By Scoop Reporter
WaterAid Southern Africa Regional Office has strongly called for an end to the water and sanitation crisis to tackle cholera in the region.
An emergency meeting of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Health, Environment, Water and Sanitation Ministers in Lilongwe, Malawi, has commenced today, March 9, 2023 ending tomorrow March 10 2023.
In a call for action ahead of the emergency meeting, WaterAid’s Southern Africa Regional Office is calling on governments to urgently focus on addressing the root causes of cholera which is spread due to dirty water and poor sanitation and hygiene.
WaterAid’s Regional Director, Southern Africa, Robert Kampala is concerned that the disease has affected women and girls in SADC countries.
Mr. Kampala says while the world celebrated the 2023 women’s day yesterday, several countries in the SADC region are experiencing the most serious outbreak of cholera in many years.
He says it is sad to note that women and girls are responsible for the larger share of the domestic work not only to prevent but to also respond to cholera outbreaks; fetching and treating water, preparing food and caring for the sick.
Mr. Kampala notes that the World Health Organization (WHO) has called the current outbreak in Malawi “the deadliest in the country’s history”.
The WaterAid’s Regional Director, Southern Africa, says the organization is further saddened that cholera has also spread to Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
He says the disease has coincided with a storm season which has brought floods in Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa thereby severely impacting people’s access to clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene (WASH) in affected areas.
“Due to climate change and poor WASH infrastructure and hygiene practices or behaviors, cholera outbreaks have become a frequent occurrence in the SADC region in recent years and especially during the rainy seasons. The outbreaks are deadlier affecting larger numbers of people including loss of thousands of lives each year.
“This year, Malawi and Mozambique have been the worst affected with Cholera outbreak and floods compared to the other countries in the region. South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe continue to register a growing number of infections,” he said.