Home » Behavioural Change » Kampala slum where 4,000 share 12 latrines

Kampala slum where 4,000 share 12 latrines

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Kimombasa, a slum located about 10km outside Kampala.

A man and women walk passed one of the filthy water channels in Ki-Mombasa slum in Bwaise, a Kampala suburb. Ki-Mombasa is infamously known as a home to prostitutes where at any time of day or night clients can get sex for as low as 1,000 shillings. Photo by EDGAR R. BATTE.

Here; an estimated 4,000 people live on less than 10 acres of land and depend on 12 latrines.

According to the local Jambula Zone L.CI chairman Noordin Ssentamu, residents often use plastic bags to relieve themselves, which are later thrown into water drainage systems in the area.

Many have ended up blocking these systems where cleaning also poses a challenge due to the foul smell of human waste that emanates from them.

“We have two toilets donated to us by Amref and African Evangelistic Enterprises, which have six holes for women and another six for men, but users have to pay Ush200 ($0.074) to use them,” he said.

However, due to poverty, many opt to use plastic bags instead.

According to Ms Malice Naguja, 76, the caretaker of one of the latrines, hardly 10 people use the facilities a day.

Mr Sentamu said diarrhoea and cholera were common among children in the area as many ended up playing in ditches which were also the water drainage systems, due to lack of playing fields.

Cholera was also rampant among people of other age groups.

In a worst case scenario, some residents fetched water from a pipe that was leaking from right inside the ditch where faeces were thrown.

This, Mr Sentamu said, was due to lack of adequate water supply. The residents have only one public tap, leaving many with the only option of buying water from vendors at $0.5 (Sh400) for 20 litres, the amount majority cannot afford.

Taking shower

Bwaise water, Ki-Mombasa Slum

Bathing in this slum was another problem. Besides the cost of water being so high, lack of bathrooms for privacy made the situation worse.

Mr Sentamu said those who could no longer persevere missing a bath, used their verandas at night or sought privacy in a dark corner somewhere, and bathed as quickly as possible.

This was often done in front of children who had nowhere else to go at the time adults were bathing. The children seem to have gotten used to it.

Women suffer the most.

We expose ourselves to men and sometimes barely escape being raped, said a woman who introduced herself as Maria.

Mr Sentamu said the slums were nicknamed Ki-Mombasa after two prostitutes who settled there in early 1960 from Mombasa, Kenya.

From the money they made, they constructed several mud huts, earning themselves a name and reputation among local residents.

The two also introduced prostitution which continues to date.

Girls as young as 14 can be seen seated in front of the doors of their houses as early as 10am dressed in suggestive outfits as children play nearby.

The chairman told Africa Survival Series the women were prostitutes waiting for customers.

He said most latrines constructed earlier constructed got filled up over 10 years ago and the fast population growth led to the current situation.

When it rains

Because the area was a wetland, it suffers frequent floods every time it rained. Floating plastic bags with human waste becomes visible all over the place, exposing children to health risks.

When it floods, parents are forced to take their children to dry lands until the situation returns to normal.

The floods with the dirty bags ended up in houses, that is why you see everything inside them, including beds, are placed on top of layers of bricks, said the chairman.

Garbage was last collected from the area eight years ago. Consequently, piles and piles of garbage sit right next to entries to the small huts, shops and eateries.

Interesting; Ki-Mombasa is home to people from five countries, Rwanda, Kenya, DR Congo, Burundi and Uganda. Most women engaged in prostitution for a living.

Drug addicts find Ki-Mombasa a haven where supplies were readily available.

However, despite the hygiene and security challenges, Ki-Mombasa remained a popular destination for many.

A two-bedroom house in Ki-Mombasa can serve as a home, bar and a lodge.

Mr Sentamu said the place got busier when darkness set in and due to lack of enough space, a bed could be shared by two couples at a time.

“One room of four beds could have eight people having sex at the same time, this is how bad the situation is here,” he said.

While this was happening, children would be sleeping somewhere under these beds.

According to Mr Sentamu, life in the area has been like that for more than five decades now and no possible change was in sight.

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