The International Rescue Committee is responding to a deadly outbreak of cholera in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, situated in northern Kenya near the Somalian border.

Since November, more than 347 people including children have been infected with the highly contagious disease. With the onset of the rainy season, the IRC is concerned the epidemic could continue to spread, making already poor living conditions even worse.

Dadaab is home to some 330,000 Somalian refugees who have fled from extreme drought and civil war. IRC medical staff members have been treating cases of cholera in Hagadera and Kambioos, part of the sprawling camp complex.

40-year-old Amina Mukhta, a mother of four, woke up to stomach pains, vomiting and severe diarrhea. With the help of her son, she was rushed to an IRC-run cholera treatment center in Hagadera, where she received rehydration treatment and antibiotics for her fluid loss. Within a day, Amina regained her strength and was able to return home free of cholera.

“I came here paralyzed and I can’t imagine that I have the energy to walk today. Yesterday was full of pain and my son had to help me take the drugs as I couldn't hold anything,” she said.

Cholera causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting and can result in dehydration and death within hours if not detected and treated quickly. It is commonly spread through polluted water sources and contaminated food.

To help ensure the disease doesn’t spread, IRC community health workers are educating residents on proper hygiene and sanitation routines such as thoroughly washing hands with soap and clean water. In addition, the IRC ramped up its medical staff at the cholera treatment center. Along with partners, we have distributed soap to the community and ensured all the water is chlorinated.

The IRC's work in Kenya

The IRC has been working in Kenya since 1992, providing essential health and nutrition services in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps to tens of thousands of refugees escaping conflict and natural disaster in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and other neighbouring countries. We also provide support and care to women and girls who are victims of violence.