Cholera outbreak in eastern MaliListen /
Humanitarian agencies are warning of a major cholera outbreak in Gao in eastern Mali due to lack of access to clean drinking water.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says over 60 per cent of Gao's population of 70,000 people have no access to clean drinking water.
Already, 22 cases of cholera have been reported in Gao with two fatalities.
Jens Laerke from OCHA says although no new cases have been reported in the past five days, the risk of cholera remains high.
"The Humanitarian Coordinator for Mali, Aurélien Agbénonci, was in Gao on mission 25 May with OCHA, WFP and WHO. He said after the mission that the rehabilitation of water supply is imperative to urgently assist the population of some 70,000 people in the town. Some neighbourhoods in Gao do not have water at all due to dysfunctional pumps and lack of electricity. Outside of the city the situation is even worse because the Niger River is the only source of water and there are concerns about cholera outbreaks. There is food distribution ongoing to about a third of the population in Gao, but that covers only part of the needs, according to the mission participants."
The US$410 million United Nations humanitarian appeal for Mali is currently 29 per cent funded.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.