Friday, December 26, 2008

aid workers struggle to stop cholera

from IWPR

Budiriro, a vast, squalid wasteland of shacks and refuse, is home to hundreds of thousands. The shanties resemble a collage of scrap lumber, rusted metal and chicken wire....
The city slum presents a picture of total neglect – stinking pools of stagnant water, overflowing drains and rotting garbage out in the open.

With the onset of the rainy season, there has been a sharp increase in the incidence of the water-borne disease in Budiriro.

“It’s raining cholera, literally,” Mushonga tells IWPR.

Aid agencies warn that in spite of their efforts to try to halt its spread, the cholera outbreak could get worse, as rainwater washes human excrement into the open drains....

The response has been immediate, with international financiers and western governments providing clean drinking water, purifying tablets and medicines.

But donors have voiced outrage at statements by Mugabe that the epidemic has now been brought under control, even as UNICEF reported that the disease has spread to two-thirds of the country and has begun spilling over into neighbouring Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique, mainly because of heavy rain.

While UNICEF is trucking in fresh water supplies to the country, this is still not enough to meet the demand.

In areas where the supply runs out, people are forced to buy water from neighbouring suburbs. The trade in water is rife with profiteering – the cost is ten times higher than what the residents with piped water pay to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, ZINWA.

In a place where many people live on less than 50 US cents a day, most simply cannot buy it and are forced to scoop it out of filthy drains.

Though the government claims that it is addressing sanitation problems, the reality on the ground is different.

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