Kawempe is one of Kampala’s largest and poorest informal urban settlements with up to 30,000 residents. Many of those living there are refugees from Northern Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan or from rural areas of Uganda seeking employment in the city.
90% of households earn less than $1.25 / £1 per day – the highest percentage of the slums in Kampala.
Estimates suggest that over 50% of the population of Kawempe are children, despite the slum itself being an extremely dangerous place for young people.
Living standards in Kampala,Masaka,Luweero & Mpigi are very poor, with most families living in small, one room mud huts. Rent is usually between 40,000-60,000 UGX with houses susceptible to leaking roofs and flooding when it rains. Basic services like electricity, roads, street lighting and proper rubbish disposal are virtually non-existent.
Families regularly number over six people and in most households, all family members live, sleep and eat in the same room together. Families rely on cheap foodstuffs (such as Matooke, cassava, beans and maize) with meat, fish, eggs and fruit being too expensive. Often families only have 1 meal a day and skip others to be able to pay their rent or buy other essential items.
Kampala,Masaka,Luweero & Mpigi has very limited access to clean and safe drinking water, with all water fetched from a nearby spring or communal taps. Between houses are open muddy channels where waste water is flowing, rubbish is often discarded, and mosquitoes and rats live and breed. There is also no effective sewerage system meaning that every time when there are heavy rains, sewage flows through the streets of the slum.
Poor sanitation, drainage systems and management of rubbish leads to frequent outbreaks of typhoid and cholera, adding to the already high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, other STDs, malaria, malnutrition and tuberculosis. As health care is expensive and often inadequate, simple medical conditions often go untreated and residents often only seek medical help for the most serious health problems.
Despite the enormous benefits of being able to attend school and receive an education, the costs involved in sending children to school in Uganda are prohibitive for the majority of slum residents.
The cost of school fees, uniforms, pens, paper, pencils, shoes and transport means that a large number of children have no hope of attending school. Poverty levels make it extremely difficult to develop any savings and often money for school fees is instead spent on greater needs such as food.
Children not attending school are often left to occupy themselves roaming around the slum, picking scraps or playing in the streets and rubbish piles.
A large proportion of the slum’s community is illiterate and lacks professional skills. Most jobs available are in the informal sector which means casual or unreliable work, no job security and low pay.
Men often work in construction or security earning 50,000 UGX to 130,000 UGX a month whilst women earn less, usually selling food, washing clothes or unemployed. Often women are single mothers or dependant on their husbands or other male relatives to help provide basic needs.