BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) is seeking US$20,3 million to co-ordinate a major humanitarian aid operation focussed on preventing an outbreak of cholera in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, where Cyclone Idai has claimed several hundreds of lives and displaced thousands others.
Cyclone Idai, which has left several thousands stranded and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, has united Zimbabweans through various aid mobilisation efforts to assist the victims.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared the cyclone a national disaster.
Unicef warned the impact of the cyclone damage to water and sanitation infrastructure, impeding access to safe water for affected communities increased the risk of water-borne diseases such as cholera.
“Unicef is appealing for US$20,3 million to support the response in the three affected countries. Unicef is working with partners to support the governments of the affected countries (Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi) to provide life-saving interventions to meet the needs of children and women impacted by the cyclone and floods,” the UN agency said in a statement.
“The response will include health, with a focus on cholera response and prevention; education, to minimise service disruption and enhancing safe access to schools; protection, catering particularly to the needs of internally displaced persons; water, sanitation and hygiene, to ensure access to clean and safe water, increased use of sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion; and nutrition, focusing on preventing under-five mortality attributable to malnutrition.”
Cholera has become a near-permanent feature in Zimbabwe, with deaths being recorded annually due to poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water.
Government has, however, come under attack for failing to anticipate the effects of the cyclone, which, according to estimates from government, has affected nearly 2 000 households, with over 100 deaths and over 200 others missing.