This is most pronounced in Mabvuku’s Hanyani, Matongo and Churuwa areas, which have gone for several months without a regular supply of running water.
However, in other areas such as Belvedere there are people who have taken the lead in helping others cope with the water crisis.
These good Samaritans have installed taps outside their security walls where anyone can fetch water at no cost.
Some have signs written “borehole water, help yourself”.
A number of people from Warren Park, Westlea, Kambuzuma and Kuwadzana suburbs fetch water for free from boreholes in Belvedere, mostly for drinking purposes.
Such is the benevolence of some borehole owners that they even provide hosepipes which people use to fill their containers with ease.
“I have been living in this neighbourhood for six months now and I found the people I live with fetching water from boreholes outside fellow residents’ yards because the tap rarely has water,” a Belvedere man who had just fetched water from one of the boreholes said.
But it is not everyone who allows the public to fetch water from their boreholes.
Some have their taps secured and are only opened when they water their lawns and flowers.
Residents said most of the people who allow the public to fetch water were Moslems of Indian origin.
“As Moslems, we believe that water is a gift from God and as such we freely share it with others,” a man who preferred anonymity said. “We cannot ask anyone to pay for something we get from the ground for free.”
However, the Harare City Council has ordered all those with boreholes to register with the local authority so that they can be charged for the commodity.
Efforts to get a comment from Harare City Council spokesperson Leslie Gwindi were fruitless last week.
Meanwhile the situation is getting worse in Mabvuku.
“We rarely have water in this part of Mabvuku and also in Hwenga, Save and Kariana,” said one resident, Arnold Banda. “There is one borehole in our area and even if you wake up at 2am, you will find a long winding queue such that you may spend half of the day waiting for your turn to fetch water. Some of us end up buying water from those with wells and boreholes.”
A 20-litre container of water costs a dollar but most households said they needed at least 60 litres every day.
Lack of potable water lowers living standards: residents
Although the residents rarely get running water, they still receive huge water bills every month, some reflecting four digits.
“We have a bill showing more than US$1 000 and I wonder where that is coming from because we rarely use council water,” Banda said.
Some residents said the council’s failure to supply them with water has lowered living standards of most urban dwellers who now live like villagers.
“Look around you and see the many people, especially teenagers and senior citizens walking around with dirty clothes on,” Mutsa Mangwiro said. “It is no longer surprising to see someone with clothes as dirty as those of small boys in rural areas because of lack of access to clean water.”