The United Nations humanitarian arm warned today that $5.5 million is urgently needed from donors to combat an outbreak of cholera that has infected more than 17,000 people in the Congo. Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that extra resources are needed to continue the work of both UN aid agencies and non-governmental organizations in responding to the outbreak.
Four provinces along the Congo River – Bandundu, Equateur, Kinshasa and Orientale – are the worst affected by the epidemic, but cases have now been reported in eight of the country’s 11 provinces and the rainy season is about to begin.
OCHA said cholera is particularly difficult to tackle in the Congo because of the impoverished country’s persistent water, hygiene and sanitation problems. Many villages and communities do not have access to clean drinking water or to decent toilets, and people are often reluctant to report cases for either social or financial reasons.
The $5.5 million sought will be split between water and sanitation activities and a medical response, with the country’s western provinces the focus of most aid activities.
In July, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund allocated $4 million so the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund can bolster their activities.
Source: UN News Centre