WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) continues to provide assistance to the people of Zimbabwe in the aftermath of a widespread cholera outbreak that began in August 2008. USAID is consigning nearly 440,000 bars of soap-valued at nearly $365,000-to the U.N. Children’s Fund, which will provide it to humanitarian organizations to distribute as part of hygiene education programs in areas most affected by the cholera outbreak.
According to the World Health Organization, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has now affected all provinces and 57 out of 62 districts. As of January 22, 2009, more than 48,000 cases of cholera and 2,755 deaths have been reported.
Cholera is usually transmitted through contaminated water or food. Outbreaks can occur sporadically in any part of the world where water supply, sanitation, food safety, and hygiene are inadequate and spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water. Although cholera is contagious, it can be prevented. USAID and the international community are diligently working in Zimbabwe to help prevent the spread of the disease.
To date, USAID has pledged $6.8 million in emergency assistance for Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak. USAID’s assistance is supporting the provision of emergency relief supplies for affected populations, humanitarian coordination and information management, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and health interventions.
This assistance is in addition to the more than $4 million that USAID has provided for emergency WASH programs in Zimbabwe since October 2007. The U.S. Government has provided more than $264 million in humanitarian assistance for Zimbabwe’s ongoing health and food crisis since October 2007.