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Malaba: Where a dustbin is a luxury

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th October 2013 04:09 PM

In the Make Uganda Clean campaign, Vision Group is profiling major urban centres in the country, highlighting their sanitation situation, culminating into a gala night on November 25, where the cleanest towns will be recognized. Today, we bring you profiles of Malaba and Luwero

Malaba:  Where a  dustbin is  a luxury

In the Make Uganda Clean campaign, Vision Group is profiling major urban centres in the country, highlighting their sanitation situation, culminating into a gala night on November 25, where the cleanest towns will be recognized. Today, we bring you profiles of Malaba and Luwero

trueIn the Make Uganda Clean campaign, Vision Group is profiling major urban centres in the country, highlighting their sanitation situation, culminating into a gala night on November 25, where the cleanest towns will be recognized. Today, we bring you profiles of Malaba and Luwero


Every Ugandan knows something about Malaba town. Being the main entry route at the Uganda-Kenya eastern border, Malaba is famous
for handling huge volumes of cargo and trucks passing through the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) customs yard, which is just 50 metres away. But behind this ‘shiny’ curtain lies filth and garbage. A huge volume of dust, polythene bags and heaps of uncollected garbage are what welcome you to this border town.

The town has no designated places for dumping garbage, lacks garbage skips and litter bins, giving the residents an opportunity to dump garbage all over the place. In a survey conducted by Vision Group, 90% of the respondents stated they had never seen a dustbin
in the town and 93% disclosed that they had ever seen someone litter rubbish in the town in the previous three months. Overall, Malaba Town Council was rated as being polluted (67%). To improve on the level of cleanliness, 66.7% reported they personally avoid littering and 33% have done nothing.

In the survey, the residents said they are completely unsatisfied with the cleanliness of the market area streets/roads and villages such as Obore, Malaba ‘A’ north, -alaba ‘B’ east and Malaba ‘A’ south. All these have ‘flying toilets’ (faeces in a polythene bags) littered along the roads and bushy plots.According to the survey, while 93% of the respondents said they were aware of the existence of public toilets in Malaba Town Council, 13% said the bush/field/street/corridors were often used by the majority of the town dwellers. The public toilets were found to be very dirty and the average cost of accessing them was sh191.

Sunday Vision has established that the town has three public toilets with one, which is poorly maintained located near St Jude catholic Church


The town, dominated by grass thatched houses, usually becomes water logged during the rainy season, forcing pit latrines to overflow and some houses to collapse.

The survey also revealed that sewage was a big problem in the town. Whenever there was a sewage burst, the response towards fixing it was very slow. An informant told Sunday Visionthat there was no sewer system in the whole town.

Some of the land landlords release raw human waste from their septic tanks when it is raining to be washed away by the floods. The drainage channel along Koitangiro road is choked with polythene bags and many of the roads have been eroded by the floods making them completely impassable.
The town also does not have a system to no manage the noise generated by the trailers, buses, trucks and loud music from the bars and the Pentecostal Churches.


Bushy Kwapa road side in Malaba town. Most road sides are untended


The grass maintenance levels were rated as very low at 73% of the respondents had noticed overgrown grass in the town council. The bushy plots harbour snakes and have been turned into grazing grounds. About 67% of the respondents had seen livestock and poultry loitering in Malaba Town Council in the past six months. The animals seen include goats, hens, cows, pigs and ducks.


Started in the 1950’s as a check point, Malaba steadily grew up into a small trading centre before being elevated into a parish in the late 1990s and later a town council in 2005.

The town is in a low-lying swamp. The area is estimated population of 40,000 people during day time and 20,000 people at night time.
The town passed a budget of sh2,081,394,072 for the financial year 2013/2014. About 48% of this funding is expected to be generated
through local revenue. Out of this money, sh110,500,000 has been allocated for primary health care (PHC) and the general cleanliness of the town.

The principal health inspector, Wilberforce Wendo says due to high costs of installing flush toilets, the town has 74% pit latrine coverage. Wendo says the main sources of water are ponds, bore holes and rivers which account for over 80% coverage. Only about 20% of the population have access to piped water.

Wendo says they have mobilised the community and the private sector to partner with them in the “Keep Malaba town clean’ campaign, a clean-up exercise conducted every last Thursday of the month. He, however, notes that littering is still a problem as it boils down to the attitude of the people.

“Charity begins at home. We are going to have laws enforced and will fine anyone littering the streets. Or we shall have them prosecuted in the courts of law,” he says. The deputy mayor, Leonard Mawombo, says the executive has intensified efforts to promote
hygiene in their town.

“We want to reduce on funds used by the technocrats and prioritise the garbage collection and other PHC issues. We are also trying to
look for other sources of income rather than depend on the central government. At the same time, we have to continue with community
sensitisation,” Mawombo says.


  • Garbage in the town should be collected once every day.
  • Local people should be involved in garbage collection and garbage sorted at household level.
  • The council needs to be more vigilant, provide dust bins at every corner and supervise hygiene. Right now, there is one town planner, two health inspectors, one engineer, no lands officer, no education officer and no environmental officer.

 Roaming animals threaten the otherwise clean, quiet Luwero


Luwero evokes memories of the 1981-86 bush war. It is where much of the fighting took place. Located 64km from Kampala on the Kampala-Gulu highway, Luwero has a semi urban setting. Developed plots exist side by side with small gardens of maize, cassava and banana plantains. These give it a fresh look, a far cry for Kampala.

Luwero is situated on land allocated to the Buganda treasury by the old Buganda kingdom. The successive Buganda treasurers developed this land, notably Zakaria Kisingiri, who established his administrative headquarters here.
In 1901, Kisingiri constructed the first iron roofed church in Luwero which still stands today, albeit with some modifications. Kisingiri’s church became a hub for development of schools and other social institutions.

Buganda kingdom later constructed a road from Kampala that reached Luwero in 1909. It is the same road that later developed into the present day Kampala - Gulu highway.

In 1973, when the then North Buganda Province was divided into Kyaggwe and Bulemeezi districts, Luwero became the headquarters of the latter. Following the 1974 decree that automatically bestowed township status on all trading centres which house district headquarters, Luwero became a town board. In 1989, it became a town council. Since then, the town has continuously grown in terms of population, budget and size. This financial year’s budget stands at sh1.2b. Luwero has a population estimated at 35,000 people.

Although the town suffered setbacks during the bush war, it has since recovered. New commercial buildings, hotels, churches, educational institutions, fuel stations and markets have sprung up.

Strategically located on the busy Kampala-Gulu highway, Luwero is a stopover for northern Uganda and Sudan bound passengers and motorists. But just how clean is this town?

A tour of the town by Vision Group conducted between August 26 and September 6 revealed that even though the town is generally clean, it is grappling with sanitation issues such as inadequate dustbins and poor toilet facilities.

Only 10% of the respondents said they had ever seen dustbins in the town. The few dustbins were seen in the market areas. Majority (97%) said it was not easy to locate a dustbin in the town. The good news, however, was that the town has regular cleaning schedules.

Besides the council’s effort, residents and tenderers collect garbage in designated places from where it is collected by the town council truck, which operates on a fixed schedule.

The LC3 chairman for Luwero town, Charles Sebyala, says they have allocated over sh100m to garbage collection. This will cater for the cost of fueling the trucks and clear the salary arrears of the operators and loaders. He added that the recent acquisition of a tipper lorry and a tractor has helped to improve garbage management.

On the whole, residents are happy with water and sewage management. Many of them access piped water, while others rely on a nearby borehole.

An overwhelming 87% said they had seen public toilets in the town, while only 10% said they had ever seen sewage flowing in the city.


Uncollected garbage at Kasana market in Luwero. Inset is an undeveloped plot in the middle of the town

The majority of the respondents (63%) felt that Luwero is moderately noisy — mainly caused by motorists.

Like many towns in Uganda, there is a challenge of roaming cattle and goats in the town. Although authorities have, on several occasions, arrested and prosecuted the owners of such animals, Sebyala says many people do not care much for their animals.

Most undeveloped plots have grown bushy. Sebyala says the owners of the undeveloped plots have been given one month within which to start developing them.

Walking through the streets, Sunday Vision noticed hundreds of wooden shacks in the middle of the town. They present an ugly sight. While the town clerk Muluta Mugagga says that the kiosks be demolished, Sebyala insists that the exercise of demolishing them should be stayed for the time being, due to a ‘public outcry’.

The town council had earlier given kiosk owners a September 2013 deadline within which to demolish them.

Depite being located along the busy Kampala — Gulu highway where fatal accidents usually occur, Luwero lacks a mortuary. Dead bodies are usually heaped in a bathroom at Kasana Health centre IV, where they sometimes remain unclaimed for days.
Sunday Vision has, however, established that there is a new mortuary being constructed.

Sebyala observes that there is need to sensitise the people to appreciate their town. A cross section of Luwero residents interviewed believe if the town clerk (Mugagga) and the chairman (Sebyala) end their power struggle and work together, the town’s problems will be solved. In a struggle that has raged on for several months, Sebyala accuses the town clerk of insubordination. The town clerk on the other hand accuses Sebyala of interfering with his work.


Malaba: Where a dustbin is a luxury

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