Ugandan Federation Breaks Ground in Kawama

by James Tayler

By Lutwama Muhammed

The Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation began work on a low-cost housing project for 250 families in Kawama, Jinja, last week. The Federation was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by Michael Werikhe, national Minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development. The project is on 7.6 acres of land granted to the federation by Jinja municipal council after a long process of negotiation between slum dwellers and the council.

The ceremony coincided with the 29th Annual General Meeting of Shelter Afrique in Uganda from 13 to 17 June. Slum dwellers participated by showcasing their activities and demonstrating low-cost house models. The modeling event took place in Jinja and over 1500 federation members from the cities of Arua, Mbale, Kabale, Mbarara, Kampala, and Jinja were in attendance.

Among the Shelter Afrique delegates were ministers of housing from Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Namibia, and Nigeria. In addition, directors and heads of delegations from Gambia, Malawi, and Zambia, attended alongside Ugandan government officials.

In his remarks, Werikhe expressed commitment and readiness to support Ugandan slum dwellers by allocating them land that is available in Jinja, as well as to find resources to buy land for slum dwellers in Kampala. He added that his government is very positive about the federation’s community-led process and thanked SDI and ACTogether for spearheading such initiatives in Uganda.

SDI coordinator Rose Molokoane thanked the governments of Namibia and Malawi for the tremendous support that they have offered SDI-affiliated federations in their respective countries, and requested the government of Uganda to eumlate what other countries are doing to support slum dwellers to realize their human rights to housing, security of tenure, and basic services.

SDI affiliates from Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, and South Africa, also shared their experience using savings as an organizing tool to influence their governments. The visitors highlighted that “we are not just beggars. We meet the government half way.”