Today, we bring you profiles of Yumbe and Bugiri
By Watuwa Timbiti and Richard Drasimaku
trueIn the Make Uganda Clean campaign, Vision Group is profiling major urban centres in the country, highlighting their sanitation situation, with a view to recognising the cleanest towns at the end of November.
Today, we bring you profiles of Yumbe and Bugiri Of the six parishes that comprise the town, only one has a mild semblance of town status. Infact, Yumbe town has more grass-thatched houses than iron roofed structures.
Granted town status in 2001 with the formation of Yumbe district, which was carved out of Arua district, the town whose population is estimated at 35,925, is tormented by poor sanitation. According to a Vision Group survey done between August 26 and September 6, the town has a cleaning plan, but the residents are not satisfied with its cleanliness.
All respondents reported that the dustbins in the town, are insufficient and dirty. However, the town’s biggest eye sore is the spot between Yumbe Health Centre III and Homeland hotel where garbage has been tucked. The mayor, Moses Rubeson, attributes the accumulation of garbage at this site to the breakdown of the tractor which he says left them with no means to transport the garbage to a dumping site, 3km away.
The town is said to be polluted as 100% of the respondents revealed so. This can be blamed on the careless disposal; for instance, all respondents report to have seen someone litter the town in the past three months. Additionally, little is done by the residents to improve the sanitation situation as only 22% of the respondents have avoided littering and the same percentage have taken part in a clean-up exercise. An insignificant 6% have avoided pollution activities and a mere 11% of the respondents have talked to others about sanitation.
The town’s sanitation is equally compromised by loitering animals and poultry. All the respondents have seen livestock/poultry in the town in the past six months. Goats, sheep and cattle are the most common animals on the loose. On the other hand, although a high percentage of the respondents (82%) acknowledge the existence of a public toilet, they say they are very dirty.
Worse still, there is only one public toilet near the main market. Yumbe, which largely depends on borehole water (82%), has a road network that comprises levelled murram roads and with many potholes. Noise is equally a big challenge, 91% of the respondents feel Yumbe is noisy, attributing the noise to motor vehicles, prayers and boda boda riders. On grass maintenance a high proportion of the respondents (82%) have noticed overgrown grass in the town, according to the survey, and the grass maintenance levels are rated as low.
Budget constraints: Personnel shortage
In the face of such poor community sanitation and environment awareness, Rubeson says they have a quarterly Keep Yumbe Clean exercise, where residents are mobilised to join the leaders in the general cleaning of the town.
More can still be done to improve sanitation in the town, whose population depends mainly on agriculture and boda boda riding, according Rubeson. “Our major problem is funds.
We have a low local revenue base because we only have a market, an abattoir and hotel tax is paid by only two hotels,” he says. A big share of the sanitation vote, Rubeson explains, is for paying cleaners who routinely sweep the roads and alleys. The town, he adds, received a tractor from the Government last year, which is used to transport garbage.
He appeals to the Government to allocate them a lorry to supplement the tractor.Rubeson adds that they plan to create a Yumbe town council day, which will be an annual event for mobilisation and sensitisation of communities on sanitation and hygiene.
School children walking past burning garbage
- Moses Rubeson attributes the accumulation of garbage near Yumbe health centre III to the breakdown of the tractor, which, he says, left them without an option to transport the garbage to a dumping site which is 3km away.
Stray animals, humans inseparable in Bugiri
Watuwa Timbiti and George Bita
Stepping into Bugiri town, apart from the iron sheet-roofed-buildings being a formerly Asian town, many stray animals feasting on the overgrown grass in the urban centre meet the eye. What is worrying though is that the animals are not only unattended to, but they also soil the town, something town dwellers seem to have taken as normal as they mingle with cattle.
The challenge of loitering animals was proven true by a Vision Group survey on the town. For instance, a high proportion of the respondents (73.3%) reported to have regularly seen animals in the town, pointing out cows as the commonest, followed by goats. Maimuna Namakula, the assistant town clerk, says the council is in the process of setting up a bylaw to check cattle grazing in town. “It is time to rein in on the offenders and bring them to book.
Such loitering animals are a common site in Bugiri town. Photos by George Bita
The cattle worsen the garbage problem in town,” she says, adding that sometimes animals interrupt smooth traffic flow on the Iganga-Tororo highway. The town, which by the mid-1930s, was an Indian settlement and a rest-point for travellers headed to Buganda and beyond, is not only grappling with insufficient dustbins, but also has more than half of its buildings clad in old paint. With insufficient dustbins, garbage management is definitely a problem.
Namakula says they have a designated dumping site outside town where the collection trucks take the rubbish on a daily basis, noting that garbage collection takes almost 10% of the annual budget, which is sh1b. “The money for garbage collection is not enough to ensure that the town is thoroughly clean.
There is need for more funding,” she suggests. A low percentage of the respondents (16.7%) have seen sewage bursts in the town, although the response to fix the problem has been low. The town’s toilet coverage seems fair, with a high percentage of the respondents (93.3%) reporting to have seen public toilets and they are averagely clean.
Until it became a town council in 2000, with the carving of Bugiri district from Iganga, Bugiri, which was a town board, currently depends on piped water and wells as the main source of water.
With a population of 25,900, according to the 2011 Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), the town which comprises three secondary and eight primary schools, largely depends on the national electricity power grid for lighting. There is no town planner, education officer or environment officer. However, there is one health inspector, one engineer and one lands officer.
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Yumbe still stuck with garbage