Cholera crisis: ‘We cannot vaccinate our way out of this pandemic’

10 March 2023
WaterAid/ Dennis Lupenga

WaterAid UK’s Senior Health Policy Analyst Arielle Nylander said:

“Whilst Malawi's situation is particularly grave, there is an alarming global cholera crisis sweeping the globe that cannot be ignored any longer.

“Climate change is greatly increasing the vulnerability of many countries to cholera, including in fragile settings areas where the disease is not endemic. This is on top of longstanding drivers like conflict, poverty, humanitarian crises and population displacement. Economic challenges such as stretched public funding due to post-Covid recovery and the spill-over effects of the war in Ukraine all combine to create a ‘poly-crisis’ with the ideal conditions for cholera proliferation.

“Water and sanitation services as well as hygiene behaviours represent the only long-term solution for ending cholera. Whilst oral vaccines can buy time, we cannot vaccinate our way out of this pandemic.

“The key is - and always has been - the provision of clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene. Cholera is an entirely WASH-preventable disease. World leaders, governments and donors must prioritise and put sustainable, predictable investment into climate-resilient WASH services for the whole population, especially the poorest and most vulnerable groups.”


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Notes to Editors:


WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets.

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  • 771 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.
  • Almost 1.7 billion people in the world – more than one in five – do not have a decent toilet of their own.
  • Over 300,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's more than 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.
  • Investing in safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services provides up to 21 times more value than it costs.

[1] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation.

[2] WHO/UNICEF (2021) Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020. Joint Monitoring Programme. Geneva: World Health Organisation.

[3] WaterAid calculations based on: Prüss-Ustün A, et al. (2019). Burden of Disease from Inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Selected Adverse Health Outcomes: An Updated Analysis with a Focus on Low- and Middle-Income Countries. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. vol 222, no 5, pp 765-777. AND The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2020) Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.

[4] WaterAid. (2021) Mission-critical: Invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery.