Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Friday - visit to Kampala Capital City Authority and the slums

We drove into the centre of Kampala in very heavy traffic for an 8am meeting at the KCCA  - Kampala Capital City Authority's offices and met with many officials from Planning, Public Health, Water and Sanitation and the deputy Executive Director of the KCCA. We learned that Kampala covers an area of 200 square kilometres (not much more than the Elan Valley Estate's area) and has a resident population of 1.5 million people - this number doubles during the day as so many come into the capital for work. Around 60% of people live in informal settlements (slums), which we will visit later. Adam from our group found out later that the average number of people living on one hectare of land in Kampala is 400 - in London it is just 50 people per hectare!

We then set off to two different slums - Kaewempe and Bwaise, we had been warned not to wear any jewellery or have any valuables on display, to take very few photos and to keep together at all times, so with trepidation we approached the first area, estimated to have 100,000 people living in it. There had been torrential rain the night before and there was was water literally everywhere, the lower areas were completely flooded, it was all completely overwhelming.
Lower areas of the slum after heavy rainfall

In this particular slum there were two options for water: buy from the water sellers, who only sell at certain times of the day and the cost is around 100 Ugandan shillings per 20 litre can - 60% of the population of Kampala is classed as urban poor - surviving on less than 86 pence per day in our money, this is the equivalent of around 3700 Ugandan shillings - so collecting several cans per day of water from these sellers is simply not affordable for most people. We were then shown where people who cannot afford the water sellers' prices get their water - there were many children happily filling their cans and playing in the water, making little dams and generally having a good time:

Children collecting water

We were all shocked to then hear that this water supply was condemned in 2000 as it became unsafe, yet this is all that is available for people who cannot afford to buy it. The health worker who was with us explained that the families are told that they must boil this water before drinking it, and if you ask them whether they do so they will say that they do as they know this is what they should say. Again, most people cannot afford to buy the charcoal blocks needed to be able to boil the water.

Many of us became quite emotional at this point, it was all very hard to take in, and although the people we saw appeared to be cheerful and healthy, who knows how many others were inside the huts, too ill to be out and about?

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