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Poor Waste Disposal and Management in Katanga

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By Kaboolanganda Mirionsi and Magezi Druscilla Patience.

Kimwanyi zone in Katanga a Kampala suburb has for decades been known for its stench due to
poor waste disposal. Used plastics, polythene bags with feaces commonly known as flying toilets
and domestic waste are sluggishly disposed in the corridors, trenches, drainage system and even
in each other’s compound during the night time.

As though this is not enough, the dumping site in Busia zone, Katanga which the two zones share
usually floods with the waste therefore whenever it rains, the rubbish flows back to the
residential area.

Although the government of Uganda through Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) alongside
other NGOs like The African Medical and Research Foundation Uganda (AMREF), Church of
Uganda and many Kawempe South aspiring politicians constructed public toilets in Kimwanyi zone, human wastes is still poorly disposed off as it is visible in at least every 2 out of the 3
corridors one could use while navigating the area.

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“Since we put a small fee on the use of the public toilets, the residents have resorted to the old
system of flying toilets since the money asked of them seems much given the standards of their
living and income. For one to use the public toilets, 200 Uganda Shillings is paid for showering,
300 Uganda Shillings for short call and 500 Uganda Shillings for long call with exception of
young children and elders of 50years and above”Denis Mugisha the LC 1 sanitation in charge
said.

While explaining the poor waste disposal question in the area, Mr. Mugisha went on to say that
the KCCA truck they once relied on is no longer in service which has affected their ability to get
rid of waste.

“KCCA Kawempe South used to take the rubbish but it stopped because the vehicles broke down
therefore we solicit money from business owners and the LC1 executive collect some money too
to pay private garbage companies to take the garbage from residents as they cannot share there
peanut payments with the contribution to garbage collection,” he said .

Additionally, Andrew Guma a representative on the LC1 executive of Kimwanyi zone said, due
to the high population in Kimwanyi zone, the services offered by KCCA garbage team seems
unnoticed as they take the rubbish once in a month because of the big area they have to cover.

Even efforts that have been put in by foreign agencies or individuals seem insufficient in the
fight against poor waste disposal in Katanga’s Kimwanyi zone as Mr. Guma went on to explain
saying;

“John Pierre a humanitarian tendered to clean the major trenches weekly for years now but his
efforts are compromised by the rubbish dumped in the corridors and the small trenches which
flow into the main trench whenever it rains therefore the main trench is at times clean but the
corridors, small trenches and the residents compounds are filled with garbage.”

This efforts have further been limited by the fact that most of the residents are not consistent
with the efforts being in place and have rather opted to take a back seat in the fight against
garbage in Katanga.

While speaking to the LC 1 in charge of sanitation, he said, “According to me, sanitation should
start with us as residents because the residents have neglected their responsibility as one
comfortably stays in a dirty environment.”

While speaking to one of the residents that has inhabited Kimwanyi zone for 35 years, Margret
Nankanja, she said that the public toilets have in deed helped with the issue of hygiene and
sanitation in Katanga.

“For the 35 years, the health is now somehow because by the time we came to settle here, people
used to throw feaces on the roofs wrapped in polythene bags but with the public toilets in place,
the health is somehow better now,” she elaborated.

In her view, the changes that the area has undergone in the recent past can be attributed to the
fact that the new local government regime has worked tooth and nail to ensure that the hygiene
standards are improved.

“The gradual changes in Katanga sanitation came in the last regime that's when the public toilets came and they were built by KCCA Kawempe, people who had contested also contributed to the construction of these toilets. The contestants spear headed the clearance of the trenches and the
drainage systems, communal works,” she said.

Furthermore, she explained the fact that even the money they used to pay for rubbish is no longer
asked for although she could not come up with a logical explanation for the abrupt change.

“We no longer pay the trucks for garbage, we only pay the people who carry the rubbish to the
truck amounts depending on the cargo you have starting from 500,” which we later learnt was
because humanitarian John Pierre had decided to pay for.

Many other initiatives have been put in place to fight against the poor waste disposal in the city
suburb as even plastic recycling companies have in conjunction with the women and children
tried to reduce the plastic waste in the community.

However, even these attempts to fight rubbish have been futile since people still go ahead to
throw plastic in the trenches that have been put in place to channel the waste into the main
drainage system.

“Due to the existence of plastic recycling companies, some women and youths have resorted to
collecting the plastics which seemed to be a giant leap to keep the area clean but some people
ignorantly still use the plastics and throw them in the trenches and corridors,” Mr. Guma said.

The efforts to fight against the rubbish pandemic in Kimwanyi zone has even shifted from the
community level as even other foreign individuals have tried to step into the picture and fight
against the virus as the LC 1 chairperson told us that;

“We have ever carried out communal works, students from Makerere came here for communal
work, the army in the last Covid period, KCCA also came even private organizations have
contributed so at the end of the month we pay a truck to take the rubbish even politicians have
come and engaged themselves in communal works,”

Despite the efforts that have been put in place to fight against the waste disposal issue, even the
endeavors meant to be supported by sister organizations like KCCA have been limited as Mr.
Mugisha explained the situation;

“Every house brings 1000 in Katanga to pay the contractors to take the rubbish because KCCA
of Kawempe division has many villages and therefore they cannot meet the demand as they
might only come once in a month. Being that the population in Katanga is high we decided that
we pay private companies to come and take the garbage on a weekly basis.”

He went on to explain that even the drainage system that has been put in place also becomes
disastrous especially when it rains and the area floods which affects the residents’
accommodation arrangements.

“Whenever it rains, this place doesn’t differ from Bwaise because the trench overflows due to
the blockage at its certain points and water enters people’s houses taking with it light items and
the houses flood too, as Kimwanyi zone , it is mainly the trench/drainage system that disturbs us
as residents”

Therefore, he said whatever humanitarian organization decided to help with the poor waste
disposal vice in the city suburb, their main concern is with drainage channel which need
immediate attention.

“In case you come across humanitarians from Makerere and they ask what this place needs; tell
them that we need the drainage system/ trench built, we need a garbage vehicle that can take the
garbage from this place in time,” said Mr. Mugisha.

Despite the fact that the residents seem to be confident in the current sanitation standard of the
community, it is clear their leaders believe they could do more, however, their sole hope lies in
foreign interventions from other organizations and the government.

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