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Deadly Cholera Could Return, Warn Municipal Officials in Harare, Zimbabwe

Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Chiroto said Harare has been struggling to make sure residents have access to clean water, but it is having trouble keeping up with trash collections in most of the capital’s townships

Municipal officials in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare are warning of mounting risk of a new new cholera epidemic in the country as waterborne diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and watery diarrhea surge toward dangerous levels.

Harare Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Chiroto said most of the conditions are in place for a cholera epidemic on the scale seen from late 2008 to mid-2009 when nearly 100,000 cases were reported and the disease claimed the lives of more than 4,200 people.

Chiroto said Harare has been struggling to make sure residents have access to clean water and is having difficulty keeping up with rubbish collections in most townships.

Last week the United Nations launched its annual consolidated appeal process for Zimbabwe with a target of US$268 million for humanitarian aid in 2012.

Officials cited long neglect of water and sanitation systems which has left 8 million Zimbabweans vulnerable to water contamination and disease.

Chiroto told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that many in the city are vulnerable to water-borne diseases as they drink from unprotected water sources.

Dr. Portia Manangazira, the Ministry of Health's chief of epidemiology and disease control, said residents should collect rain to improve supplies of clean water.

"We really have a problem, especially now when the rainy season has begun," said Dr. Manangazira. "What makes it worse is that most of the cities, especially Harare, have told us that they cannot provide adequate and quality water so we have a crisis."

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