Extreme Weather Fuelling Deadly Cholera Outbreaks Across Africa

The last three years have seen a relentless string of extreme weather events – including tropical storms, floods, and droughts – ravage parts of Africa, causing crises of hunger and displacement. Left in the wake of these disasters is another deadly threat: some of the continent’s worst cholera outbreaks on record.

Since late 2021, over 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases reported across southern and East Africa as a series of cholera epidemics have taken hold. Countries like Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have all been severely impacted, with health authorities, scientists and aid agencies citing the unprecedented surges as a consequence of the extreme weather.

Experts say the outbreaks are growing larger as extreme climate events become more common. Floods and droughts have contaminated water sources, forcing people to rely on unsafe supplies and fuelling the spread of the water-borne bacterial infection. With a global shortage of cholera vaccines, many vulnerable communities lack access to preventative measures, leading to high mortality rates.

Africa has had eight times as many deaths due to cholera this year as the Middle East, the second-most affected region, according to WHO.

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