Waste disposal in Uganda is one of the main causes of waterborne diseases. Diarrhoea alone, according to 2016 UNICEF data, kills on average 33 children a day. Together with our friends from Insieme si Può and Karon Relief, we have created a ‘waste management’ project in Bukasa, one of the most at risk districts in Kampala, Uganda’s capital.
EDUCATE TO PREVENT
In Kampala, waste disposal is one of the main causes of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, typhus and cholera. The majority of people living in shantytowns does not possess adequate hygienic services: sometimes there will be latrines, but accessible for a fee, which is why often human waste is disposed by placing it in plastic bags and then thrown into the drainage system. The same system takes this infected water to the wells used by the population.
The biggest challenge for Uganda’s society is filling the gap generated by scarce teaching and education opportunities for the common folk. There has never been a widespread nor accessible programme at a local or national level for the most numerous segments of the population – the poorest one – which invested in raising awareness about the threat of incorrect waste disposal. Today, in 2019, the lion’s share of the population is used to disposing plastic bottles and waste everywhere, completely ignoring the consequences of such actions.
There is a widespread belief even in the capital, Kampala, that waste management is the sole responsibility of the municipal authority. It therefore should not be the responsibility of an individual or part of a collective effort carried out by all the population. This lack of education and raising effective awareness about waste and protecting private and urban area has stopped any type of burden-sharing and resulted in waste decomposing everywhere.
Hence, the creation of the Waste Management project managed by the Karon Relief Association and which we support together with our friends of the Insieme si Può. The project will organise education and training courses which raise awareness among people who have not got a clue about waste disposal. The training sessions will take place twice a week: a theoretical session to analyse the participants’ context – both in terms of their family and their neighbourhood – with consequent strategies to change behaviours; a practical session ‘on the field’ where they will be taught how plastic waste is recycled with sand to create paving elements which can be sold. This last activity aims to unite aspects such as protecting the user’s health, the environment and human dignity thanks to self-supporting themselves with a small income made from selling the paving elements, which will also be motivation to participate in the programme in the first place. Moreover, some women who live in the more degraded areas of Bukasa, basically living on the landfill’s ground, are helped to kickstart a waste sorting and plastic recovery activity which will give provide them with income.
The second step aims to place big rubbish bins in various waste collection centres, such as churches, mosques, municipal offices and other public places. A young person in charge for every area will control that organic products are separated from inorganic ones, acting as a trainer by underlining the benefits of such a practice to the centres’ users.
Karon Relief will sign a contract with one/two waste collection companies which will travel to the centres with lorries, transporting sorted waste to other specific centres for correct disposal.
The young employees will work in the different collection centres by keeping the area clean and controlling whether waste is separated correctly, emptying the bins, and will work closely with local authorities.
At the same time, awareness campaigns will be carried out by hanging warning signs on rubbish bins, cars, and buildings. One of these campaigns will focus on promoting the use of paper bags to replace polythene, reinforced by training sessions which will teach participants how to produce paper bags.
One among the main objectives of the project is the creation of a collaborative network among the various areas where previously sorted waste (plastic, paper, iron) is then sold. The money from this activity in the future can be funnelled to support the projects’ costs.
The programme is thought for all age groups. Participants will come from the communities of Bukasa/Kirinya (Wakiso district) and Namuwongo (Makindye division), which are some among the most populous and highly polluted areas of the city of Kampala. Preferentially, participants will be people who up until now have had less opportunities to access content and stimuli on environmental topics and protecting a decent life, therefore principally the population living in shantytowns.