Monday August 18 2014

Enforce proper waste disposal

By Simon J. Mone

Completion of sewerage treatment facilities at Kinawataka Lubigi, Nakivubo, and Nalukolongo will offer relief for people in and around Kampala who have grappled with horrible smell.

These projects will also ease the burden on the city’s only sewerage treatment plant. Bugolobi sewerage works has until now been serving only 7 per cent of Kampala’s households, which has increased significantly over the years.
This brings to question how safely Kampala households are managing human waste. A majority of the population fall in the middle or low-income bracket, which relies on non-sewer systems.

Non-sewer systems being used are pit latrines and septic tanks. As reports show, a number of homes in the city’s outskirts lack appropriate toilets - an indication that open human waste disposal is common.

This is backed by the sight of sewerage on open land, in drainage channels and along back streets.

While pit latrines are the cheapest, simplest and most widely used alternatives, they come with a lot of shortcomings. They attract flies and also generate bad odour. Unlined pits can easily collapse and where pit latrines become full, they must be emptied or be replaced with new ones.

It is, however, costly to find space to construct new pit latrines because land is scarce and it is not sustainable to continue digging up pits everywhere. This is a major impediment to accessing basic sanitation for many people.

Besides, proper latrine use to ensure prolonged latrine life depends on number of users, pit size and frequency of pit emptying. This means for shared latrines, cleanliness can be wanting, requiring extra care to avoid catching diseases.

Waste emptying trucks are available to ensure that filled-up latrines can be used again, but emptying costs have to be met by households. This is difficult given the costs involved.

Waste management services also need to be properly regulated to check careless dumping and ensure faecal waste is managed in the best way possible to avoid potential health and environmental hazards.

In unlined pit latrines, liquid portion of faecal matter can potentially seep through pit walls into surrounding areas. This increases the potential of groundwater pollution.

It is bad for the environmental sanitation. And households that are unable to find land to dig up new pit latrines are forced to seek other options, including open human waste disposal.

This is detrimental to public health and exposes people to the risk of cholera and diarrhoea, not to mention unpleasant smell.
The construction of Lubigi will ensure that more households are connected to the city’s sewerage lines. This solves the problem of faecal matter disposal on open land and keeps the environment safe.

Simon J. Mone,