From polythene bags to public toilets
Asadu Muwonge is 39 years old. He lives in Katwe I parish in Kampala, a slum area in the Ugandan capital. He is the caretaker of one of the public toilets that were constructed by the Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning and Management Project (KIEMP).
Sanitation is one of the basic social services to which the urban poor in Kampala slums have very limited access. Asadu tells us how this area used to be before the construction of the public toilets: "We had a very small two-door toilet, but it wasn't useful. It was helping just one plot." Because of a lack of alternatives many people resort to other ways of easing themselves. As Asadu explains: "People were using drains and so-called "flying toilets", using polythene bags and throwing them on roofs."
Goodwill of the landlord
Asadu's public toilet has 4 toilet stances and 2 bathrooms, as well as a urinal; and a small communal tap. The toilet could be constructed thanks to the goodwill of the landlord who was willing to donate a piece of land, without any financial compensation, for the betterment of the entire community.
Asadu was then appointed by the local community as the caretaker of the public toilet. He collects user fees which are used for the operation and maintenance of the toilet, including keeping the toilet clean, providing water, soap and toilet paper, doing minor repairs, and emptying the toilet when it is full. As a toilet caretaker, Asadu can earn a little bit of money, too. "It's little, it's not much. I have got my other jobs."
Sensitising the community
Asadu also benefits in different ways. He mentions how he has learned many things about sanitation and behavioural change, which he can use to sensitise the community. Together with other caretakers, he received basic training from KIEMP, for example on records-keeping.
Most importantly, hygiene has improved in Katwe I parish, thanks to the efforts of Asadu and the local community-based organisations. "We moved from dirtiness and we turned to cleanliness. We try to sensitise, to teach people how to use a toilet, how to wash hands."
Asadu confirms: "The place has changed for the better."
Facts and figures
Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning and Management Project (KIEMP) is a 6-year project (2006-2012) co-funded by the governments of Belgium and Uganda and Kampala Capital City Authority to the sum of € 6.6 million.
The project aims at improving the quality of life of poor communities in informal settlements in Kampala by strengthening the capacity of Kampala Capital City Authority in environmental planning and management; changing the behaviour of local communities towards local infrastructure; and improving environmental and housing conditions.
One component of improving environmental conditions is improving access to sanitation in the project area.
A total of 35 public toilets have been built in the three parishes of Bwaise III, Katwe I and Kisenyi II, and management structures have been put in place to operate and maintain them.
The communities have welcomed the improved sanitation facilities. Many households are willing to pay the user fees.
On average, a public toilet has about 100 users a day, including both residents and passers-by. In some zones, the KIEMP public toilet is the only sanitation facility for those residents that live in a house without a toilet.
The use of "flying toilets" has become less common and is being tolerated less by the communities, as a new alternative is now available.
Behavioural change and social mobilisation activities are focusing on raising awareness on sanitation and hygiene.