Angola Red Cross responds to increasing cholera cases due to floods

Publié: 29 février 2008 0:00 CET

Martina Schwikowski, International Federation

Cholera is on the increase in Cunene Province in the South of Angola. Since January, due to heavy rainfall resulting in floods, some 12,980 people have been displaced in the village of Sangongo and the provincial capital Ondgiva. Five to seven new cholera cases are reported daily, 82 people have already died.

Angolan Red Cross (ARC) volunteers are working together with local communities to take precautions. “The construction of latrines is urgently needed”, said Walter Bombo Guange Quifica, Red Cross Secretary General based in Angola’s capital Luanda. The ARC formed partnerships with other agencies to respond to the crisis and 100 latrines in the affected area have already been built in cooperation with Oxfam.

The ARC has distributed tablets for water purification and liquids against dehydration. But the lack of infrastructure is delaying the response. The German Red Cross Society has allocated USD 30,000 over three months to fund awareness and prevention of cholera campaigns. Funds are urgently needed and negotiations with local donors are taking place to address the most pressing needs of the displaced population.

In addition, the Angolan government has created various health posts to also distribute medicine against malaria and respiratory infection diseases which are developing at a rapid rate at the moment with the ongoing heavy rains, according to meteorologists.

“Many crop fields have been washed away”, says Quifica. About 8,000 herds of cattle died in the flooding. “People have lost everything, their homes and livelihood.” 298 families have been relocated from the flooded areas to safer places provided by two camps set up by government directly in Ondgiva. 2,200 other families have been accommodated in a local school. “There is a need for food, clothes, tents and kitchen-kits”, says Mr  Quifica.

This year’s floods have also affected Moxico province in East Angola and the northern province of Uige. While Angola last year experienced the worst floods around Moxico, currently the most affected area is the South of the country around Cunene Province.

With more heavy rains expected, many communities are facing another threat: landmines are being washed up. Usually the areas are marked and the local population is aware of these fields. “But floods loosen the soil and landmines are coming up anywhere unexpectedly,”,says Quifica. “Our volunteers are working on the ground together with government agencies to raise awareness in order to prevent accidents.”

Both, the National Commission of Civil Protection and the ARC are in the process of drawing up a plan of action. The weather could worsen in the coming month with El Nino effects already predicted.