International Medical Corps has launched an emergency water and sanitation campaign in Zimbabwe in anticipation of a cholera outbreak that is expected to strike in the coming weeks with the onset of the rainy season. The project, made possible by the generous support of the American people, benefits 150,000 people living in three districts in Mashonaland Central, and works to reduce the spread of cholera by improving access to clean water as well as personal hygiene practices.
“The six-month project aims to prevent cholera through a comprehensive package of water and sanitation activities,” says Miel Hendrickson, International Medical Corps coordinator for the region. “This includes repairing water systems and latrines, providing water filtration systems, and educating households about personal hygiene activities.”
At the community level, International Medical Corps plans to improve access to safe water by repairing or protecting household and community water points and constructing latrines. At the household level, the project calls for the distribution of hygiene kits and bio-sand filters to treat and safely store water at home. True to its mission to provide relief and enable self-reliance, International Medical Corps’ water and sanitation initiative will engage the community through education and training on personal hygiene activities, maintenance of the water systems, and the project at large.
Nearly 100,000 cases of cholera have been reported in Zimbabwe since August 2008, with approximately 4,300 deaths. Earlier this month, International Medical Corps investigated two confirmed cholera cases and distributed 2,000 hygiene kits provided by UNICEF. International Medical Corps is now working to acquire additional kits in order to ensure effective and timely response in case additional cases arise.