3 Zimbabwe Services and Supply

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Water Supply and Sanitation

Zimbabwe has limited water resources and generally depends on surface storage for its water needs. All of Zimbabwe’s major rivers are shared with other members of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Zimbabwe cooperates actively with other members of SADC on the shared management of the region’s river systems, and it is a signatory to the Shared Water Course Systems Protocol, which provides the basis for management of the international rivers in the SADC countries. It is also an active member of the Limpopo and Zambezi basin communities which oversee joint management of these international rivers. The largest user of water in Zimbabwe is the agricultural sector which accounts for about three-quarters of total consumption, followed by the domestic sector which accounts for about 15 percent, and industry uses the remaining 7 percent. It is a major national resource and, up until the economic crisis of the previous decade, it was a crucial factor in Zimbabwe’s agricultural and industrial competitive advantage in the region. Access to improved water and sanitation has a direct positive impact on health in Zimbabwe, particularly among children. It also tends to raise school attendance rates, particularly for girls, and the ability of children to learn. Improvements in such areas in turn may have a high payoff in the long term in terms of productivity. In the past decade, the water supply and sanitation systems in many urban and rural areas in Zimbabwe have deteriorated and water dependent businesses have been adversely affected by shortages. Sewage systems have experienced large-scale blockages, water treatment plants are dysfunctional and lack chemicals and many distribution systems have fallen into disrepair. The failure of the electric power system to provide a regular and reliable supply of electricity has compounded the problem of operating the water supply and sewerage systems of urban areas and has contributed to collapse of the system.

Service Levels in Zimbabwe
In the early 1990s, the coverage and quality of the basic infrastructure of Zimbabwe was among the best in the region. In the past decade, the quality of these infrastructure assets has deteriorated. As things now stand, the amount and quality of the country’s infrastructure is roughly in line with that of other Southern African countries, but as with many other Sub-Saharan countries, Zimbabwe now lags behind most other regional groupings in the world in infrastructure service coverage and quality. Zimbabwe does have one of the largest road and rail networks in the Southern Africa region. Although airport density is low and the related infrastructure is dilapidated, railways, roads, and access to ports are somewhat better relative to conditions in other countries in the region. Access to power, water, and sanitation services is roughly comparable with other countries in the region. In the case of communications, mobile phone densities were among the lowest in the region in 2006, but access has improved sharply in the past few years. Use of the internet per 100 people, on the other hand, was the highest in the region in 2006, perhaps in reaction to inadequate access to mobile voice services. Warehouses and handling services for hire, purchase and/or lease are readily available to commercial users and well as humanitarian organisations. In addition the government through relevant ministries, the UN community, NGOs and multinational organisations have databases for various service providers that can be shared upon request. However the tobacco buying season brings in competition for space between March and August when farmers and buyers are transacting.

For more information, please see the following link: Status of Infrastructure Services in the Economy


The following sections contain information on the service and supply industries of Zimbabwe.

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