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Zimbabwe cholera: IFRC launches ten-million-Swiss franc appeal

Tuesday December 23, 2008

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today (23 December) launched an appeal1 for 10.2 million Swiss franc (9.2 million US dollars, 6.6 million euro) to fund a massive response to the ongoing cholera crisis in Zimbabwe.

The appeal has been launched on behalf of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) to help 1.5 million people in need over the next seven months. This represents a significant increase of the activities of the ZRCS, who have already reached 11,000 people since early November.

According to latest UN figures, more than 1,100 people have died, with a further 20,800 people falling ill. Fears are growing that the situation could deteriorate further with the arrival of seasonal rains, when cholera cases typically peak, and with mass population movement as people travel during the holiday season.

'If major action is not taken now, an already bad situation could get much, much worse,' warns John Fleming, IFRC's Southern Africa zone health and care coordinator.

The appeal will provide additional medical supplies, increase safe water provision and sanitation facilities, train staff and volunteers to deliver an extensive education programme, and put in place measures to mitigate the impact of future cholera outbreaks.

As part of the appeal operation, seven Emergency Response Units (ERUs) have already arrived in Zimbabwe. Three of the ERUs will provide basic health care, operating as cholera treatment centres and hubs for volunteer activities; two of the ERUs will provide mass sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion; and a further two ERUs will provide clean water for 55,000 people. The seven ERUs have been provided by the partner Red Cross societies of Finland, Britain, Japan, Australia, France, Spain, Norway, Canada, Germany and Austria.

Francoise Le Goff, head of the IFRC's Southern Africa zone, says: 'A concerted effort by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society and the government has brought together Red Cross Red Crescent partners in a coordinated response to the cholera outbreak. The appeal operation will see hundreds of Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers working to help the affected people.'

The ERUs will reinforce the work of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, which has been active since the beginning of the cholera outbreak and is working directly with communities.

South Africa, Angola, Botswana and Mozambique have also seen an increase in cholera cases recently, a worrying situation that is being closely monitored by the IFRC. The numbers of cases in Angola are very high, with more than 10,000 cases in 12 of the country's 18 provinces reported so far this year.

In response to the situation in Mozambique, the IFRC has already released 82,000 Swiss franc (75,000 US dollars, 52,000 euro) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) in November, to support the Mozambique Red Cross Society.

Notes to editors

Examples of what the emergency appeal will provide:

  • Three cholera treatment centres, through the three basic health care ERUs, with the capacity to treat 30,000 people per month

  • 80,000 sachets of oral re-hydration salts (ORS) distributed in local communities

  • 55,000 people with safe water, through the provision of emergency water supplied by the two water and sanitation ERUs

  • One million water purification sachets

  • Drilling of 50 new boreholes, equipped with hand pumps or pressure hand pumps

  • 500,000 cholera education and information pamphlets in official local languages
  • Education and communication campaigns, reaching 1.5 million people in the most affected areas in official local languages.
  • The operation implemented as a result of the Zimbabwe cholera appeal is expected to be completed in June 2009.

The IFRC has already released 400,000 Swiss francs (366,116 US dollars, 259,991 euro) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to fund the initial response of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society to the cholera outbreak.

The International Federation, the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. For further information on International Federation activities, please visit our web site:

1 This is a preliminary appeal. Findings from further assessments might mean that the IFRC will re-appeal and increase the amount of money required in order to reach additional beneficiaries.