Cholera Crisis Hits Zimbabwe Over Chronic Water Shortages

Zimbabwe is currently battling to stem the spread of deadly cholera in its cities and villages due to the fact that the country simply lacks clean water.

Africa Today News, New York reports that Cholera which is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, can spread quickly in cramped and dirty conditions.

In this country of southern Africa, it has become a sort of grim reaper; during the already chaotic and frenetic 2008–2009 season, almost 4,000 people died from the water-borne illness.

When hyper-inflation crested at 80% of GDP, it signalled the beginning of a historic power-sharing administration that eventually had to confront the rapidly escalating political and economic crises.

Inflation is back on the rise today, and cholera has spread to all ten provinces in the nation, mostly harming youngsters who are frequently left unattended in the oppressive heat while their parents try to find employment.

This outbreak first struck back in February and as October ended official figures from the Health and Childcare Department are listing nearly 6,000 cases and some 123 suspected deaths.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who won disputed polls in August for a second term in office, has promised a nationwide borehole drilling programme.

This is to be supported by solar-powered water points, mainly to serve some 35,000 villages which do not have access to clean drinking water.

In the capital, Harare, residents can go for weeks, or even months, without a regular supply of water from the Harare City Council. In Harare’s satellite township of Chitungwiza, more than 50 deaths were reported as October ended – all from cholera.

Chitungwiza is a city all of its own given its size and population, but the infrastructure of its water works and civil planning have barely caught up with an ever-expanding population and a massive exodus from the villages to the city in the constant search for work.

‘In Chitungwiza things are not good as far as water is concerned. There have been many people affected by cholera and every year it’s the same,’ said Mr Chibanda, who commutes by car daily to central Harare for his job as a printer. He said he had heard of several deaths in his neighbourhood.

‘Our water supply is not good, residents are resorting to buying mineral water from the supermarkets to save their lives but of course it’s hitting their pockets.’

Out in Mutare, the main city in Manicaland’s eastern highlands, it is the same story – more infections from cholera and a city struggling to serve their residents with the most basic of needs – clean water.

Social media is full of cholera information alerts, though a comment earlier this month on the health ministry’s Facebook page from a resident in the southern city of Bulawayo summed up the predicament for most: “How can we wash our hands? We don’t have running water in Bulawayo – for almost two weeks now.”

It is not straightforward to see which of these can be pinned on President Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe, but the reported cholera cases point to a lack of will or ability or both to stem the occurrences by providing fresh water.

Africa Today News, New York

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