Until October 31, New Vision will devote space to highlight the plight of slum dwellers as well as profiling those offering selfless service to improve conditions in these areas.
Until October 31, New Vision will devote space to highlight the plight of slum dwellers as well as profiling those offering selfless service to improve conditions in these areas. Today, CAROLINE ARIBA brings you the story of how singer Bobi Wine has improved the lives of residents in Kamwokya Kisenyi II by building pit-latrines and constructing drainage channels in the area
Sarah Naluyima lived in constant fear of her children drowning. There was a dangerous stream that ran through Kisenyi II slum in Kamwokya. It had killed many children and so Naluyima never settled whenever she was away from home.
Her greatest fear was receiving a call announcing that one of her children had drowned. “Whenever they would say a child had drowned, I would immediately worry that it was mine,” Naluyima recollects.
“As a result, I resorted to keeping my children at school until late. Today, all that fear is over. My children can now play freely, thanks to Bobi Wine, who opened up this trench,” says the mother of six.
Of the 3.2 million urban dwellers, between 1.6 and two million live in slums. Like many slums in Uganda, Kisenyi II is in a wetland. It is characterised by filth, crowded shanty structures, poor sanitation and lack of basic social facilities.
The majority of the residents are poor. Malaria cases abound as a result of the poor drainage. Most households lack toilets yet they cannot afford sh200 to access the few private toilets availble.
As such many would defecate in polythene bags and toss the waste into the channel. But things have since changed in this slum of 4,000 residents, thanks to musician Bobi Wine whose real name is Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi.
As part of his contribution to the community that raised him up, Bobi Wine is widening the killer drainage channel, in a project he says will take up to sh75m.
He believes this will not only solve the flooding problem, but also reduce malaria cases. He is also constructing pit-latrines to improve the sanitation situation and setting up a garbage collection point.
“I am doing this because these are my people and no matter where I go, this will always be home,” says Bobi Wine.
Beneficiaries speak out
Jackson Twine, whose house had borne the brunt of flooding, cannot thank Bobi Wine enough. “My house would always get flooded whenever the drainage channel would get blocked. But this has changed ever since the drainage was worked on.
Marcus Talemwa, whose shop is right next to the garbage collection point, is disappointed that despite Bobi Wine’s effort, Kampala Capital City Authoritsy (KCCA) takes long to ferry away the garbage.
Talemwa’s neighbour Harriet Nabulime praises musician for building the pit-latrine. “My family would use polythene bags and we would pay for one person to go into the toilet and dispose of them. But all these has changed. I think he was sent by God,” she says.
Born in Mpigi district on Febuary 12, 1982, Bobi Wine grew up in Kisenyi II slum, a place he now holds dear. In his early days, he witnessed some children drown in the trench that traverses the slum. Cases of malaria, he says, were also high among the children. Some would die simply because of poor drainage and sanitation.
“When I made some money, I thought it best to help my people in the dangala (ghetto),” Bobi Wine says. His dream has come true. He has not only helped with the drainage systems, garbage collection and pit-latrines but he has also composed, songs encouraging people to maintain good hygiene, a cause he is so passionate about.
The area LC1 chairperson, Fred Nyanzi, blames KCCA for the delays in garbage collection. He says KCCA officials are only sighted when collecting taxes while politicians only come during election campaigns.
“I am humbled by what Bobi is doing to the community,” Nyanzi says. “I do not know what would happen if men like him were not in Kisenyi, a slum that has been abandoned by the Kampala City Council Authority,” he observes.
However, KCCA spokesperson Peter Kauju insists that no slum has been abandoned, but the conditions have made it hard for the slums to benefit from KCCA sanitation projects.
“These areas are densely populated; therefore, they gather more garbage than any other places,” Kauju says. He urges the public to be patient.
Bobi giving back to the hands that lifted him up