Addis Abeba – The European Union has announced an additional €1 million in humanitarian funding to aid Ethiopia in its response to a severe cholera outbreak. Since its emergence in August 2022, the outbreak has affected over 26,000 individuals and led to more than 370 deaths across multiple regions.
The EU’s assistance aims to strengthen healthcare services, prevention efforts, and access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene in affected communities. The funding will be utilized for treatment capabilities, medical supplies, staff training, and community engagement in preventive measures.
This cholera epidemic adds to the existing humanitarian challenges faced in vulnerable areas affected by conflicts and climate shocks, such as droughts and floods. The situation has been worsened by wetter weather conditions associated with the El Niño pattern, which facilitate the spread of waterborne diseases.
The outbreak initially began in August 2022, when the first cholera case was confirmed in the Harana Buluk district of the Bale Zone. By October, it had spread to two additional districts in the region.
As of March 2023, the nationwide reports reached over 2,276 cases and 50 deaths, putting 3.3 million people at risk. A subsequent report in May 2023 revealed nearly 6,200 cases across 54 areas, resulting in 94 deaths and endangering 7 million people. By early August, the cases had continued to rise, with over 16,800 reported cases and 212 deaths in the Oromia, Sidama, and Somali regions.
In July 2023, the outbreak was reported in the Amhara region, with 2,500 confirmed cases across 25 districts. Approximately 190 suspected cases and 4 deaths were recorded at the Kumer refugee camp, which accommodates 10,000 Sudanese refugees, as of September 2023.
According to the United Nations, Ethiopia needed $4 billion for its 2023 humanitarian appeal. The significant funding gap posed challenges to effectively responding to the emerging cholera crisis and other health emergencies, particularly for over 1.2 million children suffering from acute malnutrition.
This year, the EU has allocated €82.5 million in humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia, with a focus on aiding vulnerable groups, including refugees and internally displaced individuals affected by various crises. AS