Africa’s cholera crisis worsens amid extreme weather events

Since late 2021, extreme weather events in Southern and East Africa have triggered severe cholera outbreaks, resulting in over 6,000 deaths and nearly 350,000 cases. Countries like Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia face unprecedented surges as storms, floods, and drought exacerbate the crisis.

In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021.

A family uses a boat after fleeing floodwaters that wrought havoc in the Githurai area of Nairobi, Kenya, in April. [Patrick Ngugi/AP Photo]

Extreme weather events that have relentlessly hit parts of Africa in the last three years have caused crises of hunger and displacement. The storms, floods and drought also leave another deadly threat behind: some of the continent’s worst outbreaks of cholera.

In Southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. Malawi and Zambia have had their worst outbreaks on record. Zimbabwe has had multiple waves. Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia also have been badly affected. All have experienced floods or drought ¬Ė or both.

Health authorities, scientists and aid agencies say the unprecedented surge of the water-borne bacterial infection in Africa is the newest example of how extreme weather is playing a role in driving disease outbreaks.

¬ďThe outbreaks are getting much larger because the extreme climate events are getting much more common,¬Ē said Tulio de Oliveira, a South Africa-based scientist who studies diseases in the developing world.

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News date: 2024-07-08


KRISP has been created by the coordinated effort of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the South African Medical Research Countil (SAMRC).

Location: K-RITH Tower Building
Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, UKZN
719 Umbilo Road, Durban, South Africa.
Director: Prof. Tulio de Oliveira