Africa-Press – Mozambique. Cholera, diarrhoea and other diseases transmitted by contaminated water are on the rise in Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, due to conflict-related damage in the province, the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) has warned.
“Rapid population movement and limited access to safe water sources in precarious settlements led to the rise of waterborne diseases like cholera and diarrhea.,” reads a statement on a three-day visit to the region by the ICRC’s director of operations, Dominik Stillhart.
“”I think it is very important to pay very serious attention to what is happening here, especially in the North of Mozambique,”” it quoted Stillhart as saying. He stressed that the water available “does not meet any public health standards” because of the lack of supply and sanitation networks, which were already weak before the conflict.”
The ICRC cited a surge in cholera cases in Cabo Delgado, whose number stood at 3,400 at the beginning of August compared to 2,200 cases at the same time in 2020, an increase of 54%, according to data from the World Health Organisation.
In the first half of this year there were also 28,602 cases of diarrhoea registered in the province “becoming the second cause of death among children under five years of age”.
Health centres cannot respond to the problem: 80% are not functioning in the nine most affected districts, and those that are in the other districts are overwhelmed with the 800,000 or so displaced persons who have fled the violence. In addition to the conflict, the province has been hit by a series of devastating floods.
In line with the concerns expressed by the director of operations, the ICRC is working with local authorities to “rehabilitate water, health and sanitation infrastructure and build new ones,” the statement said. Given the vulnerability to climate impacts, “all the ICRC’s new rehabilitation and construction projects are systematically designed and built with resilient infrastructure.”
Among the planned buildings is a new hospital on Ibo Island, the only health facility serving the Quirimbas archipelago off Cabo Delgado.
Cabo Delgado province is rich in natural gas but has been plagued since 2017 by armed rebels, with responsibility for some attacks claimed by the extremist group Islamic State.
The conflict has resulted in more than 3,100 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and displaced more than 817,000 people, according to the Mozambique authorities.
Since July, an offensive by government troops with the support of Rwanda that was later joined by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has helped improve the security situation, with several areas where there was rebel presence having been retaken, including the town of Mocímboa da Praia, which had been occupied since August 2020.