Uganda: Kampala Slums fighting to take over City presence

Uganda: Kampala Slums fighting to take over City presence

Kampala : Uganda | Aug 07, 2011 at 10:32 AM PDT
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KCCA sidelined in Owino re-construction

Uganda's capital city Kampala is gradually turning into a slum city. With all modern face-lifts the city is surrounded by so many slums which are fighting to take over its presence.

The city is situated 40 km north of Uganda's international airport at Entebbe on Lake Victoria with a population of 1,208,544 (2002), and believed to be the largest city in Uganda with location at 0°19'N, 32°35'E, at 1,190 m (3,900 ft) above sea level but Slums such as Bwaise, Katwe, Kisenyi, Kibuli, Katanga, Nakulabye, Naguru II, Nsambya and many others are really less developed and are all in Kampala.

But the big battle is between Kampala city council and Kisenya slums which are just near the city centre of Kampala and around 45.000 people live in this crowded slum.

Kisenyi Slum is located just 800m from the heart of the capital Kampala and also 100m from Uganda's biggest market "Owino market". But everything in the slum is under developed; roads, housing and sanitation are still very poor.

The walls of Owino market are part of Kisenyi slum and kaffumbe Mukasa road divides kampala's biggest Owino market and Kisenyi, this road is very poor and with pot holes which contain contaminated water harbouring misquotes, people , "boda-boda", and vehicles just swim through it .

Before entering Owino market, you have to cross one Nakivubo channel which carries almost all waste materials from the city and outside.

The Nakivubo Channel is a major open drainage channel that runs through the centre of the city of Kampala, in a general north-south direction.

The channel, with an overall length of about 9 km, drains approximately 95% of the water from the developed central area of the city into the swamps at the entrance to Lake Victoria. The channel is trapezoidal in cross section and its widest point has a bottom width of 4 metres, with a maximum depth of 3 metres, point sources and non-point sources such as deficient sewage and industrial wastewater plants, small-scale workshops, waste oil from parking lots and car repair garages are major sources of pollution load for the City. The sewer system in Kampala city serves only a small fraction of the city population and only 10% of all sewage generated in Kampala gets treated. Guesthouses, slum dwellings and industries discharging untreated wastewater in Nakivubo channel, which flows through the City centre contributing to lachrymal pollution load and depleted oxygen levels in the City.

After crossing Nakivubo, around the walls of the Owino market in the south, is where you find vendors trading so many kinds of fresh or perishable commodities like tomatoes, cabbages and so many others.

Reactions from Slum residents

Musisi Agnes, a market vendor at Owino market, when asked about the situation in the place, said, "the government and city council has neglected this commercial place , they don't know that this is where all people in Uganda come for business, it is a shame for the country's largest market to look like this."

Agnes added, "the major problem is that the authorities have neglected the roads around the market and in Kisenyi slum, they should find quick means of working on these roads, we have no peace here and we cannot work in such a place",she said while pointing to the Muddy pothole kaffumbe Mukasa road.

Another Ouma Gerald, a resident of Kibuli slum who came from his home district Busia in Eastern Uganda boarding Kenya, Said," i came to Kampala in 1999 and since then i have stayed here (Kibuli) but i have never seen any developmental plans in this Slum ( Kibuli), I do my business of selling Charts and Calenders in all the Slums around Kampala but people live in unhealthy conditions, it is a curse to live in this place(Kibuli)".

However, Karamojong beggars living in Kampala are also appealing for assistance from government to improve on their living conditions which they say are pathetic.

The Karamojongs who live in Katenda zone in katwe Two parish behind clock tower police post said that government has neglected them.

They say that they come to Kampala to look for what to eat but also end up going hungry.

Chairperson of Karamojong Community Development, Andrew Lomunye says he heads 40,000 Karamojong women, men, children, girls and boys some of them women are widows who need assistance for food and shelter.

He said they sleep on streets and others in slum areas in temporary structures covered with polyether materials and pay the land lords 40,000 shillings per month.

In Nsambya slums, Atukunda Joseph coordinator Heartsounds Uganda,a centre for the voice of experience-generating mental health (mental illness) and a resident of Nsambya slum since 1980s, made an alarm to the government, he said," i started this centre for mental illness to help my fellow mentally disturbed people a round the country, but the government doesn't take mental sickness as a serious matter, yet many mental people needs peer support from relatives , friends and doctors, my appeal to the government , is that , "the government should improve on infrastructures in the slums around Kampala and also offer more support to mental people".

Life in Kampala slums

"Congestion is unavoidable in Kampala slums; shanty houses are too many and extremely close to one another and most of these houses are rented out to people. Many people can afford renting only a room.

The father, mother and children may occupy a room, which may also serve as the dinning, storeroom, bedroom, among other functions. Due to the large numbers in the room, some families force some of their children to sleep under the parents bed yet in more descent homes, a simple curtain separates the "master bedroom" from the children's, which also doubles as a dining room", said Nsubuga Simon a resident in Kisenya slum.

Food prices have spiraled out of control in 2011 which even caused the opposition parties to form protests; Most people living in slums live on even less one meal a day, Sickness hovers like a ghost over the slums and pregnant women, children, the elderly suffer the most.

Due to the close proximity of the houses to each other malaria spreading mosquitoes have a field day - malaria strikes and often there is no money for treatment.

Water and Sanitation

Provision of sanitation solutions in the world's urban slums is extremely challenging due to lack of money, space, access and sense of ownership,

In these slums, overflowing pit latrine empties its contents into a worm-infested drainage channel and at least less than 10 latrines serve a population of 3,000 people living there.

This type of pit latrine is quite common in Kampala slum area. The toilet slab is simple elevated in order to protect it agains flooding which happens there regularly. The pit is over ground as groundwater table is very high.

Water in Kampala's slums costs three times more than it does in the planned areas such as Kololo and Nakasero, according to a report of Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning Management Project (KIEMP) which was disclosed at a media workshop entitled "linking urbanization and health: key emerging challenges", in Kampala, 6 April 2010, organized one day ahead of World Health Day.

"The urban areas are growing without planning. The disease burden is growing and outbreaks of cholera in Kampala occur every year," says Collins Mwesigye, an expert from the World Health Organization.

Mwesigye adds that the issues affecting urban health are beyond the health sector, pointing out public infrastructure, and local governance and income inequalities as some of the underlying causes. "We can't expect the Ministry of Health to solve the problem. We need to educate the civil society and the community on the problem so that the Government can plan better," Mwesigye says.

The problem promises to get worse before it improves. "Uganda is fast urbanizing and if you don't address urbanization problems like health, water and infrastructure you will have a catastrophe," warns Mr Urban Tibamanya, the state minister for Urban Development.

He adds that they are poor, starving and to get food they have to pick beans and maize seeds falling down when vehicles carrying them are offloading in kisenyi and owino market.

Developments in slums

In Kisenyi , there is only one large commercial building which has the standard of city structures but unfortunately some of these shops for renting are still closed, people in this area can't manage to rent them since they deal in small scale businesses, just a few are occupied by large scale businesses like banks etc.

Apart from Kisenyi slum, however, Tax parks near this slum are also in a very poor condition, recently, Kampala Capital City Authority Executive Director, Jennifer Semakula, described the two main city taxi parks as regretful, calling for their immediate reconstruction and not mere repairs.

She said KCCA will review plans to repair the new and old parks in the central business district to lift it to the required standards.

"I have observed that the parks are beyond repair, deserve immediate attention and therefore the Authority will soon sit to revise the decision taken earlier," Ms Musisi said, during her tour of the two city taxi parks.

"The parks are not different from roads in down town areas that also need urgent attention," she said.

She was, however, quick to add that the reconstruction is not an immediate issue because it involves going through stages of procurement.

Kampala is both the administrative and commercial capital city of Uganda situated on about 24 low hills that are surrounded by wetland valleys, characterized by an imprint of scattered unplanned settlements.

The emergency of slums in Kampala City has been gradual and sustained over a long period of time which has attributed to the failure of Kampala Structure Plans to cater for the growth and developments.


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Kibul slums
kibuli slums housing
NANGAYI GUYSON is based in Kampala, Central, Uganda, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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