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WaterAid Urges Immediate WASH Investments to Tackle Cholera

WaterAid, an organization that works towards creating sustainable solutions to empower communities and enhance their overall well-being, is calling for urgent investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions to address the ongoing cholera crisis in Zambia, marking the most severe outbreak since 2017/2018. 

The organization stresses the pivotal role of WASH in eradicating cholera and advocates for expedited national plans to ensure universal access to safe water and sanitation, aiming to prevent future outbreaks.

Cholera has been endemic in Zambia for 47 years, prompting the formulation of the Multi-sectoral Cholera Elimination Plan (MCEP 2019 to 2025) in 2019, with a commitment to eliminate cholera by 2025. Valued at $99 million, the MCEP allocates a significant 67% of its resources to WASH interventions.

The current outbreak, which commenced in October 2023, has affected 50 out of the country’s 116 districts within 9 out of 10 provinces, resulting in a total case load of 9,155 and 362 cumulative deaths. WaterAid applauds the government’s multi-sectoral response but emphasizes the need for long-term solutions.

WaterAid Zambia Country Director, Yankho Mataya, states, “The long-term solution lies in accelerating national plans for achieving universal access to sustainable safe water, sanitation, and hygiene, especially in the Cholera Hotspots.” 

Mr. Mataya underscores the economic benefits of providing essential services that decrease the burden of managing preventable diseases like cholera, ultimately enhancing socio-economic development.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Ms Sylvia Masebo, acknowledges the necessity for increased investments in WASH as a lasting solution. She emphasizes the economic impact of cholera, estimating a cost of K1,500 per person or $26 billion globally each year. 

The cost-benefit modeling for cholera control efforts in Zambia shows that every K25 invested in long-term WASH improvements will result in K700 savings beyond outbreaks.

WaterAid expresses deep concern over the current outbreak’s far-reaching effects, disrupting lives, business, and denying school-going children their right to education as a mitigation measure. 

The organization urges a re-energized effort to eliminate cholera in Zambia, emphasizing the disparity between intent and reality.

While commending ongoing efforts, including the release of K34 million for a water project in Kanyama and sanitation initiatives, WaterAid calls for a comprehensive and sustainable approach to address the root causes of cholera. 

The organization aligns with the government’s directives for upgrading sanitation facilities and pledges continued support towards the emergency response and advocacy for urgent investments in WASH services.

As Zambia grapples with the current cholera outbreak, Mr. Mataya the WaterAid Zambia Country Director emphasized the organization’s commitment to working with the government and other stakeholders to ensure lasting solutions for the health and well-being of communities across the country.

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