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 profile Masindi and Buvuma Town Council.
Masindi promotes proper waste management
By Geoffrey Araali Mutegeki
It is three years since Masindi Town was upgraded to municipality status. To many, this meant increased development, but also more sanitation challenges. Masindi is the biggest municipality in the country, covering 325sqkm.
According to the 2002 census, it has a population of 136,000. The area developed as a commercial centre due to trade in cotton during the pre-colonial period.
It was upgraded to a town council in 1968. The municipality comprises four divisions, but only one is urban. Central division, which is the former Masindi town council, remains the main source of revenue for the municipality.
It is also faced with many urban problems. The other three divisions — Kigulya, Karujubu and Nyagahya — sometimes fail to raise even sh500,000 as annual revenue. The municipality has a budget of sh7.2b for the 2013/2014 financial year.
Most of the money, sh6b (82%) is expected to come from the Central Government and sh1.2b from local revenue. Sh351m was allocated to health, which includes sanitation. Central division, which is charged with garbage collection, has a budget of sh1.4b Sh147m (11.7%) was allocated to health and sanitation.
The majority of the residents are involved in retail business. Supermarkets, hardware stores, banks, telecommunication and agro-processing businesses are also thriving.
There are over 15 hotels in Masindi, but none of them has a swimming pool. The municipality has six health centres, one of which is a health centre III. There is also one hospital. It has 52 primary schools, 18 secondary schools and five tertiary institutions.
Masindi town. The municipality has designated places for garbage collection. PHOTO/Geoffrey Araali Mutegeki
The majority of the youth want the municipality to plant gardens, where they can rest. They also believe the gardens will add beauty to the town. They say there are no green belts, trees or flowers.
Inadequate sanitation facilities and poor waste management are the biggest challenges to sanitation in Masindi. The municipality has designated places for garbage collection.
A collection point has been established where garbage is dumped before it is transported by wheel-barrow and bicycle to the garbage plant.
Sanitation facilities in the municipality are inadequate. There are five public toilets, all of which are found in the Central division. Upcoming towns, like Kijura, face big sanitation challenges because the slum areas are congested.
More so, although the town is connected to the national sewer line, few people have water-borne toilets. No leakages have ever been reported.
With a population of 136,000, water coverage is still low and access to clean water is wanting, basing on the fact that most residents still fetch their water from wells.
Some residents describe the current state as relatively clean, compared to how it was two years ago. Nine out of 10 residents said sanitation was improving, but still wanting.
They said they were grateful to the municipality authorities for the efforts to keep the town clean. The mayor, Joshua Amanyire, said they planned to contract a private company to take over garbage collection.
There is inadequate staff to collect and sort the garbage. According to Asiimwe, the municipal council has only one driver for the two skip loaders, compressor, tractor, grader and a wheel loader.
He added that residents do not sort their garbage, which makes work difficult. The municipality council does not have enough money for fuel to move the waste to the garbage plant, which makes proper waste management difficult.
Asiimwe also lamented about the poor usage of public toilets, which leads to blockage of the sewer pipes.
Chat with town clerk
Asiimwe said a lot still needed to be done in terms of waste disposal.
“The town might generally look clean, but many buildings are dirty inside. We will soon close dirty buildings. The municipality has also recruited sanitation scouts who arrest those found littering the town,” he said.
Asiimwe added that they planned to introduce express penalty for those found littering. He also urged residents to always sort their garbage.
Residents accused of poor waste disposal
According to a survey done by Saturday Vision, four out of 10 residents said the municipal council was solely responsible for keeping the town clean.
Officials of the municipality are accusing residents of poor waste management. Sights of men urinating in alleys or by the roadside and people littering the streets are common, despite of the fact that the places are cleaned by the municipal workers.
Masindi Town has three markets, but the main one generates most of the garbage that is collected in the town.
Patrick Asiimwe, the assistant town clerk, explains that most vendors do not dispose of garbage in a proper way.
Toilet use in Buvuma remains a luxury
By Henry Nsubuga
Buvuma Islands on Lake Victoria were elevated to district status in 2010. The district consist of the three wards — Buwanga, Walwanda and Tome.
Hillary Simbwa, the mayor, boasts that Buvuma is the only town council in Uganda that is surrounded by water and green vegetation cover.
“We have one of the best sceneries in Uganda, blessed with not only water, but also plateaux. We have the Lagula plateau in Buwanga ward, Kananyonyi plateau in Walwanda and Mbegete plateau in Tome,” he said.
Residents bathe, wash their vehicles, clothes and utensils in the lake. PHOTO/Henry Nsubuga
When Buvuma Islands became a district, politicians had big expectations. However, they now seem to be disappointed because the town faces many problems. With a population of over 7,500, the town lacks public toilets, secondary and primary schools. It is also struggling with poor disposal of garbage.
Simbwa says none of the three wards has a health centre II. However, residents have access to Buvuma health centre IV, which serves as the district hospital.
Buvuma town council lacks a physical plan, which has given residents room to build without following any order. This has resulted into the creation of more slums and camp-like structures in the town.
Low toilet coverge
“Even after three years as a town council, toilets remain a luxury in Buvuma. We could only construct one public toilet in Walwanda public market,” Simbwa said.
Charles Wandera, the Buvuma town council senior health inspector, says lack of toilets is their biggest challenge. He adds that the only public toilet in the area is filled and there are no funds to empty it.
“Our toilet coverage is less than 20%. Even where there is a toilet, people prefer using the lake or the bushes. Some have false beliefs that using a toilet can make a woman barren,” Wandera said.
He added that constructing a toilet on the islands costs up to sh20m.
Wandera explained that this was due to the fact that some places have weak soils, while others are rocky. He added that the water table is also so high, thereby making it difficult for them to construct a toilet because it could easily connect to the lake.
Water and sanitation
Wandera said residents report many cases of diarrhoea because many of them drink and use water from the lake, which is contaminated with human waste.
He also added that those who ease themselves in the bush think it is safer than going to the lake, but when it rains, the waste is washed into the lake.
Wandera explained that it is hard to discourage residents from easing themselves in the lake because they believe the lake cannot get contaminated. Many people bathe, wash cars, motor cycles, clothes and utensils in the lake, which is improper, he added.
Buvuma has gravity flow tap water, which only supplies Buwaga ward.
Wandera says the budgeting process for Buvuma town council does not consider public health and sanitation a priority. “I pray that policy makers start prioritising issues of public health and sanitation on a preventive basis. They prefer allocating more money to buying medicine to cure diarrhoea than on measures to prevent the disease,” he said.
Wandera said he had presented a budget of sh80m, but it was reduced to less than sh20m.
“I was disappointed. I had planned to construct three public toilets, buy dustbins, sensitise people and fuel the tractor for garbage collection, but without the funds, we cannot afford to do all that,” he said.
Simbwa says the town council operated on a budget of sh475m, of which only sh46m comes from local revenue. About sh150m goes towards the development budget.
“We would be collecting more local revenue if the Government had not centralised the fisheries tax. We are also fighting illegal fishing with our meagre resources. Therefore, I ask the Government to revise the policy and decentralise the tax again,” he said.
According to Simbwa, there are no dustbins in the town council.
Simbwa explained that residents individually collect their garbage and burn it. “We got a tractor from the Government to help us collect garbage, but the district diverted it for its work because we had no funds to fuel it. The tractor is now down and we have tasked the district officials to have it repaired. When we get money, we shall be able to use it to collect garbage,” said Simbwa.
There are no dustbins in Buvuma town council. PHOTO/Henry Nsubuga
Buvuma town council has recorded the worst performance in the education sector, with only three government primary schools and one secondary school.
“It has been difficult to get a pupil passing in first grade in Buvuma. However, last year, our MP Robert Migadde, was invited to a school to congratulate a pupil who had passed in second grade in the Primary Leaving Examinations,” Simbwa said.
The town council has only one public market called Walwanda Market. However, the market has many of unused stalls because most of the residents of Buvuma are involved in fishing.
Simbwa adds that the residents of Buvuma resorted to farming after the lake was emptied by fishermen due to illegal fishing.
“We produce upland rice, bananas, maize and other food crops. However, food production has led to the cutting down of forests, so as to clear land for cultivation. Charcoal burning is also done on a largescale.
Chat with residents
Lack of toilets is our biggest challenge. Local leaders recently asked us to contribute money to construct a toilet, but we have not responded. Our leaders say they do not have funds and we also cannot afford to construct toilets on our own.
Joseph Opendi of Kitamiiro village
There is poor sanitation. We lack toilets and most of the residents ease themselves in the lake and bushes. Unfortunately, some of us use the water from the lake in our homes.
Ivan Mugalu Ssuuna
We are doing badly in public health. Buvuma has no health centre II. The rocky nature of the land also makes it costly for us to construct toilets. The Government should provide us with more public toilets.
Maliten Lukoma Buliba, village council chairman
I blame the health inspectors for letting residents who do not have toilets live freely without any caution. As a village chairman, I cannot fight this alone.
Lydia Nakamyuka, vendor in Walwanda market
Poor waste disposal is a problem. We have a designated place where we should dump garbage, but vendors dump it anywhere they want without care.
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