Zimbabwe is struggling to contain a cholera outbreak, with the government estimating that over 100 people have died and 5K have been infected since February.1
Cases have been documented in all of the country's 10 provinces, with the southeastern province of Manicaland reporting more than 1K cases. The government has announced emergency measures to address the situation amid concerns of a repeat of the country's 2008 'national emergency' outbreak.2
In order to stop the spread, the government has placed restrictions in high-risk areas with poor hygiene, such as funerals, outdoor church camps, open-air marketplaces, and unauthorized vendor stands.3
Inadequate sanitation systems and scarcity of clean water have contributed to the rapid spread of cholera, a bacteria contracted through consuming contaminated food or water. Raw sewage and trash have also increased the spread of the disease, with many Zimbabweans being forced to turn to unclean wells and rivers amid clean water shortages.3
Zimbabweans have also complained of a lack of boreholes — narrow water wells that nearly 38 percent of the population rely upon for water. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has acknowledged the country’s infrastructure problems and has announced plans to drill more boreholes.4
The nearby southern African states, including Malawi, South Africa, and Mozambique, have also experienced recurrent cholera outbreaks.4
Narrative A, as provided by Al Jazeera. Zimbabwe is in desperate need of proper sanitation and clean water infrastructure. Cholera has been an issue in the region for a long time, but in the past, more resources were dedicated to mitigating the spread of the disease. The government needs to improve its strategy to prevent a repeat of the 2008 outbreak that killed 4K people.
Narrative B, as provided by ENCA. The government is doing its best to curb the spread of cholera, but it's facing resistance due to religious concerns. Zimbabweans in rural religious communities often don't seek education or medical attention for themselves or their families and are generally unaware of good sanitation practices. The government is conducting outreach in these areas, but traditional leaders must become part of the solution to increase awareness and improve infection prevention.