Cholera Spreads in Zimbabwe


A man dug a grave at a cemetery in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. A ferocious cholera epidemic, spread by water contaminated with human excrement, has stricken more than 16, 000 people across Zimbabwe since August and killed more than 780 people.

Photo: The New York Times



Cholera stole five children from the Chigudu family in two days, and their grandmother and aunt who helped care for them died just days later. They are mourned by their mother, Tsitsi.

Photo: The New York Times


Graves of the Chigudu family in Granaville Cemetery. Their father, who returned home just hours after the last of his children died, got his first inkling of unspeakable calamity when his youngest ones weren’t there to clamber all over him as he walked in the door. “I will never get my children back,” he said.

An infant who died of cholera, in a mortuary in Harare. The parents, possibly also dead of cholera, never claimed the child.

Photo: The New York Times



The dead in a morgue. The capital’s two largest hospitals, sprawling facilities that once would have provided sophisticated care in just such a crisis, had largely shut down weeks earlier after doctors and nurses, their salaries rendered virtually worthless by the nation’s crippling hyperinflation, stopped coming to work.

Photo: The New York Times



Coffin makers report an increase in sales. With the cholera spilling into neighboring countries, and millions of people enduring severe hunger, there are rising international calls for Mr. Mugabe to step down after 28 years in power. But he seems only to be digging in and even declared Thursday that the nation’s cholera epidemic had ended, a day after the World Health Organization warned that the outbreak was grave enough to carry “serious regional implications.”

Photo: The New York Times



One manufacturer said he used to sell one child-sized coffin a week. Last week, he sold 15.

Photo: The New York Times



The United Nation’s Children’s Fund and international donors have begun trucking tankers of fresh water into the most densely settled suburbs and will be providing water-treatment chemicals for the city. But some aid officials fear that the epidemic will be impossible to contain because of the failing water and sanitation systems in places like Budiriro, where raw sewage spills onto the street.

Photo: The New York Times

When Philadelphia Mbavha, 28, died of cholera, she left behind her children, Patrick, 9, and Panashe, 4, who was led away from his mother’s grave after her burial.