Zimbabwe's water reforms that were undertaken in the 1990s were meant to redress the colonially inherited inequalities to agricultural water, increase water security against frequent droughts, improve water management, and realise sustainable financing of the water sector. They were underpinned by the 1998 Water and Zimbabwe National Water Authority Acts, which were based on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) principles. This article describes how IWRM has been implemented against a backdrop of an ever - ev olving land reform programme and a struggling agriculture sector. We examine how water is accessed and used in and around three water sources in the Middle Manyame Sub-Catchment, one of the seven sub-catchments of the Manyame Catchment. The Sub-Catchment is of particular significance because there was significant agricultural production on white-owned large-scale farmers, which have now been extensively allocated to small black farmers. The study demonstrated that while the land reform has, in theory, broad ened access to water, irrigation water usage has remained low because of a depressed agriculture sector, shortage and high costs of electricity, and lack of capital needed to restore damaged or stolen irrigation equipment. The findings indicate that the as sumption of a self-financing water sector, based on a well-functioning agriculture sector, which is the largest water user, has not been realised, and this has negatively affected implementation of IWRM in the Middle Manyame area and in Zimbabwe in general.
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