UNICEF and WHO Scale Up Government Led Cholera Response in Communities with Support of ECHO

The European Commission Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) has provided USD 1 million to respond to the cholera outbreak in Zambia, strengthening current systems and building resilient communities.

17 April 2024

Lusaka, 17 April 2024 - As cholera continues to impact communities in Zambia, UNICEF and WHO are partnering with ECHO to not only respond to the current crisis, but also address the underlying root causes of cholera, especially inadequate access to safe water and sanitation facilities. As part of this intervention, ECHO will contribute USD 1 million to UNICEF and WHO to support the joint efforts towards Zambia’s cholera response. 

While cases of cholera in Lusaka are decreasing, other areas like Copperbelt, are seeing an increase. More support is needed to activate a cross-sectoral approach to eliminate all cases of cholera nationwide. ECHO will be expanding the current cholera response plan shared by WHO, UNICEF and partners, through enhancing Cholera Treatment Centres (CTCs), establishing more Oral Rehydration Points in affected communities, providing WASH and Health supplies, developing additional educational prevention materials and improving community-based volunteer work and the existing referral system. This support will continue until June, providing support to high-burden locations in Lusaka and other locations.

“Zambia is facing a critical need for additional support to respond to the devastating cholera outbreak, and we are honoured to support the important work being led by UNICEF and WHO," said Michele Angeletti, who helps oversee EU humanitarian programmes in Zambia. "We are also developing sustainable systems and programmes that will aid communities in responding to future emergencies for years to come. Together, we’re confident we can bring an end to the outbreak.”

With this funding from ECHO, UNICEF and WHO will be able to rapidly scale up existing activities based on specific trends and patterns, risks and needs assessments, in hotspots of the evolving outbreak. As of April 3, all ten provinces have reported cases of cholera with seven provinces confirming cholera outbreaks. Cumulative cases stand at 22,800, with 32% of these being children under the age of 16. In addition, 732 deaths have been recorded, with a case fatality ratio of 3.2 per cent, much higher than the acceptable 1 per cent. Lusaka remains the epicentre in terms of cases and deaths. However, cases are increasing in other regions of the country and require heightened surveillance and intervention.  

“The support from ECHO to expand our programmes and scale up current interventions is instrumental to ending the cholera outbreak in Zambia. We will be able to provide crucial support to respond to current cases and assist with creating resilient communities, which will be key as we’re seeing an increase in climate induced emergencies, like drought, which can lead to the spread of water-borne diseases like cholera, water scarcity, and limited access to safe drinking water. We must ensure that children, who are disproportionately affected during emergencies and represent one-third of the cholera cases in Zambia1, will be protected against future cholera outbreaks through prevention measures and increased access to safe water,” said Dr Penelope Campbell, Representative, UNICEF Zambia. 

“Through this generous funding from ECHO, we are confident that we will not only bolster the Government of the Republic of Zambia’s cholera response efforts, but also ensure that we safeguard the health and well-being of many hard-hit communities across Zambia, by putting in place readiness and preventable measures, for emergencies like this one. This collaboration fortifies our shared commitment to serving the people of Zambia, leaving no one behind in this fight against cholera and ensuring a healthier and more resilient Zambia.” stated Dr. Nathan Nsubuga Bakyaita, WHO Representative to Zambia. 

With this support from ECHO, UNICEF and WHO plan to reach two million children and families impacted by the cholera outbreak through health services and WASH programmes. 

For further information, please contact:

Maria Fernandez: Chief - Communication, Advocacy, Partnerships and Engagement, UNICEF Zambia. Email: mfernandez@unicef.org  

Betty Chella Nalungwe: Communication Officer, UNICEF Zambia. Email: bcnalungwe@unicef.org  

Media contacts

Maria Fernandez
Chief of Communication, Advocacy, Partnerships and Engagement
Tel: +260 977 300 636


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Zambia, visit www.unicef.org/zambia.

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