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Monitoring at CTC in Mutare. Taken by Takudzwa Ngirazi-min © Takudzwa Ngirazi pour Action contre la Faim



Zimbabwe is facing a cholera epidemic

Cholera is an acute bacterial intestinal disease characterized by the sudden onset of diarrhea, often accompanied by vomiting, which can rapidly lead to severe dehydration and cardiovascular arrest, and ultimately death, if left untreated.  Open defecation, the use of unprotected water sources, poor hygiene and limited access to Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) services and health care are all factors responsible for the spread of the epidemic in the country.

Since February, Action Against Hunger has been implementing an emergency response in seven of the country’s high-prevalence districts: Mutare (Manicaland Province), Harare and Chitungwiza (Harare Province), Gutu and Bikita (Masvingo Province) Beitbridge district (Matabeleland Southern Province) and Chiredzi¹. In partnership with the local association, Africa Ahead, a key long-standing partner of ACF and International Medical Corp, and with financial support from ECHO (European Commission for Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid), our response focuses on Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) activities. 

Within the seven affected districts, Action Against Hunger teams aim to improve access to clean water services and quality of care services within 13 cholera treatment centers (CTCs) set up by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health.

In practice, Action Against Hunger is helping to rehabilitate access to water in the treatment centers, train health care center staff in the management of cholera cases from detection to treatment, and distribute non-food items such as hygiene kits (buckets, jerry cans, water treatment tablets, soaps, and etc.).

“Cholera is endemic and therefore not a new subject for Zimbabwe, which has already experienced three episodes of epidemics of this type in 15 years (2009 and 2019),” points out Livison Chipatiso, Head of Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Department at ACF Zimbabwe country office. “Water scarcity and lack of infrastructure is a chronic problem in the country, where 27% of the population have no access to drinking water”.²

In addition, an unstable economy, an underfunded healthcare system, and climatic hazards such as the El Nino phenomenon have a considerable impact on people’s living conditions and their access to essential services. At the beginning of April, the government declared a state of emergency in response to the ongoing drought, which is impacting Zimbabwean’s food insecurity. “The current El Nino phenomenon is likely to exacerbate water shortages and encourage people to use non-potable water sources more. Also, the rainy season may bring cyclones and floods that will contaminate water sources. Altogether, it will create the ideal conditions for a resurgence of cholera cases beyond the current situation, which is already alarming”, worries Livison.

According to the World Health Organization, cholera has been on the rise worldwide since 2021, particularly in Eastern and Southern Africa. Zimbabwe is currently one of the worst-affected countries in the world, closely followed by neighboring Zambia and Mozambique.


[1] In Chiredzi district, we are operating only with Africa Ahead and thanks to Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) fundings.


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