Slum Dwellers Drive Informed Planning in Kampala

by James Tayler

Surveying in Kampala

By Laura Guzman, AcTogether Uganda

Photos by Maria Carrizosa 

Collecting information in partnership with communities about their needs and priorities is a tenet of the work of ACTogether and the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU). By helping collect this information, analyzing it, and presenting it back to communities and their municipal officials, projects can more specifically respond to community needs and desires. In June, as detailed in an earlier post, international and local interns, ACTogether staff, and Federation members surveyed slum dwellers and municipal officials in the five divisions of Kampala in order to learn more about the needs of slums in the city. The surveys were intended to gather information on the slum dwellers’ and municipal officials’ opinions on the state of governance, data and information, sanitation, and livelihoods. The survey was only an exploratory one, meant to identify potential trends and patterns throughout the city. The survey is a first step in a process including enumeration, mapping of settlements, and in-depth conversations between slum dwellers and municipal officials. Based on the findings of the preliminary survey, further enumerations, and multiple stakeholder conversations, NSDFU and ACTogether are investigating replicating Municipal Development Forums (MDFs) – which have demonstrated great promise in Ugandan’s secondary cities – in Kampala. The information will also be used to guide Federation-led, low-cost sanitation facilities and finance facilities to support communities to build their own projects. 

Surveying in Kampala

In July, after analyzing the results, the information and lessons learned were presented to municipal officials and federation members from each division. Overall, the results of the survey given to slum dwellers show a high level of dissatisfaction with opportunities for interaction with municipal governments – 61 percent reported meeting one time per year or less – and a desire to meet more often. Slum dwellers also showed a high degree of willingness to participate in new forums of interaction with municipal officials. If forums like the Municipal Development Forums were to exist, 86 percent of slum dwellers would be willing to participate. In terms of sanitation, the surveys showed a dissatisfaction with current toilet facilities. There were not enough toilet facilities, and those that did exist were not adequately maintained. The results on sanitation showed that 83 percent of slum dwellers report sharing toilets, 73 percent lack access to a waterborne toilet, and 78 percent would be willing to pay for a well-maintained waterborne toilet facility. In terms of access to loans, 69 percent of slum dwellers interviewed reported dissatisfaction with access to loans for livelihood projects, and 74 were unsatisfied with the terms of loans. In terms of capacity to save and to increase quality of life, 73 percent and 78 percent, respectively, were unsatisfied with their capacity.

Surveying in Kampala

For slum dwellers, these trends were fairly steady across gender lines, but vary in key areas such as satisfaction with opportunities to interact with municipal government (males, at 83 percent, were more unsatisfied than females, at 56 percent), perceived ease of access to data on slum settlements (58 percent of males found data difficult to access, 32 percent of females reported difficulty), willingness to pay for well-maintained, waterborne toilet facilities (females, at 92 percent, were more willing to pay than males, at 88 percent), and satisfaction with loan availability (males, at 87 percent dissatisfied, were more unsatisfied than females, at 60 percent). 

In the breakdown across municipalities, slum dwellers in Kawempe were consistently the least satisfied in terms of governance and information on slum settlements, and those in Nakawa were consistently the most satisfied. In terms of loans for livelihood, residents in Makindye were the least satisfied with availability and terms of loans, and those in Nakawa were the least satisfied with the ability of savings to increase savings and quality of life. 

Surveying in Kampala

On the whole, the results of the survey showed that municipal officials and slum dwellers had similar perceptions of the current situation with regard to information on slum settlements, and – to some degree – with regard to loans for livelihood. However, municipal officials reported that they met to discuss issues of development considerably more frequently than slum dwellers (with only 31 percent reporting meeting once per year or less, whereas 61 percent of slum dwellers reported meeting this infrequently), and more municipal officials found the opportunities to meet together with slum dwellers to be adequate. In terms of sanitation, municipal officials believed that fewer slum dwellers share facilities (reporting that 75 percent of slum dwellers share a toilet), and that a much larger proportion used free facilities (with 79 reporting that slum dwellers use free facilities, whereas slum dwellers reported that only 48 percent do use free toilets). Significantly, municipal officials believe that slum dwellers are much less likely to pay for clean, waterborne facilities (44 percent willing) than the slum dwellers themselves report to be (78 percent willing).

By taking this information, sharing it widely, and informing future projects with the new knowledge, NSDFU and ACTogether can get an idea of the situation faced by slum dwellers. It is important to continue the process with careful enumeration and mapping of each slum settlement in order to identify specific needs for each community. In order to address identified needs and problems, it is key to develop a dialogue between municipalities and slum communities. By using survey information, enumeration data, and dialogues, interventions like MDFs, sanitation facilities, and finance facilities can be developed in a way that involves all stakeholders.