Communities in five villages around Limpopo's Malamulele area have been without water for three months.
Provincial water affairs and forestry department head Alison Mathukani blamed the Vhembe District Municipality.
"The department can only help if the district municipality asks us to. Since 2003, we have transferred all our resources to the municipality, said Mathukani.
Villager Maria Ngoveni from Nhombelani said: "I have only managed to survive by going to a dirty stream to dig and fetch water.
"Now there is not a single drop in the ground because there is no rain. If the government does not intervene, we will die."