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Extreme weather. A lack of lifesaving vaccines. Africa's cholera crisis is worse than ever

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Extreme weather. A lack of lifesaving vaccines. Africa's cholera crisis is worse than ever
News

News

Extreme weather. A lack of lifesaving vaccines. Africa's cholera crisis is worse than ever

2024-05-24 13:22 Last Updated At:13:31

LILANDA, Zambia (AP) — Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera.

In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021.

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Children survivors of cholera play on a gate on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, Saturday, March 2, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

LILANDA, Zambia (AP) — Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera.

Street vendors sell phone cards under a billboard urging people to protect themselves from Cholera in Lusaka, Zambia, Sunday March, 10 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Street vendors sell phone cards under a billboard urging people to protect themselves from Cholera in Lusaka, Zambia, Sunday March, 10 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Hospital beds stand empty in a ward dedicated to Cholera patients at a government hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Hospital beds stand empty in a ward dedicated to Cholera patients at a government hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A nurse exits from a cholera treatment centre in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A nurse exits from a cholera treatment centre in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A young girl fetches water from a well in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A young girl fetches water from a well in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children fetch water using a wheelbarrow in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children fetch water using a wheelbarrow in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children play near stagnant pools of water in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children play near stagnant pools of water in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A picture of Mildred Bandas daughter, survivor of a cholera outbreak, is seen inside their family home in Lilanda, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A picture of Mildred Bandas daughter, survivor of a cholera outbreak, is seen inside their family home in Lilanda, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Mildred Banda holds a phone showing a picture of her one-year-old son who died of Cholera in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March, 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Mildred Banda holds a phone showing a picture of her one-year-old son who died of Cholera in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March, 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

FILE - Floodwaters are visible in Ombaka Village, Kisumu, Kenya, April 17, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Ongoro, File)

FILE - Floodwaters are visible in Ombaka Village, Kisumu, Kenya, April 17, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Ongoro, File)

FILE - People gather on a bridge after floodwater washed away houses near Nakuru, Kenya, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, file)

FILE - People gather on a bridge after floodwater washed away houses near Nakuru, Kenya, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, file)

FILE - A family uses a boat after fleeing floodwaters that wreaked havoc in the Githurai area of Nairobi, Kenya, April 24, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi, File)

FILE - A family uses a boat after fleeing floodwaters that wreaked havoc in the Githurai area of Nairobi, Kenya, April 24, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi, File)

Malawi and Zambia have had their worst outbreaks on record. Zimbabwe has had multiple waves. Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia also have been badly affected.

All have experienced floods or drought — in some cases, both — and health authorities, scientists and aid agencies say the unprecedented surge of the water-borne bacterial infection in Africa is the newest example of how extreme weather is playing a role in driving disease outbreaks.

“The outbreaks are getting much larger because the extreme climate events are getting much more common," said Tulio de Oliveira, a South Africa-based scientist who studies diseases in the developing world.

De Oliveira, who led a team that identified new coronavirus variants during the COVID-19 pandemic, said southern Africa's latest outbreaks can be traced to the cyclones and floods that hit Malawi in late 2021 and early 2022, carrying the cholera bacteria to areas it doesn't normally reach.

Zimbabwe and Zambia have seen cases rise as they wrestle with severe droughts and people rely on less safe sources of water in their desperation like boreholes, shallow wells and rivers, which can all be contaminated. Days after the deadly flooding in Kenya and other parts of East Africa this month, cholera cases appeared.

The World Health Organization calls cholera a disease of poverty, as it thrives where there is poor sanitation and a lack of clean water. Africa has had eight times as many deaths this year as the Middle East, the second-most affected region.

Historically vulnerable, Africa is even more at risk as it faces the worst impacts of climate change as well as the effect of the El Niño weather phenomenon, health experts say.

In what's become a perfect storm, there's also a global shortage of cholera vaccines, which are needed only in poorer countries.

“It doesn’t affect countries with resources,” said Dr. Daniela Garone, the international medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF. “So, it doesn’t bring the resources.”

Billions of dollars have been invested into other diseases that predominantly affect the world's most vulnerable, like polio and tuberculosis, largely because those diseases are highly contagious and could cause outbreaks even in rich countries. But that's not the case with cholera, where epidemics remain contained.

WHO said this month there is a “critical shortage” of oral cholera vaccines in the global stockpile. Since the start of 2023, 15 countries — the desperate few — have requested a total of 82 million doses to deal with deadly outbreaks while only 46 million doses were available.

There are just 3.2 million doses left, below the target of having at least 5 million in reserve. While there are currently cholera epidemics in the Middle East, the Americas and Southeast Asia, Africa is by far the worst-affected region.

Vaccines alliance GAVI and UNICEF said last month that the approval of a new cholera vaccine would boost stocks. But the result of the shortage has already been measured in deaths.

Lilanda, a township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hot spot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is like gold dust. Here, over two awful days in January, Mildred Banda saw her 1-year-old son die from cholera and rushed to save the life of her teenage daughter.

Cholera shouldn't be killing anyone. The disease is easily treated and easily prevented — and the vaccines are relatively simple to produce.

That didn't help Banda's son, Ndanji.

When he fell sick with diarrhea, he was treated with an oral rehydration solution at a clinic and released. He slipped back into dehydration that night at home. Banda feels terrible guilt.

“I should have noticed earlier that my son was not feeling well,” she said, sitting in her tiny concrete house. “I should have acted faster and taken him back to the clinic. I should have taken him back to save his life.”

Because of the vaccine shortage, Zambia couldn’t undertake a preventative vaccination campaign after neighboring Malawi's outbreak. That should have been a warning call, said de Oliveira. Zambia only made an emergency request when its cases started mounting.

The doses that might have saved Ndanji started arriving in mid-January. He died on Jan. 6.

In Zimbabwe, a drought worsened by El Niño has seen cholera take hold in distant rural areas as well as its traditional hot spots of crowded urban neighborhoods.

Abi Kebra Belaye, MSF representative for Zimbabwe, said the southern African nation normally has around 17 hard-hit areas, mostly urban. This year, cholera spread to 62 districts as the struggle to find water heightened the risk.

“This part of Africa is paying the highest price of climate change,” Kebra Belaye said.

Augustine Chonyera, who hails from a cholera-prone part of the capital, Harare, was shocked when he recently visited the sparsely populated rural district of Buhera.

He said he heard grim tales of the impact of the disease: a family losing five members, a husband and wife dying within hours of each other and local businesses using delivery trucks to take the sick to a clinic several kilometers (miles) away.

“It seems now the people in rural areas are in more danger than us. I still wonder how it happened,” Chonyera said.

He said he returned home as soon as he could — after giving a large bottle of treated water he had brought with him to an elderly woman.

Mutsaka reported from Harare, Zimbabwe. Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa.

The Associated Press receives financial support for global health and development coverage in Africa from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.

Children survivors of cholera play on a gate on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, Saturday, March 2, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children survivors of cholera play on a gate on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, Saturday, March 2, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Street vendors sell phone cards under a billboard urging people to protect themselves from Cholera in Lusaka, Zambia, Sunday March, 10 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Street vendors sell phone cards under a billboard urging people to protect themselves from Cholera in Lusaka, Zambia, Sunday March, 10 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Hospital beds stand empty in a ward dedicated to Cholera patients at a government hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Hospital beds stand empty in a ward dedicated to Cholera patients at a government hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A nurse exits from a cholera treatment centre in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A nurse exits from a cholera treatment centre in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A young girl fetches water from a well in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A young girl fetches water from a well in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children fetch water using a wheelbarrow in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children fetch water using a wheelbarrow in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children play near stagnant pools of water in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Children play near stagnant pools of water in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A picture of Mildred Bandas daughter, survivor of a cholera outbreak, is seen inside their family home in Lilanda, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A picture of Mildred Bandas daughter, survivor of a cholera outbreak, is seen inside their family home in Lilanda, Zambia, Saturday, March 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Mildred Banda holds a phone showing a picture of her one-year-old son who died of Cholera in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March, 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Mildred Banda holds a phone showing a picture of her one-year-old son who died of Cholera in Lilanda township in Lusaka, Zambia, Saturday, March, 9, 2024. Lilanda, an impoverished township on the edge of the Zambian capital of Lusaka, is a typical cholera hotspot. Stagnant pools of water dot the dirt roads. Clean water is gold dust. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of famine and displacement, and leaving another deadly threat in their aftermath: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

FILE - Floodwaters are visible in Ombaka Village, Kisumu, Kenya, April 17, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Ongoro, File)

FILE - Floodwaters are visible in Ombaka Village, Kisumu, Kenya, April 17, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Ongoro, File)

FILE - People gather on a bridge after floodwater washed away houses near Nakuru, Kenya, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, file)

FILE - People gather on a bridge after floodwater washed away houses near Nakuru, Kenya, Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, file)

FILE - A family uses a boat after fleeing floodwaters that wreaked havoc in the Githurai area of Nairobi, Kenya, April 24, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi, File)

FILE - A family uses a boat after fleeing floodwaters that wreaked havoc in the Githurai area of Nairobi, Kenya, April 24, 2024. Extreme weather events have hit parts of Africa relentlessly in the last three years, with tropical storms, floods and drought causing crises of hunger and displacement. They leave another deadly threat behind them: some of the continent's worst outbreaks of cholera. In southern and East Africa, more than 6,000 people have died and nearly 350,000 cases have been reported since a series of cholera outbreaks began in late 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Ngugi, File)

DALLAS (AP) — Nick Saban is at SEC Media Days again, six months after retiring as Alabama coach.

This time he's asking the questions as part of ESPN's SEC Network coverage of the four-day event.

“I’m still a coach at heart. So I want to ask the coaches questions so that they can actually talk about things that they want to talk about, and maybe things that they want to be able to get out there,” Saban said Wednesday, a short time before his successor, Kalen DeBoer, made his SEC Media days debut as Tide coach.

“So I’m not trying to put anybody on the defensive,” Saban added. “I’m trying to help them express what they’d like to express about their team, or about a particular player, or about a position on their team.”

Saban, 72, retired in January after 17 seasons with Alabama and three decades as a head coach. The seven-time national champion will work for ESPN this season on its “College GameDay” Saturday pregame show.

He said he doesn't plan to be critical as a broadcaster.

“I want to be objective. But I don’t want to be controversial,” Saban said. “You could take any decision in any situation that anybody makes and make it controversial. Like, if we go for it on fourth-and-3, we would have 100,000 people in Alabama say, ‘I’m glad he’s going for it.’ And we would have 100,000 people say, ‘He’s a dumbass for going for it.’”

Saban has already made a headline, picking Georgia and Texas, not the Crimson Tide, to play for the SEC championship.

His former players noticed.

"He always said don’t let some guy who lives in his mom’s basement determine how you feel. I’m not going to let a guy who plays golf all day determine how I feel,” offensive tackle Tyler Booker said with a smile.

Saban said he has poured himself into the new job much as if he was still a coach. He prepared “a couple hundred hours” for his role on ESPN's NFL draft coverage. For SEC Media Days, he said he watched every team's spring game and called every coach in the conference.

“The biggest thing I miss is the relationships with the people, the players, the coaches, the staff and all the people that you work with, being a part of a team," Saban said. “That I miss. But, I also got to the point where it was difficult for me to sustain things the way I needed to sustain them, to be satisfied with myself that I was doing a good job. So the last year was hard. So, I said, maybe it’s time for somebody else. I don’t regret that.”

Saban was asked if major college football could ever install a commissioner, would be he interested in the job. He said that's a question for his wife, Terry.

“I try to go play golf at 7:30 in the morning. So I get home at 11:30,” he said. “I can’t get to the ninth hole without getting a text of ‘This is what I want you to do when you come home.’

“At least let me finish my round. It's not going to get done any faster.”

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

Former Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, left, and current Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer greet each other after appearing on the set of ESPN's SEC Now during the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days Wednesday, July 17, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Former Alabama head football coach Nick Saban, left, and current Alabama coach Kalen DeBoer greet each other after appearing on the set of ESPN's SEC Now during the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days Wednesday, July 17, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

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