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Zimbabwe Farm Invasions Exacerbate Cholera Epidemic in Rural Areas

The cholera epidemic that has ravaged Zimbabwe since late last year is slowing significantly, a report issued by the World Health Organization says.

A weekly situation report dated March 20 said 2,076 new cases of cholera were reported in the week ending March 14, compared with 3,800 cases in the previous reporting week and some 8,000 new cases on a weekly basis in early February.

The WHO said new cases have declined in all areas of the country except Harare, the capital, where a recent disruption of public water supplies led to a resurgence.

Despite this generally encouraging trend, the union representing farm workers said a wave of takeovers of white-owned commercial farms has exacerbated the epidemic in areas affected by the latest phase of the land-reform program launched in 2000.

Spokesman Tapiwa Ziviri of the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe says that Chegutu in Mashonaland West province has been seriously affected in this way, as has Mashonaland East province.

Ziviri told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that cholera spreads on many farms because sanitation is poor and farm workers lack access to health care.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...