Over the years, shanties have sprung up in Kampala providing accommodation to more than 60% of the city’s population. However, government planning and funding has denied them public utilities like water since they are regarded as illegal settlements. As a result, poor people pay five times more than rich people for the same amount of water. [But now] Kagugube and Kisenyi in Kampala Central [have introduced] innovative interventions [which] promise to help the urban poor access cheap water.
In Kagugube the [€ 800,000 African Development Bank-funded Integrated Project of Water Supply and Sanitation Services for the Urban Poor] project is targeting 15,000 people. “These people buy 20 litres of water at sh100 [4.5 US dollar cents] while the rich pay only sh20 [0.9 US dollar cents] for the same amount of water,” [said Joseph Simbwa, a consultant with Winsor Consult, working on the project]. He adds that those who cannot afford the fee, fetch water from spring wells which public health officials of Kampala City Council ruled as unsafe more than a decade ago.
[...] The National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) offers two solutions. It has provided pre-paid water metres where users pay money for water and it is loaded on a chip [and it] provides toilet facilities: flush toilets connected to sewer lines, ventilated pit latrines and ecological sanitation.
[...] Nearby, Sawuda Bukirwa says the intervention has been timely since their toilet had collapsed and they were sharing a toilet with eight other households. “When people bathe, the dirty water flows towards my house. My children even have nowhere to play,” says Bukirwa.
[...] As a challenge, Simbwa says they have to break some houses to create passage for water pipes and access roads. He says the toilets that are not connected to the sewers will have to be emptied as soon as they get full and that the community is being empowered to manage the facilities. “We have been mobilising the communities, causing awareness and creating a sense of ownership,” Simbwa says. He says a steering committee is already in place to oversee the implementation of the activities and that other committees will be set up to manage the toilets and the water facilities.
In Kibwa zone in Mengo-Kisenyi where pre-paid meters for water have been installed, Nalongo Akram says they have greatly benefited from the project. Diseases such as diarrhoea have reduced and our backs are now safe since water is just at our door step,” says Akram. “Mothers used to keep dirty clothes in the house for days due to scarcity of water.” Akram says this kind of approach has also bailed women out of suffering because some men provide as little as sh300 [13.4 US dollar cents] to buy water and food. “Children used to miss classes because of frequent attacks from water-borne diseases like dysentery and diarrhoea, but this has tremendously reduced,” says Akram.
[...] Other areas in Kampala benefiting from the intervention are three parishes in Kisenyi and Ndeeba. Silver Sewanyana, the director of Winsor Consult, says NWSC would expand into other areas the moment it secures funding.
Source: Gerald Tenywa, New Vision / allAfrica.com, 24 May 2009