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PSI, UNICEF Partner on Early Cholera Relief | Published 09.29.09

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A PSI/Zimbabwe outreach worker
shows residents of Chitungwiza
how to dose drinking water correctly
with water treatment tablets.

CHITUNGWIZA, Zimbabwe, September 4, 2008 — PSI/Zimbabwe’s Farai Chieza received an urgent call from UNICEF Zimbabwe with news of a cholera outbreak in Chitungwiza, a low income, densely-populated area near Harare.

UNICEF needed PSI to distribute point-of-use water treatment tablets and conduct hygiene promotion interpersonal communication activi ties through the Safe Water project. So the sales distribution team — which includes the New Start HIV testing. New counseling center, New Life post-test support center and a local partner Chitungwiza UTANO — responded quickly. Within three days, over 300,000 tablets were distributed through almost 300 retail outlets, New Start and New Life centers, and free distribution through UTANO.

During the same period, PSI/Zim babwe reached 400 households with a door-to-door hygiene promotion and a home-based water treatment campaign. The full response involved several of partners, including UTANO, local town council health officers and Oxfam GB. Since then, PSI/Zimbabwe has been a proactive member of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene cluster of international NGOs, lead ing hygiene promotion and home-based water treatment activities in the country.

In densely populated urban areas, intermittent water supply and dete riorating infrastructure have adversely affected the availability of water from improved sources. Diarrheal episodes in children under age five increased from 9% in 1999 to 12% in 2006, a survey found. In 2007, diarrhea outbreaks have been reported in high-density areas of Harare, Bulawayo, Kwekwe, Gweru and Kadoma.

PSI/Zimbabwe is implementing a $296,662 hygiene promotion and home-based water treatment proj ect funded by UNICEF within the Harare-Bulawayo corridor. The goal is to reduce incidence of diarrhea in project areas among children under five and HIV-positive persons. Mass media and IPC activities will be used to promote hygienic water storage and handling, and hand washing practices; and 20 million water treatment tablets planned for distribution. To date, more than three million water treat ment tablets have been distributed through social marketing and free distribution through NGO partnerships.

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