AS one of the worst droughts in living memory takes hold in Somalia – giving rise to fears of another famine – the number of cholera cases is rising sharply.
According to Save the Children, fewer than 200 cases were reported in the first week of November. Just in the second week of February, there were 1,400, bringing the total to more than 8,400, with 200 deaths.
Once Vibrio cholerae reaches the small intestine, it can kill its host within hours. Death is usually caused by severe dehydration – those infected can produce between 10 and 20 litres of watery diarrhoea every day – and by electrolyte imbalance.
The election of Somalia’s new President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo last month, gave widespread hope that efforts would be stepped up to advance peace and stability in the country, which has been in conflict for over 25 years.
Since the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, know as AMISOM, was deployed to the country in 2007, the Al-Shabaab militant group has been significantly degraded but remains a lethal force with the capacity to continue destabilising the country for years to come.
A famine and widening cholera epidemic, could combine to make it harder for President Farmajo to stabilise the country.