The Zimbabwean government has declared a state of emergency in the capital city of Harare after a cholera outbreak claimed the lives of more than 20 people.

According to the country’s health minister Obediah Moyo the decision was taken in order to contain the outbreak which is spreading across the country with at least 2000 cases recorded thus far.

Moyo has linked the outbreak to poor waste disposal systems and broken sewers which may have contaminated water sources in Harare.

Commenting on the outbreak Maxwell Phiri, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Red Cross, said the situation is incredibly complex.

“Most of the areas affected have already been dealing with an outbreak of typhoid. So, this is a double punch for them, and it shows the weakness of water systems even here in the capital.

“There is also a lot of movement of people between Harare and rural areas, and we’re very worried this could drive a very rapid spread of the disease.”

Emergency water treatment services

More than 1 000 Red Cross volunteers are fanning out through the suburbs of Zimbabwe’s providing water treatment, tracking and referral services, and are going door-to-door to provide families in high risk areas with information about cholera prevention.

This is the second major cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe within a decade. In 2008, one of the worst cholera outbreaks to hit the country infected more than 100,000 people and claimed more than 4 000 lives.

Earlier this year four people died from Cholera in the town of Chegutu which is reportedly plagued by the diseases regularly as a result of ageing infrastructure and poor service delivery, according to a report by NewsDay Zimbabwe Live.