Cholera is generally regarded as the prototypical waterborne and environmental disease. In Africa, available studies are scarce, and the relevance of this disease paradigm is questionable. Cholera outbreaks have been repeatedly reported far from the coasts: from 2009 through 2011, three-quarters of all cholera cases in Africa occurred in inland regions. Such outbreaks are either influenced by rainfall and subsequent floods or by drought- and water-induced stress.

Their concurrence with global climatic events has also been observed. In lakes and rivers, aquatic reservoirs of Vibrio cholerae have been evocated. However, the role of these reservoirs in cholera epidemiology has not been established. Starting from inland cholera-endemic areas, epidemics burst and spread to various environments, including crowded slums and refugee camps. Human displacements constitute a major determinant of this spread.