Headline News


Zimbabweans face severe cholera epidemic threats


Source: | 12-08-2008 13:46

Zimbabweans say they are forced to drink dirty water despite the threat of cholera which has already killed hundreds.

And deaths from the water-borne disease are expected to spiral during the oncoming rainy season.

Zimbabwean women and children fetch water from an unprotected well in Harare last month.(AFP/File/Desmond Kwande)
Zimbabwean women and children fetch water from an
unprotected well in Harare last month.
(AFP/File/Desmond Kwande)

The situation is no better for those who made their way to South Africa to escape the crisis.

Teresa Dambiza has no option but to collect dirty water from this well. She lives in a crowded suburb of Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. Teresa has not had water in her home since April. She's afraid of catching cholera, but this well is the only one available and she can't afford water disinfectant pills.

Teresa Dambiza, Suburban Harare Resident, said, "We don't boil this water, we just use it direct. We don't have even money to buy the pills, we drink it as it is. We use it to cook food, tea, everything that you want to use water for."

Some Zimbabwean traders are bringing food and other much needed commodities from neighboring South Africa. However, much of it is confiscated or destroyed if it is discovered by Zimbabwean police.

On the other side of the border, refugees in South Africa also face illness and disease because they lack access to clean water.

Kggetsa Nare, Coordinator of South African Red Cross, said, "The water that is around here is not clean. The living conditions as we can see is not clean, so I think just because they do not have the right utensils to boil their water or to drink proper water they get sick because of that."

A South African government is dispatching more military health workers to the border and sending clean water and other aid into Zimbabwe.

But for Teresa Dambiza and her neighbors, the worst is yet to come as the rainy season sets in. Downpours lash Harare and other parts of the country, washing raw sewage through the streets and into the water supply.

Zimbabwe has declared a national health emergency. The United Nations estimates the cholera epidemic has killed nearly 600 people, out of more than 12-thousand infected since August.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei