Cholera outbreak in Zambia: An institutional perspective

Policy brief State

  • Since October 2017, Zambia has been battling a severe cholera epidemic that has resulted in more than 81 deaths nationwide. The government’s immediate response was swift, and although the crisis is now seemingly under control, it is currently important that policymakers prioritise water and sanitation provision to prevent future outbreaks.
  • In addition to the very high human toll of the outbreak, the impact of cholera can also be measured in direct and indirect economic costs – for example, studies suggest that outbreaks can cost countries up to 2% of GDP.
  • This brief looks at the recent history of cholera outbreaks in Zambia and how policymakers can develop policies and attract investment aimed at improving the infrastructure needed to reduce cases of this disease.
  • The author suggests that the most recent crisis opens a policy window for making fundamental reforms in the water and sanitation sector to tackle the institutional problems that are the root cause of the persistent cholera outbreaks in Zambia.