From one end of the main access road, Butaleja town looks like a calm, neat place. But there''s more that meets the eye.
trueIn the Make Uganda Clean campaign, Vision Group is profiling major urban centres in the country, highlighting their sanitation situation, with a view to promote proper hygiene in towns. The cleanest towns will be announced on Friday November 29, at the Crested Cranes Hotel in Jinja during the Urban Authorities Association of Uganda’s Annual General Meeting
By Stephen Ssenkaaba and Moses Nampala
From one end of the main access road, Butaleja town looks like a calm, neat place. And yet, like any other growing town, it still presents all the hallmarks of struggle that leaves a lot to be desired.
Butaleja town council mayor Milton Mwima says the town is emerging from a rural background and trying to come to terms with the challenges of urbanisation.
Waste disposal here is largely through pit-latrines, but because of the poor soils in this area, shallow latrines are mostly used. These are highlysusceptible to collapsing during heavy rains.
“At the height of the rainy season, 70% of the pit-latrines in the town not only collapse, but faecal matter also oozes out of them, compromising the sanitation of the entire area,” says Mwima.
The town council constitutes six wards namely: Butaleja, Hisegha, Nanyulu, Bugaji, Sagenda and Lujehe. Salim Hasacha, the health inspector, notes that four out of the six wards are at risk of an epidemic outbreak.
This often puts a strain on the healthcare facilities in the town.
“The number of admissions registered at the health facility per month usually soars from 30 to 2,000 patients as a result of the rainy season,” Hasacha says.
These concerns are reflected in a Vision Group poll on sanitation and cleanliness in Butaleja town.
The poll, conducted between August and September this year, indicated that residents are averagely satisfi ed with the state of cleanliness in their town.
All the respondents said dustbins in the town are insufficient. A total of 29% reported to have seen someone litter the town in the past three months.
Currently, the town lacks a garbage dumping site. Garbage is tentatively disposed of on an abandoned piece of land 3km from the town centre. Without a central sewer system, Butaleja town still fi nds it difficult to regulate sewerage, posing a serious danger to the residents.
About 71% of the respondents observed that public toilets here are not only insufficient, but also dirty. It costs sh100 to access a public toilet here and with many people unable to afford that fee, the chances of resorting to bushes or polythene bags are high.
The town also teems with overgrown grass and, as 79% of the respondents observed, efforts by authorities to maintain green areas in the town are poor.
About 64% of the respondents also claim to have seen livestock loitering in the town in the past six months. Part of the problem is lack of sufficient funding.
Julius Hiirya, the town clerk, says out of the sh380m annual budget for the town, only sh20m is allocated to sanitation and garbage collection. This is hardly enough. The town has two planners, two health inspectors, two engineers, two lands officers and two education officers.true
The town council has set aside two days every week for residents to engage in general cleaning of their town and the surroundings.
Garbage skips have been placed on the streets. The council has also employed support staff who clean the town regularly.
Additionally, the town council constructed communal eco-san latrines, but the community has failed to use them adequately.
“Our community has failed to comply with the required utility usage rules by mixing both urine and solid waste,” says town clerk Julius Hiirya.
The council is considering establishing communal sanitary utilities called VIP model pit-latrines.
Hiirya says the council is looking for sh90m to put up a six-stance pit latrine, in each of the six wards.
The town also hopes to benefit from the sh7b Tororo-Manafa gravity water scheme that is in the offing.
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Find plenty other stories of the campaign here: Make Uganda Clean campaign articles
Need to dispose of waste in Butaleja? Try the pit-latrine