n Journal for Contemporary History - Historical overview of the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe (2008-2009)

Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



This article provides a historical overview of the 2008-2009 cholera pandemic in Zimbabwe. Its main hypothesis is that this outbreak revealed serious health status implications that were not unconnected with a malfunctioning economic and governmental order. The epidemic, of pandemic proportions, has deep-seated historical roots in the country's economic meltdown. Furthermore, it is linked to the exclusion of local municipal authority from its traditional water-governance role. The article discusses the epidemic and evaluates the country's disaster preparedness, bearing in mind that this outbreak was by no means the first in Zimbabwe. At the policy level, sanitary reforms were vital in view of the lukewarm government response to what was a very real national state of emergency. Drawing on an array of United Nations (UN), Red Cross, Ministry of Health and media perspectives on the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, the article focuses on the debate about the erosion of what was a good health system in Africa and the degeneration of a previously sound water, health and sanitation infrastructure.

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