WHEN residents in cities such as Bulawayo, Harare, Mutare and Gweru complain over dry taps, the responsible local authorities have been blaming the unavailability of water on dwindling supplies.
Their dams have been drying up following successive droughts hitting the country and an increase in population.
While that explanation of dwindling of water sources applies to the above cities, the situation is different for Mberengwa residents at Mataga Growth Point.
Mataga Growth Point is home to about 30 000 residents, has a hospital which is vital for villagers from as far as Chief Ngungumbane Village which is about 60km away.
Located there is Mberengwa Rural District Council offices, a police station and the population is increasing — the more the reason for it to have running water.
Unfortunately, Mataga is sitting on a ticking health time bomb after going for years without running water.
Communities affected include Mataga, Nyamhondo, Musume, Makuwerere, Chingoma A and B of the Mberengwa South Constituency.
Also being affected by the development is Musume Mission Hospital.
However, Government intervened with the construction of the 39 000-megalitre Mundi-Mataga Dam. An oasis in the arid region, the Mundi-Mataga Dam, was commissioned in 2004 leading to the establishment of the Biri Irrigation Scheme.
While the irrigation scheme, which is a year-round of agricultural activities, provides for the much-needed food for residents and villagers and downstream, villagers established gardens while livestock had an all-year supply of clean water.
The water was and is supposed to wet the appetite of the thirsty community at Mataga Business Centre and Musume Mission but unfortunately that is not the case.
The dam is only less than 15km away from the Growth Point but taps are dry.
Access to the water has degenerated into a long-drawn-out conflict pitting Mberengwa Rural District Council and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
The residents need the water and are willing to pay for it but Zinwa is allegedly failing to pump the precious liquid from the dam to the water treatment plant.
And this has been the case since 2004.
With the dam came a small treatment plant, which had a capacity of 100m³/hour and was supposed to be complemented by a 2280m³ reservoir which is under construction. The construction of the big reservoir was supposed to include the upgrading of the treatment plant from the small plant so that the over 30 000 residents have access to water.
But the construction has been on hold for over 10 years. The construction site has even been abandoned.