In the Make Uganda Clean campaign, Vision Group is profiling major urban centres in the country, highlighting their sanitation, culminating into a gala night on November 25, where the cleanest towns will be recognized. Today we bring you profiles of Kyotera and Kitgum towns.
Kyotera unplanned but striving to be clean By Stephen Ssenkaaba & Dismus Buregyeya
Once upon a time, Kyotera town was a sick, dirty, unkempt town. The town—one of the first to be ravaged by the HIV/AIDS scourge in the early 1980s lacked a master plan and a dumping site.
Residents relied on untreated water from contaminated sources to survive. Neither did they have a sewage management system. This town has made giant strides over a couple of years.
Garbage is collected daily from the skips. PHOTO/Dismus Buregyeya
Today, the town boasts of an improved safe and clean water supply system worth $1.2m (about sh3b) with the support of the United Nations’ Habitat. Initially the town relied on a low-capacity water supply system from the Church of Uganda.
Today, through local and external support, the town has constructed two public toilets at a cost of sh24m each. For a population of 20,000, this means one toilet for every 1,800 people. Perhaps not very sufficient, but certainly better than before when the town hardly had public toilets.
Francis Ssebaduka, the Kyotera community development officer said, Centenary Bank donated dustbins, which have been strategically placed in the business area. Henry Kigoye, a local town councilor, offered his land in Kyampagi and Kabaseke to serve as a garbage dumping site.
UN Habitat donated four tractors for the management of solid waste and collection of garbage.
Today, Kyotera is among the towns in East Africa, which are rapidly growing as observed recently by Senior UN Habitat Consultant Jossy Matero. Little wonder the town was selected to benefit from the multi-billion UN Habitat funded urban planning water and sanitation project of 2008 to 2011.
A recent Vision Group survey indicates that even though this town still faces major cleanliness issues, it is trying to stay clean and decent. The survey indicates that while dustbins in Kyotera town are insufficient, the few available ones are clean, earning the town an average 5.3/10 score.
Many people reported to finding difficulty in tracing dustbins. The divided opinions indicate an uneven distribution of dustbins in the town. It is for the absence of dustbins in some parts of the town that littering continues there.
About 86% of respondents said they had ever seen someone litter the town in the past three months. On the overall, however, 68% of our respondents consider Kyotera town clean. There is more cooperation from the local residents to keep the town clean as 49% of our respondents reported to have avoided littering and 29% have participated in cleaning the town.
According to our survey, the town has 20 garbage skips within half a kilometer from each other and garbage is collected every day. There also is a garbage fill that is about 1km from the town centre and is managed by the authority.
Broken sewers remain a challenge in this town. Indeed, 24% of our respondents claim to have seen sewage bursts in Kyotera. These reported that whenever there was a sewage burst, the response towards fixing them is slow, earning a 1.2/10 score.
Only 16% said they had ever seen open soak pits/manholes in the town and of these, 33% of the respondents reported that the manholes had been open for at least six months. Eighty-eight percent of our respondents confirm that public toilets are clean, leading to above average score.
At a sh154 cost, one can access these places of convenience. On animals, 80% of our respondents claim to have seen livestock/poultry moving about town in the past six months.
Reports indicate significant progress towards maintaining of green spaces in Kyotera town that even though 40% of our respondents claim to have seen overgrown grass there, they also indicate commendable efforts by the town authorities to maintain this grass earning a 5.9/10 score.
According to information from human resource officer, 60% of Kyotera town residents have access to piped water. Other sources of water include: boreholes, rain water and shallow wells. Human waste is managed through the pit latrines and septic tanks.
Kyotera’s streets are swept every day. PHOTO/Dismus Buregyeya
There is one market with garbage skips owned by the town council. There are about 140 market stalls. For a town of an estimated 20,000 population, this portends a fair distribution. However, Kyotera still lacks a town planner. It has only one health inspector, two engineers, no lands officer, no education officer and no environmental officer.
Kyotera town council recently approved budget of sh1.19b for the financial year 2013/14. About sh70m has been allocated to public health and sanitation.
The district and town council leaders led by the mayor, Rashid Ssenyonga, passed a resolution to have Kyotera town elevated to a municipality status. There is a plan to buy a dumping site of not less than five acres.
The town launched a beautification project where flowers and trees are planted. There is a bylaw which deals with those who litter the town including those who ease themselves in prohibited places. The town council has tendered out the daily sweeping of the streets.
Community dev't officer's view
Running the water supply system is expensive as it takes about 100 litres of diesel to pump water. Francis Ssebaduka said the town council leadership is afraid that the standby generator at the water supply facility, which works for 24 hours daily, is over used and may break down soon.
Kitgum waking up from her filthy slumber By Agnes Kyotalengerire & Wokorach Obol
Bushy roundabouts, garbage heaps, littered streets, roads with tarmac patches and trenches choking on garbage meet the eye once you set foot in Kitgum town.
Some of the incomplete buildings along Uhuru Drive have been turned into gardens of simsim (sesame). But amidst all this, life seems normal, with a beehive of activity alongside the garbage heaps, and, as night falls, darkness takes charge.
At the time of our visit, the residents confessed they had not had electricity for a week. But even the presence of electricity does not make much difference. The town remains dark because the street lights are non-functional. It is only a few generators from popular night clubs that partially light the town.
Residents cleaning up the streets during the launch of Keep Kitgum Clean campaign. PHOTO/Agnes Kyotalengerire
A few tarmac patches comfortably sit where the tarmac roads, built in 1985 under the Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Programme, used to sit.
In a survey by Vision Group, involving 15 respondents, the town comes out as dirty. Although the town has a cleaning schedule for roads, market areas and dustbins, the respondents expressed utter dissatisfaction with the cleanliness of the town, scoring 1.5/10.
Additionally, the score for market area is 0.9/10, streets/roads 1.8/10 and wastebins/dust bins 0.9/10, meaning that more needs to be done. On the rubbish aspect, the survey shows the town is struggling. A small percentage (7%) of the respondents acknowledged having seen dustbins in the town.
On the other hand, slightly more than half (53%) say they have seen someone litter the streets with rubbish in the past three months, meaning that littering is a common habit in the town.
To improve on the level of cleanliness, 40% reported they personally avoid littering and 60% had done nothing to improve the cleanliness of Kitgum. The town council leaders need to sensitize residents about sanitation and hygiene practices.
Although the town majorly depends on the national power grid as a source of lighting and only 14% use generators, all respondents said they had ever seen street lights in a working condition. This is evidence that the town lacks street lights, making it unsafe at night.
On the aspect of potholes, the survey reveals the bigger part (9.4/10) of the town is full of potholes and almost all roads (80%) are murrum, with a small portion of about 20% leveled.
Although most town dwellers (60%) rely on piped water for both domestic and business activities and only 27% use boreholes, the survey revealed that piped water is irregular, scoring 3.5/10.
The water is however, relatively clean, with a score of 5.9/10. This implies that there is need to work on the water and sewage system of the town. According to the survey, Kitgum town is noisy and lacks a noise control programme.
The noise is caused by prayers, traders bars/night clubs, taxi conductors/drivers and boda boda riders. According to the study, animals loiter in town. All respondents acknowledged having seen animals loiter in town.
The central sewerage system is non- functional. Most respondents in the survey said they had never seen sewerr bursts because there is no sewarage system. Although all respondents were aware of the existence of public toilets in the town, the public toilets are reportedly very dirty, scoring 3.3/10.
The drainage channels are filled with garbage. PHOTO/Agnes Kyotalengerire
The average cost of accessing a public toilet is sh180. Kitgum town is bushy with very poor grass maintenance levels scoring 1.0/10. This creates a breeding ground for snakes and mosquitoes, putting the health of the residents at risk.
On the contrary, the crime rate in Kitgum is low, only 7% of the respondents said they had ever been subjected to a form of crime. Though minimal, the common forms of crime include robbery with no violence, assault, burglary of stock items and carjacking.
The mayor says the challenge is inadequate funds yet one garbage truck costs sh150m. In addition, the town lacks the capacity to build roads.
“A kilometre of tarmac costs more than sh300m. We only open and maintain murram roads,” he explains.
Michael Wokorach, the acting town clerk, says managing garbage is not easy as it is generated everyday yet there are only 22 porters to collect about 70 tonnes.
Wakorach says the biggest problem is the residents’ poor attitude towards good sanitation and hygiene. Adding that they have earmarked over sh63.9m has been set aside to address public health issues in the council this new financial year.
This is 3.9% of the town’s budget of over sh1.5b this financial year. The central government has contributed over sh998.4m of the budget.
Okwera says they raised sh4m from local revenue (taxes) which they allocated to activities such as garbage management, payment of hired staff, allowances for council/committee meetings, fuel and general council operations.
But, he says, it is not easy to manage garbage with a huge population of over 75,000 people. “We need support from the Government; our urgent need is a garbage truck and skips,” he says.
Okwera says poor sanitation and hygiene in Kitgum town council is a clear indicator of the high population. The town sits on 35 square kilometres, presenting a chance for expansion. Kitgum is one of the oldest town councils in Uganda, having attained that status in 1971.
Wholesale and retail trading are the major economic activities. The district’s location at the South Sudan border gives the residents an opportunity to engage in export trade.
Wokorach said some alleys in the town are littered with human faeces. What is popularly referred to as ‘flying toilet’ is also a common practice in the town.
He says less than 100 homes in the town have flash toilets. The majority of the residents are still relying on latrines, which are not permitted in the town area.
The authorities intend to acquire nine garbage skips and dustbins which will be positioned on strategic points on the streets. All business people will be required to have garbage bins in front of their premises.
Defaulters will risk having their trading licenses revoked. Through AMREF Uganda, they plan to construct nine water borne toilets in nine primary schools in the town council and two at Boma ground.
Last Saturday Kitgum Town Council launched the “Keep Kitgum Clean” campaign. The clean-up exercise will be carried out every last Saturday of the month.
There is daily inspection of the central business district by the health inspectors. Garbage is collected daily by the garbage collection team. A team of 20 women sweeps the streets daily.
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