Traditionally the supply of adequate and dependable water has been pivotal to the sustenance of contemporary towns (Musemwa, 2010).Earlier than 1980 urban water and sanitation provision in Zimbabwe was built upon high standards.As Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980 ,they inherited the colonial standards for water and sanitation.
Gukume(2012) adds on that these inherited colonial standards are so high and demanding that it is almost impossible for authorities to overlook existence of informal settlements in urban areas let alone providing basic services such as water and sanitation.On the urban front particularly in Harare, the state of water supplies was relatively good until the 1990s.Since then Harare and surrounding areas began to experience water shortages (Musemwa, 2010). This was because many people were moving from rural areas to urban areas creating informal settlements which further led to the demand for water and sanitation services in these areas. In terms of water and sanitation supply informal settlements were rarely connected to the mains or supported by local authorities. In the same period the government of Zimbabwe introduced structural adjustment programs which further increased informality and exerted pressure on already stressed infrastructure for water and sanitation in urban areas.The introduction of the land reform program in the early 2000s saw the conversion of peri-urban farms into residential areas. These residential areas did not comply with the standards stipulated in the city of Harare bylaws (Mukonowehsuro, 2014).
The beneficiaries of the land reform program have over the years continued to subdivide their land for residential areas illegally worsening the water and sanitation crisis.Moving on to 2005 the government of Zimbabwe worsened the water and sanitation crisis in urban areas.This was because it embarked on operation restore order to the city. This was an operation to restore the city to its original form and reduce urban informality. But however the operation Murambatsvina increased the number of informal settlements around the city which did not have access to water and sanitation.
Through operation Murambatsvina people were resettled in un-serviced areas and were forced to rely on self help options such as pit latrines and wells for drinking. (Country status overview, 2010).