Filthy, Stinking Slums Plague Mbale as Slumlords Ignore Standards

2515 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda
Filthy, overcrowded slums without sanitation, shacks with no water, flushing toilets or sewage systems, dominate the daily life for low-income earners in Mbale town. The back yards of Namatala ward reveal shared spaces, communal bathrooms, with communal pit-latrines and water gutters. Everything here is shared. People from Mbale town come from the workplaces and pubs to use the toilets and the slum dwellers, seem to have no control over what happens in their backyard. Most of the people interviewed don't want to live like this, but have very little control over their living conditions. In Namatala Ward where about 15,000 migrant Karamojongs and Iteso live, up to 100 people share a single stance pit-latrine contrary to the recommended sixteen people per single stance pit-latrine. They have left the control to the slumlords, who apart from demanding from their monthly rent, have done very little to change the living conditions in Namatala and Nauyo slums. Uganda Radio Network tracked down Akiteng Melda, a slumlord for Muvule Cell. She owns 20 rental units which she gives rents out to 20 families. The number of members in a family depends on financial status and the circumstances that have pushed them into a slum. But Akiteng says that while the families may be big, the slumlords can't construct a pit latrine for each family due to lack of space. Akiteng also admits that there is no tenancy agreement between her and her tenants to enforce cleanliness. She says her instructions on cleanliness are just verbal and not strict. // Cue in: "Then when it comes..." Cue out "...can participate" // A survey carried out recently by the Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda, an organization in Mbale indicates that 50,000 out of the 86,000 residents of Mbale Municipality have no access to pit-latrines. The report states that only 25% of slum dwellers have access to make shift pit-latrines. In Namatala Ward, the locals blame the authorities for failing to enforce the public health act that requires each residential building to have a pit latrine. Betty Adongot the Vice Chairperson LC1 of Muvule Cell explains that the municipal authorities have failed to force landlords to construct latrines in the area. She says failure to enforce the existing laws has made it difficult for local leaders to implement the by-laws on cleanliness in the slums. // Cue in: "If the compound..." Cue out "...of the community" //. There is divided opinion among the slum dwellers on who should be responsible for their sanitation. A few believe that this should be an individual responsibility, but the majority believe the responsibility lies with the central and local government- "Government owes us better sanitation", they lament. But Denis Okwi, a local council official, wonders how Government can break the cultural barriers that push some women to easing themselves in the open for fear of contracting diseases from the public toilets. Such women openly claim that public toilets are dangerous to their reproductive health. // Cue in: "In Muvule generally..." Cue out "...defecate any how" // Most Slumlords in Mbale do not provide tenancy agreement, that could spell out the sanitation expectations by both tenant and slumlord.


Tagged with: slums