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Toilet use in Buvuma remains a luxury

posted 7 Oct 2013, 02:21 by RCN Uganda
Buvuma Islands on Lake Victoria were elevated to district status in 2010. The district consist of the three wards — Buwanga, Walwanda and Tome.

Hillary Simbwa, the mayor, boasts that Buvuma is the only town council in Uganda that is surrounded by water and green vegetation cover.

“We have one of the best sceneries in Uganda, blessed with not only water, but also plateaux. We have the Lagula plateau in Buwanga ward, Kananyonyi plateau in Walwanda and Mbegete plateau in Tome,” he said.

When Buvuma Islands became a district, politicians had big expectations. However, they now seem to be disappointed because the town faces many problems. With a population of over 7,500, the town lacks public toilets, secondary and primary schools. It is also struggling with poor disposal of garbage.

Simbwa says none of the three wards has a health centre II. However, residents have access to Buvuma health centre IV, which serves as the district hospital.

Buvuma town council lacks a physical plan, which has given residents room to build without following any order. This has resulted into the creation of more slums and camp-like structures in the town.

Low toilet coverge

“Even after three years as a town council, toilets remain a luxury in Buvuma. We could only construct one public toilet in Walwanda public market,” Simbwa said.

Charles Wandera, the Buvuma town council senior health inspector, says lack of toilets is their biggest challenge. He adds that the only public toilet in the area is filled and there are no funds to empty it.

“Our toilet coverage is less than 20%. Even where there is a toilet, people prefer using the lake or the bushes. Some have false beliefs that using a toilet can make a woman barren,” Wandera said.

He added that constructing a toilet on the islands costs up to sh20m.

Wandera explained that this was due to the fact that some places have weak soils, while others are rocky. He added that the water table is also so high, thereby making it difficult for them to construct a toilet because it could easily connect to the lake.

Water and sanitation

Wandera said residents report many cases of diarrhoea because many of them drink and use water from the lake, which is contaminated with human waste.

He also added that those who ease themselves in the bush think it is safer than going to the lake, but when it rains, the waste is washed into the lake.

Wandera explained that it is hard to discourage residents from easing themselves in the lake because they believe the lake cannot get contaminated. Many people bathe, wash cars, motor cycles, clothes and utensils in the lake, which is improper, he added.

Buvuma has gravity flow tap water, which only supplies Buwaga ward.

Wandera says the budgeting process for Buvuma town council does not consider public health and sanitation a priority. “I pray that policy makers start prioritising issues of public health and sanitation on a preventive basis. They prefer allocating more money to buying medicine to cure diarrhoea than on measures to prevent the disease,” he said.

Wandera said he had presented a budget of sh80m, but it was reduced to less than sh20m.

“I was disappointed. I had planned to construct three public toilets, buy dustbins, sensitise people and fuel the tractor for garbage collection, but without the funds, we cannot afford to do all that,” he said.

Simbwa says the town council operated on a budget of sh475m, of which only sh46m comes from local revenue. About sh150m goes towards the development budget.

“We would be collecting more local revenue if the Government had not centralised the fisheries tax. We are also fighting illegal fishing with our meagre resources. Therefore, I ask the Government to revise the policy and decentralise the tax again,” he said.

Waste management

According to Simbwa, there are no dustbins in the town council.

Simbwa explained that residents individually collect their garbage and burn it. “We got a tractor from the Government to help us collect garbage, but the district diverted it for its work because we had no funds to fuel it. The tractor is now down and we have tasked the district officials to have it repaired. When we get money, we shall be able to use it to collect garbage,” said Simbwa.


There are no dustbins in Buvuma town council. PHOTO/Henry Nsubuga

Education

Buvuma town council has recorded the worst performance in the education sector, with only three government primary schools and one secondary school.

“It has been difficult to get a pupil passing in first grade in Buvuma. However, last year, our MP Robert Migadde, was invited to a school to congratulate a pupil who had passed in second grade in the Primary Leaving Examinations,” Simbwa said.

Economic activities

The town council has only one public market called Walwanda Market. However, the market has many of unused stalls because most of the residents of Buvuma are involved in fishing.

Simbwa adds that the residents of Buvuma resorted to farming after the lake was emptied by fishermen due to illegal fishing.

“We produce upland rice, bananas, maize and other food crops. However, food production has led to the cutting down of forests, so as to clear land for cultivation. Charcoal burning is also done on a largescale.

Chat with residents

Night Apero

Lack of toilets is our biggest challenge. Local leaders recently asked us to contribute money to construct a toilet, but we have not responded. Our leaders say they do not have funds and we also cannot afford to construct toilets on our own.

Joseph Opendi of Kitamiiro village

There is poor sanitation. We lack toilets and most of the residents ease themselves in the lake and bushes. Unfortunately, some of us use the water from the lake in our homes.

Ivan Mugalu Ssuuna

We are doing badly in public health. Buvuma has no health centre II. The rocky nature of the land also makes it costly for us to construct toilets. The Government should provide us with more public toilets.

Maliten Lukoma Buliba, village council chairman

I blame the health inspectors for letting residents who do not have toilets live freely without any caution. As a village chairman, I cannot fight this alone.

Lydia Nakamyuka, vendor in Walwanda market

Poor waste disposal is a problem. We have a designated place where we should dump garbage, but vendors dump it anywhere they want without care.

Source: New Vision

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