New Cities asked to focus on proper housing

By Douglas Mubiru

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WORLD|URBAN DAY|CITIES

KAMPALA - Stakeholders have asked the leadership of the recently approved cities to focus on improving housing for its urban population.

Learning from Kampala City, the new cities have been tasked to fight the growth of unhygienic settlements such as slums.

Several reports have highlighted that a big number of urban poor and the middle class, live in poor settlements and that this should be the focus of the new cities.

This year, 15 towns which were granted city status, have for long struggled with housing services.

Out of the 15 Cities, Jinja, Mbale, Gulu, Mbarara, Lira, Fort Portal, and Masaka became effective this financial year, 2020/2021.

Improving accommodation services in urban areas, was the message that dominated the commemoration of World Urban Day.

William Mudewalaga, Board Chairman of Shelter and Settlements Alternatives Uganda, urged that communities have to be involved in planning before development is carried out.

(L-R) Fiona Nshemerirwe, General Manager, Uganda Housing Cooperative Union, Willilam Mudewalaga, the board chairman of Shelter and Settlements Alternatives Uganda and Dorothy Bazibwe, Shelter and Settlements Alternatives Uganda addressing the press a press conference during the celebrations of World Urban day in Kampala.


The move, he said, will reduce mushrooming unplanned structures that hinder the government's development.

"In the world today, over 1.2 billion people live without a decent place they call homes. People do not have access to electricity, safe water, toilet, and the threat of indiscriminate evictions. 

The world is urbanizing at a fast rate and it is projected that by 2030 half of the world's population will be living in urban areas", Mudewalaga said.

By 2030, he said, that figure will have doubled if not addressed.

He made the remarks on Saturday (October 31, 2020) during the commemoration of the World Urban Day in Ntinda, a Kampala Suburb.

This year's celebrations were organized under the theme "Valuing our Communities and Cities."

Planned residential settlement flats of Uganda Police at Naguru.


Mudewalaga said today the community lacks land rights awareness, as well as proper documentation and support to various land claims.

Reduce taxes on materials

The Government has also been urged to reduce taxes imposed on construction materials.

Fiona Kabwama, the General Manager, Uganda Housing Cooperative Union, explained that the increasing prices have hindered several people to construct their own homes.

She emphasized that the government should increase collaboration of the formation of partnerships so that people come with affordable structures. 

She added that the government should support the youth in funds to put houses at good affordable costs.

The Government was urged to reduce taxes imposed on construction materials. (Credit: Wilfred Sanya)


What stakeholders say

According to Lawrence Byansi, the Executive Director, Mukono Multipurpose Youth Organisation, youth are more affected and should be supported by the government through cooperatives to save money to buy big pieces of land and share.

Byansi said this will enable them to buy big pieces of land where they can construct affordable houses.

He explained better housing enables the government to put infrastructure needed for the communities, adding that youth should be empowered to work together.

Stephen Bogere, a Senior Sociologist in the Ministry of Land Housing and Urban Development, said the issue of the settlement goes beyond the infrastructure of the road network of the 22 municipalities. 

Bogere alluded that under the Kampala Institutional Infrastructure Development (KIP), Cities can be built if the people are economically empowered.

"We need to widen the scope of housing beyond human settlement even though the government passed the 2016 housing policy. We are currently collecting data to review how best this policy can be used," Bogerere said.