Zimbabweans live in fear of disease while it’s ‘raining cholera’
Shamiso Mushonga, eight months’ pregnant with her third child, feels like a prisoner in her two-room shack. She’s terrified that she or her children could be exposed to cholera if they walk the streets of their neighborhood in Budiriro, a densely populated slum on the outskirts of Harare.
She has good reason to worry. The disease has already killed her husband, along with more than 1,100 others. And the current epidemic shows no signs of abating.
Budiriro, a vast, squalid wasteland of shacks amid piles of refuse, is home to hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans. It has neither a sewage system nor a fresh water supply. With the rainy season now in full swing, pools of human waste, along with the runoff from the mounds of trash, collect in the streets, creating a virtual Petri dish for disease.
“It’s raining cholera, literally,” Mushonga said.
International aid agencies say conditions appears to be getting worse despite their best efforts to stop the spread of the water-borne disease.
“People are living in extremely bad conditions here,” said a water and sanitation expert with Doctors without Borders who declined to allow his name to be used out of concern for his security. “As you can see, there are mountains of rubbish everywhere. So, when the rains started coming, it washed all this rubbish and excrement through the area.”