Water in Kampala’s slums costs three times more than it does in the planned areas such as Kololo and Nakasero, according to a report of Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning Management Project (KIEMP).
KIEMP, which is addressing public health-environmental and housing concerns in Kampala’s unplanned settlements, is funded by the Belgium Technical Cooperation.
“Whereas people in better-off neighbourhoods pay sh30 for 20 litres of water, those in poor parishes often pay sh100, three times more than the planned settlements pay,”
“Many people are, therefore, forced to draw water from contaminated, unprotected spring wells, exposing them to health hazards,” the report said.
This was disclosed on Monday at a media workshop entitled “linking urbanisation and health: key emerging challenges” at Hotel Triangle in Kampala.
The workshop was organised ahead of the World Health Day which was celebrated in Kampala on Tuesday.
At the same workshop, Collins Mwesigwa, an expert from the World Health Organisation, said the poor in urban areas were being denied access to safe water because of increased urban planning.
He said more than 60% of the population in Kampala, which lives in unplanned settlements popularly referred to as slums, lacks access to utilities and amenities.
As a result, slum areas are frequently hit by water-bone diseases such as cholera and dysentery, according to the expert.
“The urban areas are growing without planning. The disease burden is growing and outbreaks of cholera in Kampala occur every year,” Mwesigye said.
He, however, added that the issues affecting urban health were beyond the health sector, pointing out public infrastructure, local governance and income inequalities as some of the underlying causes.
“We can’t expect the Ministry of Health to solve the problem. We need to educate the civil society and the community on the problem so that the Government can plan better,” he said.
In the 1960s, Kampala did not have malaria not because there were no mosquitoes, but because the conditions that could cause the vectors to thrive were controlled.
Kampala used to be called the city of seven hills, but urbanisation had expanded to cover more than 30 hills.
“Look at the landscape beyond the seven hills, it unsightly because it is unplanned, with grave health consequences,” Mwesigye added.
Source: Gerald Tenywa, New Vision /allAfrica.com, 6 April 2010