In Kasule Zone, Katwe in Makindye Division lies congested squalid housing units where some of the urban poor reside.
The Kampala slum is littered with human waste while flies and stench emerge from heaps of uncollected decomposing waste.
Mr Godfrey Mutebi, 46, a local leader, says due to the surging population and shortage of pit-latrines, and other sanitary facilities in the area, residents have resorted to dumping human waste in drainage channels.
Mr Mutebi says some landlords don’t empty the filled pit-latrines, leaving sewage to spill.
However, when Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) rolled out the City Wide Inclusive Sanitation (CWIS) programme this year, Kasule Zone’s sanitation improved.
“The situation was worse because residents dumped human waste everywhere. But city authorities visited Kasule Zone and sensitised residents and landlords on how to manage faecal sludge. Majority did not know how to empty toilets. We are happy the situation has slightly improved,” Mr Mutebi says.
Kasule Zone is among the city slums where CWIS programme is being implemented. The three-year programme seeks universal access to sustainable sanitation to eliminate open defecation.
The $5m (Shs18.5b) programme is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates and plans are underway to extend it to Mukono and Wakiso districts.
It aims at ensuring timely control and transportation of faecal sludge from the household level to the treatment plant. Faecal sludge includes human excreta, water and solid wastes.
Statistics from KCCA show that 64 per cent of the city population use pit-latrines, 38 per cent use unlined pit-latrines, 29 per cent use septic tanks while one per cent do open defecation. Only 8 per cent of the population is connected to the sewer and have flush toilets.
The sanitation crisis in the city undermines the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 for provision of clean water and sanitation.
Last year, Daily Monitor reported that the city, with a day-time population of about four million people, has only 16 public toilets.
CWIS at a glance
Mr Allan Nkurunziza, the programme manager at CWIS, says they will address emptying toilets and transportation of sewage.
“We are looking at how to offer toilet services to handle the crisis so that people access proper sanitation,” he says, adding that KCCA will work with partners in faecal sludge management to address the problem.
“We seek to strengthen the laws that govern faecal sludge management. We already have a faecal sludge ordinance in the offing to guide the disposal. We are also thinking about having this project rolled out in the Metropolitan Area and how we can work with partners to ensure we have a coordinated effort,” he says.
Mr Nkurunziza adds that the service will come at a fee but KCCA will set the price to avoid exploitation.
He says the city authority collects and manages faecal sludge only in public institutions such as schools and hospitals.
KCCA has drafted a Sewerage and Faecal Sludge Management Ordinance 2010 which provides for containment, collection, transportation, disposal, treatment and reuse of sewage.
In 2014, the authority carried out a feasibility study on sanitation in Kampala and established that majority of the people relied on on-site sanitation such as septic tanks and pit-latrines where waste settles at the water table, thus contaminating water sources.
The study also blamed the poor management of faecal sludge disposal on the long distance of up to 10km from source to one centralised faecal sludge treatment plant, lack of proper access to sanitation facilities and low awareness on toilet emptying as well as prohibitive emptying costs for local communities.
Private companies charge $12 (about Shs44,000) per m3 of the cesspool trip yet majority of the urban poor have an average daily income of $2 (about Shs7,400).
The study says this leaves a substantial part of the city unserved.
As a result of the study, KCCA developed the Weyonje (clean your environment) campaign to sensitise urban communities on proper faecal sludge disposal.
Mr Nkurunziza says collection and management of faecal sludge rose from 43 per cent in 2014 to 58 per cent by 2018.
Mr Jude Byansi, KCCA’s acting waste and sanitation manager, says under the Weyonje campaign, residents are advised to separate human waste from other forms of solid such as garbage.
Mr Byansi says the mix-up of waste contaminates faecal sludge and makes it hard to be emptied.
He says city authorities are partnering with the private sector to ensure proper solid waste managment.
According to KCCA Solids Waste Management Ordinance 2000, every household is supposed to pay for their own garbage collection.
The National Water and Sewerage Corporation plans to have at least 30 per cent of homes in the city connected to the main sewer by 2030.
Mr Shaka Bakabulindi, the secretary of Association of Uganda Emptiers, says they charge between Shs60,000 and Shs70,000 for a 2,000-litre truck.
However, he admits some households cannot afford the fees but advises them to share the cost.
Mr Bakabulindi also notes that the haphazard settlements in many parts of the city is a big hindrance to waste collection.
“Kampala slums are not well-planned. Some communities have no access routes. This increases operational costs. Where there are no access routes, we have to use long pipes. These communities also mix human waste with solid waste and it becomes cumbersome for us while emptying toilets,” he says.
Mr Bakabulindi also says treatment plants are open from 8am-6pm during working days and 9am-4pm on weekends, which is not enough time to allow collection of all faecal sludge from the communities.
At the treatment plant, a 2,000-litre truck is charged Shs10,000 for disposal and Shs15,000 for a 4,000-litre truck.
Any truck which carries more than 5,000 litres of faecal sludge, Mr Shaka says, is charged Shs20,000.