeholder and holistic implementation of principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
Inescapably, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) is an integral player in the water sector and has, over the years, played a fundamental role towards securing water security in the country through the statutory functions of planning, developing and optimally managing water resources.
Despite facing a number of challenges, among them lack of adequate private sector participation in water resources development and aging water and sanitation infrastructure across much of the country, ZINWA has remained committed to its constitutional mandate of developing and managing the country’s water resources pursuant to ensuring equitable and sustainable access to water.
Nevertheless, while ZINWA has shown that it has the institutional capacity to effectively develop and manage the country’s water resources, the accomplishment of the goal to promote and guarantee long term water security in Zimbabwe is, without doubt, dependent not just on the commitment but also broad and active participation of all stakeholders in water resources development activities.
This also depends on the willingness of all sectors to pay for water services so that the Authority can be financially capacitated to cover the costs of providing water services such as infrastructure development and rehabilitation, upkeep of water purification, distribution and extraction facilities among others.
In the past few years, the symptoms of lack of water security in Zimbabwe have been felt in most parts of the country and worryingly, the number of people who live in water-scarce areas has also steadily taken an upward trend.
For an agro-based economy like Zimbabwe with a long history of limited water resources, the importance of promoting water security cannot be overemphasized. It is most likely that without water security,the agricultural sector will collapse and this will automatically have far reaching effects across virtually all sectors of the economy.
It is also important to understand that ZINWA’s contribution to the promotion of water security in Zimbabwe is not confined to planning, developing and managing the country’s water resources. It also involves monitoring of groundwater levels and river flow measurements across the country.
The data gathered is essential for flood monitoring which is a very important function particularly in this era of climate change where extreme weather patterns have become a common phenomenon.
This data is also used in water resource planning in relation to shared water courses where equitable access to water resources needs to be maintained.