The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Zimbabwe experienced significant decline, such that by 2008,

  • Access to safe sanitation in rural areas was estimated at 25% down from 56%,
  • Over 60% of rural water points were broken down. In all urban areas, access to safe water supply was highly unreliable, with some suburbs in Harare such as Mabvuku, Tafara and Masasa Park going for more than a year without receiving water.

Production capacity at most water treatment plants was significantly curtailed due to shortage of water treatment chemicals and power outages. On 1st of December, 2008 for example, Harare’s clear water production was only 84Ml/day or 14% of design capacity. Waste water treatment plants failed to produce the desired quality effluent due to equipment breakdown, overloading and lack of manpower. 

The negative result was a cholera outbreak in August, 2008. While cholera outbreaks have taken place on an annual basis in Zimbabwe since 1998, the previous outbreaks have never reached the scale of the August 2008 epidemic, which by May 2009 had reached 97 795 cases with 4 265 deaths giving a case fatality rate of 4.4%.

Effective response to the emergency was hampered by a weakened, uncoordinated WASH sector, lacking clear leadership. The Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management, with the support from UNICEF and the World Bank initiated a process of restructuring the WASH sector. Following a Ministers’ Retreat in Nyanga, a new coordination mechanism was agreed to, in the form of the re-branded National Action Committee. In January 2011, a retreat was organised for the chairpersons of the NAC sub-committees in Kadoma at which an NAC workplan was developed. The workplan prioritises the formulation of a comprehensive WASH sector policy, the conducting of Joint Sector Review, the activation of sub-committee and main NAC meetings, the development of sector strategies and investment plans.

After the signing of the Global Political Agreement, the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe recognised that:

  • Considerable development aid was required to achieve targets set out in the short term recovery programme, STERP and that,
  • Such aid flows needed to be effectively coordinated and managed in order to align with national priorities, prepared in May 2009 and outlined in a Donor Aid Policy Document.  The document outlined key principles for donor aid management and use.

To guide the institutional frameworks in the various development sectors an Aid Coordination Structure was developed as indicated below:

The structure emphasises coordination of efforts in which ministries in a sector work together under a lead ministry, while donors supporting that sector, form a Donor Sector Working Group (DSWG), and these (government and donors) then come together under a Sector Working Group (SWG). In the WASH sector, ministries are now coordinated under the re-branded NAC, while a DSWG has been formed, jointly chaired by UNICEF and the World Bank. What is missing is the WASH Sector Working Group (WSWG).

Mean while Cabinet has since directed the Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management, as the lead ministry, to ensure the speed conclusion of formulation process of the WASH policy. This, however, entails the preparation of background papers for some of the policy chapters, the coordination and consultation of various stakeholders and the actual write up and finalisation of the policy document. While recognising the important role of the NAC and other established coordination mechanisms, the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management intends to establish a WASH Sector Working Group (WSWG), to provide technical and strategic visioning and backstopping to the NAC in this process as well as coordination of implementation of sector programmes.


Objectives of the WSWG:

Overall objective:

The overall objective of the WASH Sector Working Group is to provide a forum for consultation, and make recommendations to support Government’s efforts to attain its long term goals of financial viability and environmental sustainability of the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. Broadly the WSWG shall be a strategic sector think-tank backstopping the NAC in the preparation of sector policy and processes leading to sustained sector recovery. It brings together government and donors at technical and managerial levels.


Specific objectives:

(i)    Conduct regular meetings, to discuss sector work plans, strategies and priorities and any other sector issues as may be determined from time to time.

(ii)   Review progress towards a coordinated road map for the sector policy development, resource and monitor the implementation of the roadmap.

(iii)Advise the NAC/NCU, the Minister of Water Resources Development and Management and hence Cabinet on topical issues and priorities related to the WASH sector.

(iv)Provide a forum for sector financial resource mobilisation and coordination.

Scope of Work:

(i)    The WSWG shall restrict itself to:  water resources management (considering all spatial water distributions, types, uses, local and transboundary obligations), water supply (rural, peri-urban, urban), all multiple uses of water (agriculture, commerce, industry, energy, mining and environment), sanitation (including on-site and off-site, dry and wet systems and the management of both liquid and solid wastes), hygiene (including knowledge, behaviour and practices) and to sustainability, legal, institutional, managerial, financial, monitoring and evaluation issues pertaining to these.  

(ii)   The WSWG shall draw on all relevant experiences to advice government and the sector on key intervention priorities.   


Members of the WSWG shall be:


A: Government of Zimbabwe

(i)    Permanent Secretary, (MWRDM)

(ii)   Director of Water Resources Management, (MWRDM)

(iii)  Director of Water Resources Planning,  (MWRDM)

(iv)Chairperson of the Urban Sub-committee of NAC and Director of Urban Local Authorities, (MLGRUD)

(v)  Chairperson of the Rural Sub-committee and Director of DID, (MTCID)

(vi)Director of Environmental Health, Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MHCW)

(vii)Ministry of Finance (MoF).


B: Sector Support Agencies:

(i)    Africa Development Bank

(ii)   Australia Development Agency (formerly AusAID)

(iii)  DFID-UK


(v)  GIZ (formerly GTZ)


(vii)World Bank

C: Key Partners:

(i)    Co-Chairperson of the WASH Cluster, UNICEF;

(ii)   Co-Chairperson of the WASH Cluster, Oxfam;

(iii)Chairperson of the Town Engineers’ Forum.

D: Secretariat:

I.      The National Coordinator, NCU,

II.     The WB-WSP/UNICEF Policy and Sector Recovery Consultant to NAC/NCU, MWRDM

E: Chair:
The WSWG shall be chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management or a senior appointee as and when necessary.

F: Frequency of Meetings:
At least once a quarter



Twitter Feed