"They came with cholera when they were tired of killing us with bullets": community perceptions of the 2010 origin of Haiti's cholera epidemic

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  • Queen's University, Kingston


In 2010 following a catastrophic earthquake, Haiti saw the beginning of what would become the world’s largest cholera epidemic. Nepalese United Nations peacekeepers were later implicated as the source of cholera. Our research examines Haitian community beliefs and perceptions, six-and-a-half years after the outbreak began, regarding the origin of Haiti’s cholera outbreak. A narrative capture tool was used to record micronarratives of Haitian participants surrounding ten United Nations bases across Haiti. Seventy-seven micronarratives focused on cholera were selected for qualitative analysis from a larger dataset. Three themes emerged: who introduced cholera to Haiti, how cholera was introduced to Haiti, and preventative measures against cholera. With varying levels of confidence, the origins of the epidemic were conceptualised as directly resulting from the actions of the United Nations and Nepalese peacekeepers, exhibiting a distrust of foreign intervention in Haiti and frustration with inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure that facilitated widespread transmission of cholera. This study reinforces the need for additional transparent communication from the UN to address ongoing misconceptions surrounding the cholera outbreak, action to clean water and sanitation practices in Haiti, and for the voices of Haitian citizens to be heard and included in reforming foreign aid delivery in the country.


Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Public Health
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Feb 2021


  • Cholera, Haiti, MINUSTAH, peacekeeping, United Nations