By Francis Kagolo
In a move to improve sanitation in urban areas, Vision Group has launched a campaign to examine the state of hygiene in all towns in the country and award the cleanest.
The annual campaign kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday) under the theme “Make Uganda Clean”.
As part of the drive, New Vision and Bukedde newspapers will, starting Tuesday, publish analytical stories focusing on one town or municipality daily to cover 122 urban centres.
Vision Group local language newspapers Rupiny, Etop and Orumuri. Urban TV, Bukedde TV and other Vision Group television and radio stations will also feature reports about sanitation in towns.
The town emerging as the cleanest will receive a trophy during a gala slated for November 25, while the two runners-up will get certificates.
“Country-wide, we have observed appalling habits of garbage disposal, careless littering and insufficient availability of latrines and toilets. It is embarrassing that many Ugandans go on with their day-to-day duties oblivious of the filth that engulfs them,” Vision Group Editor-in-Chief, Barbara Kaija said.
The campaign, Kaija said, will create awareness among Ugandans to feel proud of their country and to keep it clean and green.
“We hope that by cleaning-up Uganda, our towns and country will attract tourists and more business as we all live healthier and happier lives,” she added.
Managing Editor- Editorial, David Mukholi, said a group of researchers had been dispatched to analyse the state of sanitation in the different towns.
“We are going to constitute a panel comprising of urban planning experts and other eminent persons to develop benchmarks of a clean town. They will study the research findings and choose the cleanest town and rank the rest.”
The panel will consider a number of factors, including general cleanliness of the town, availability of waste bins, public toilets, noise pollution and the state of roads.
After the successful Save Lake Victoria campaign, he said, the focus now is “to make Uganda clean; to enable town councils and municipalities to start paying attention to cleanliness and the environment.”
Bukedde Radio news editor, Ronald Ssebutiko, said reports from different towns will be broadcast daily within the station’s 8:00pm-9:00pm news hour. The station will further host town mayors, councilors and other stakeholders on its Saturday morning political talk-show Mugobansonga to discuss sanitation issues in their respective areas.
Bukedde Radio will focus on towns from the central region while Radio West, Arua One, Etop Radio and Radio Rupiny will focus on towns in their respective regions.
Urban TV, as part of the campaign, will re-launch its weekly programme Big Issue where 30-minute documentaries on urban sanitation will be aired, according to news editor Herbert Were.
At least 17% of Ugandans live in urban centres. Besides Kampala Capital city, Uganda has 27 municipalities and 174 town councils.
The law provides that for an urban area to be designated as a city, it must have at least 500,000 people, while a population of 100,000 is required for municipalities and 25,000 for town councils.
Most of Uganda’s urban centres are characterised by dusty roads, poor sanitation due to the ever mushrooming slums arising out of poor planning, according to Dr. Amin Kiggundu, a Makerere university senior lecturer of urban planning.
“A clean urban environment is a product of proper physical planning and orderly urban development,” Kiggundu told New Vision journalists during a recent briefing ahead of the campaign.
Kiggundu commended Vision Group for the initiative, saying it will awaken authorities to improve sanitation in towns.