Contaminated water causes cholera

Late last year, a cholera outbreak claimed more than 60 lives in Zambia. The government had to postpone the start of the 2018 school year. The waterborne disease broke out in Lusaka, the capital city, in October. More than 2,000 persons were given medical treatment. Schools, colleges and university stayed closed in January and teaching only resumed in February after the number of cholera cases dropped.

Lusaka was the epicentre of cholera outbreak. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the communicable disease was first reported in Chipata, an unplanned urban settlement. Some primary and secondary schools in this sub-district were kept closed longer than the others. Their sanitation infrastructure is poor.

The disease spreads when people drink water that is contaminated with faecal material. The problem was that supposedly safe wells were contaminated. In the informal settlements where the disease spread fast, pit latrines are common. “The main affected sub-districts, Chipata and Kanyama, are densely populated and have inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure, which favour the spread of the disease,” a WHO report stated.