A cholera epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Katanga province has killed 257 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA).
More than 11,000 cholera cases have been reported in the province since the beginning of the year.
The outbreak has been concentrated on the main city of Lubumbashi where over 6,000 cases have been reported since May.
Aid agencies in the region say the outbreak was due to lack of clean water sources and poor sanitation, especially among the internally displaced population.
OCHA spokesperson in Geneva Jens Larke says humanitarian partners are therefore focusing on water treatment and hygiene information campaigns to stem the spread of the disease. Organizations on the ground estimate that they will need an additional $1.9 million to urgently implement water, sanitation and hygiene projects in local communities between now and the end of the year. Many of the worst hit areas are also highly insecure and with limited access because of clashes between the Congolese army and the Mai-Mai group “Bakata Katanga,”and between the Mai-Mai and various self-defence groups. Katanga has in recent years been a relatively stable province in D.R. Congo, but due to the proliferation of armed groups, there are now some 350,000 internally displaced people of whom over 43,000 have been displaced in the first quarter of this year alone.
OCHA says in addition to cholera and growing insecurity, food security is a major problem in Katanga where over 1.2 million people are food insecure.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.