Guidance Note on Community Engagement for Cholera Outbreak Response in the East and Southern Africa Region

Published on 24 April 2023

Cholera outbreaks have been on the rise in the East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR) since January 2023, with widespread and extended transmission in Malawi and Mozambique and outbreaks reported in Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and Zambia. There is risk of further spread caused by the effects of Cyclone Freddy, which hit Madagascar, Malawi, and Mozambique in March 2023. Outbreaks are continuing in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Sudan, where countries are experiencing drought after multiple failed rainy seasons.

The response context in ESAR is complex. This is due to the strained public health resources, including shortages of oral cholera vaccines, and the multiple concurrent public health and humanitarian emergencies, including the re-emergence of wild poliovirus. Community engagement in cholera outbreak responses is essential, especially while the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt in the region, particularly on trust in public health and vaccination efforts. The purpose of this guidance note is to support Ministries of Health, UNICEF, and other response partners to design and implement effective, community-centred, and data-driven community engagement for cholera outbreak response.

This guidance note was written in April 2023 by Megan Schmidt-Sane and Tabitha Hrynick (IDS), with input from Stellar Murumba (Internews), Ngonidzashe Macdonald Nyambawaro (IFRC), Eva Niederberger (Anthrologica), Santiago Ripoll (IDS), Nadine Beckmann (LSHTM), Mariana Palavra (UNICEF), and Rachel James (UNICEF). This guidance note draws on the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP)’s past work on cholera.


This publication is available in English, French and Portuguese.

Cite this publication

Schmidt-Sane, M. and Hrynick, T. (2023) Guidance Note on Community Engagement for Cholera Outbreak Response in the East and Southern Africa Region. Social Science In Humanitarian Action (SSHAP) DOI: 10.19088/SSHAP.2023.004


Megan Schmidt-Sane

Research Fellow

Tabitha Hrynick

Research Officer

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies


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