With the promulgation of the 1998 Water Act the Government of Zimbabwe took a decisive step to reform the country's water sector, to bring it in line with contemporary socio-political realities obtaining in the country, and in tune with the philosophy of integrated water resources management. Researchers have reported a lack of awareness of the reforms, particularly among the black communities, who were considered not just as one of the target of the reforms, but the beneficiaries. This paper analyses why this has been the case. The paper makes a case for differentiating communication from information dissemination. Information refers to a set of data packaged for delivery to a receiver while communication involves a dialogue. This paper critiques communication strategies used to communicate water reforms in Zimbabwe, applying recent developments in communication theories. The argument in the paper is that there was a failure to communicate although there was some success in dissemination information about the reforms. If the situation is to be reversed then methods that involve audience analysis may have to be used. Such methods tend to be expensive and time consuming-however, there is no substitute to this if integrated water resources management is to be institutionalised among the various stakeholders. (C) 2003 Published by Elsevier Ltd.