Kampala City & Slum Tours

Uganda gained its independence in 1962, at which time Kampala became the capital and center of many important operations of Uganda’s economy, administration, communications, transportation, cultural-heritage, as well as the country’s educational and religious institutions. Kampala is located in the southeastern part of Uganda bordering the northern side of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. The city is home to the East African Development Bank.  Kampala is just 72 kilometers from the equator – just 72 kilometers

Historically, Kampala is originally known for its 7 rolling hills, which reach an altitude of up to 4,000 feet at their highest point. The original number of hills was 7, but has since grown into many more. The city got its name from Hill of the Impalas and Kampala region was at one point a designated area for hunting of impalas.

The climate in Kampala is described as that of a tropical rainforest. The city gets a lot of rain, with two rainy seasons a year from August to December and February to June, with the heaviest periods of rain. The city experiences a high rate of lightning strikes and floods.

  1. Owino Market
  2. Rubaga Cathedral (Saint Mary’s Cathedral)
  3. Uganda National Mosque (a.k.a. the Gaddafi Mosque)
  4. Makerere University
  5. Kabaka’s Palace
  6. Kasubi Tombs
  1. Uganda Reptile Village
  2. Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe
  3. Basilica of the Uganda Martyrs
  4. The Uganda National Museum
  5. Ba’hai Temple
  6. National Botanical Gardens
  7. Lake Victoria
  8. The Equator

Owino Market

Owino Market is a chaotic, yet organized marketplace, where you can find unique souvenirs, beautiful African print fabrics, and just about anything, you can think of. There are all types of second hand clothing and shoes in very good condition, and tailors abound for any alterations you may need.

While you are waiting, you can sample the local cuisine or browse the many strange offerings. As the market is usually congested and busy, it is an ideal environment for thieves and pickpockets. Be wary.

The Equator

The Equator:A visit to Uganda offers you the unique opportunity to stand on the equator and be in two hemispheres at once. Uganda is one of the few countries in the world where the equator crosses through it.

The best equator landmark in Uganda is found on the Kampala-Masaka Road, where you will find a few restaurants and craft/souvenir shops as well. Other equator markers in Uganda are found in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Slums

Kampala is one big slum. According to a report from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, 49% to 64% of the total urban population live in slums. According to the ministry report, slums are defined by the following outstanding characteristics like:

  1. Inadequate access to safe water,
  2. inadequate access to sanitation and other infrastructure,
  • Insecure residential status,
  1. Poor structural quality of housing,
  2. High rates/levels of noise, crime, drug abuse, immorality (pornography and prostitution) and alcoholism
  3. High HIV/AIDS prevalence and
  • Overcrowding

These areas attract a high density of low- income earners and or unemployed persons, with low levels of literacy. It is also an area where houses are in environmentally fragile lands e.g. wetlands considerations. The report gave a total of 1.58 million people to 2.1 million people as slum residents in Uganda.

This has amongst other reasons has been brought about by the increasing rate at which people are leaving rural areas and coming to work and live in the city. At national level, the report adds that there is a backlog of about 1.6 million units of which 211,000 units are in the urban areas. Results from the 2005/06 National Household Survey indicate that muzigo (tenements), which is the typical housing structure for slum area accounted for 64.3% of the dwelling units in Kampala.

Home to some of the most vulnerable populations in Uganda, People who live in these areas are simple and offer carefree interaction. Many of the children are forced into work, some just selling sweets on the street, from a young age. Receiving an education is not on the radar for many of them. It can amount to just USD 30 to send one child to school for a term which price is the same price for a meal and drink in developed countries.

The climate in Kampala is described as that of a tropical rainforest. The city gets a lot of rain, with two rainy seasons a year from August to December and February to June, with the latter seeing the heaviest periods of rain. The city experiences a high rate of lightning strikes and floods.

Some of the major slums in Kampala are Bwaise, Kisenyi, Katwe, Katanga, and Ki-mombasa

Ki-mombasa

Publicly known as where sex is sold 24-7 is located about four miles north of Kampala on Bombo Road in Bwaise. Ki-Mombasa derives its name from Mombasa, Kenya’s coastal city. The current slum was a wetland until the late 1950s when people started settling there. In early 1960s, however, the place attracted two sex workers, Kasifa and Nakawunde, who often travelled to Mombasa for commercial sex before returning “with lots of money”. With the “wealth” from prostitution, the duo managed to construct several mud-and-wattle houses and became celebrities across Bwaise. Hence the name Ki-Mombasa.

Ki-Mombasa is where filth, unemployment, prostitution, drug abuse and theft are the order of the day. However, unlike Mombasa, which is a centre of tourism, Ki-Mombasa is not the kind of place you would like to visit. Occupied by a mix of Rwandese, Kenyans, Lugbara, Banyankore, Baganda and Congolese, Ki-Mombasa covers about eight acres with a 4,000 population, according to the LCI chairman, Noordin Ssentamu. Many women say they are attracted to the slum because of its easy access to the city, while men cited cheap alcohol and sex workers.

Save for metal fabrication and a few retail shops, prostitution and bars are the leading sources of income in Ki-Mombasa. Older women babysit sex workers’ children to earn a living.

Dilapidated mud-and-wattle houses are what dominate Ki-Mombasa. For most houses, the roofs have caved in and the walls are crumbling, yet rent is not that cheap! Finding latrines is a nightmare. The only two operational public latrines were built in 2007 by charity organisations, AMREF and Water Aid UK. Residents have to part with sh200 to use them, somewhat a high fee compared to their incomes. There are hardly a dozen private latrines for the 4,000 people.

Congestion has made it difficult to construct new latrines. A wetland, the area floods whenever it rains and latrines overflow, flooding into houses. No wonder all beds in Ki-Mombasa are placed on raised brick platforms.

Whenever it floods, parents hire kanyamas (muscular men) to carry children to hilly places that are considered safe. In Ki-Mombasa, one can easily spend weeks without bathing due to the absence of bathrooms. Many use verandas at night or find dark corners.

The women suffer the most. When we get out to bathe, over a dozen naughty children gather around to watch them. Drug addicts also enjoy looking at women who are bathing and they can’t bathe fast they can even rape them. The problem is worsened by insufficient clean water.

Ki-Mombasa has only one public tap where residents are charged sh100 for a 20-litre, three times more expensive than it costs in planned Kampala settlements like Kololo. Private vendors charge exorbitantly, between sh200 and sh400 per 20 litres.

The high prices have forced the majority of residents to fetch water from Namakula, a well in a neighbouring zone. Sadly, it is one of the protected spring wells that are contaminated with faecal matter, according to the 2010 sector review report by the Ministry of Water and Environment.

Despite its filth, Ki-Mombasa has remained a top destination for men seeking the services of sex workers. Hundreds frequent the slum daily to buy cheap sex workers. over 500 sex workers operate in Ki-Mombasa.

There exists two types of sex workers. There’s a section of emaciated sex workers who use vulgar words at their disposal and not even the presence of their children deters them. These emaciated ones make up the faction of HIV positive sex workers. Devoid of hope, they offer sex at any amount low as sh1,000 per minute, at any hour with or without protection. Some of their teenage children as young as 15 years have already been initiated into the practice.

Another group involves older prostitutes. These ones offer their services in a “professional” way. Most are between 35-40 years, some with wrinkled faces. Unlike their younger counterparts, these ones don’t rob their clients. They offer longer hours for shorter pay and aim at the client’s satisfaction.

At night, the women lay their children under beds as they conduct their business. The tiny rooms in the brothels have several beds, meaning that at least four couples share one room. If it’s a busy night, one bed can accommodate two couples.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the increase in the area. A nurse at Kawempe Health Centre IV, a few metres from Ki-Mombasa, revealed that they receive over 1,000 patients with STDs every month.

In November alone, the centre received 1,600 patients, 54% of whom were women. HIV/AIDS and gonorrhoea topped the list of STDs in the area.

Prostitution has also birthed a new style of theft in Ki-Mombasa called Akabagiya. Preplanned by sex workers, Akabagiya is where goons strangle a person from behind, forcing him to let go of his money, phones and other belongings.

Bwaise

Bwaise is a slum made up of four zones but the name Bwaise overshadows the other zones which include Makerere, Mbogo zone and others. It also has three parishes which include Bwaise I, Bwaise II and Bwaise III.  Bwaise is one of the poorest areas in the city of Kampala best known for flooding and waterborne diseases during heavy rains and this makes it relatively hard for one to cross from one point to another unless carried by those who know the road well.

The origin of the name Bwaise emanated from the death of an innocent peasant who was subjected to death during the time of Kabaka (king) Mutesa I but by the time the truth was uncovered it was late to save his life. Those who were convicted were always sentenced to death at this place. Since then, the place came to be named Bwaise.

Floods cut off many roads including the main road (Nabweru Road) that passes through Bwaise and connects to Nansana. The standstill almost takes a period of two to three hours depending on the magnitude of the rains. Water logging in Bwaise has led to the loss of lives, especially those who try to cross after heavy rains. Due to lack of proper urban planning, it has grown into a commercial, industrial and residential township with poor infrastructure. Schools are in a sorry state due to flooding. Flooding has led to the closure of some schools as pupils cannot access the classes. Much as there are other private schools, they are expensive for most residents.

Due to the too much floods, Ugandans adopted a saying of “Water is life if you’ve never stayed in Bwaise.”

Some of the points of interest in Bwaise are the Kampala–Gulu Highway that passes through the middle of the neighborhood in a North-South direction, Kawempe Division Headquarters, Bwaise Central Market and Kalerwe Market, the major sources of fresh food and fruits for Kampala City, Outspan School Bwaise sponsored by the Northamptonshire Scout Troupe in the United Kingdom,  a branch of Centenary Bank, the Kampala Northern Bypass Highway, intersects with the Kampala-Gulu Highway in Bwaise and the Lubigi wetland has its origins in the swamps in and around Bwaise.

The slum is characterized by prostitution and so many crimes related to drug abuse such as the increasing levels of iron bar hit men who always torture and kill boda boda riders, especially during the evening and early morning hours and kabadiya implementers.

However, groups of youth marijuana smokers orient about life in Bwaise, refuting some of the allegations like everyone smoking marijuana is a criminal, murderers and fore-runners of kabadiya implementers. Akabadiya is a strangulation method where a robber flicks his arm by your throat as his partner goes ahead to empty your pockets of all your belongings. They also talk about about their youth projects that are cash-strapped of start-up capital.

Bwaise has quite a number of black spots because there are higher chances of one losing either property or sustaining injuries. Most known black spot is Kimumbasa well known for its drug addicts and prostitution. Others include Katoogo, Litre Litre Bar area, Kimwanyi area and areas around Ku satu stage fly over known for pick pocketing. 

Alot has been done to ensure that the security is enhanced through regular trainings by the police and community policing technique as a way of curbing crime and Currently, main Nabweru Road that connects to Nansana is under construction.
However, there are questions whether the upgrading of this road will solve the flooding problems in the area that has been an issue for years.

Bwaise has one health centre that is Kawala Grade One health centre where people complain about only getting drug prescriptions as there are no drugs.
However; the people in this area close to Mulago Referral Hospital, Kawempe branch and the old Mulago Hospital.

katwe

Katwe is home of African ingenuity, an area located just in the middle of the city, Kampala along Entebbe highway. It’s a locale of metal craftsmen, technicians, fabricators, carpenters, car assemblers, and all kinds of businesses.

Katwe consists of two big parishes namely Katwe 1 which has about 10 zones and Katwe 2 which happens to have at least 9 zones.  Katwe 1 is the heart of the whole of Katwe, it’s a commercial place, were all kinds of businesses and activities take place, however Katwe 2 is slum-residential place and where the workers reside.

It derived its name from the leader of all the wise men and workers at Katwe. He was called Katwe Ssempuuya and Kabaka Mutesa 2 (the then president) often visited him to know more information from around the world. Before anything was passed in Parliament, “Katwe radio” had to know first, therefore people stormed Katwe in order to seek information about the political situation of the country, Katwe radio in reality never existed, but just because of the politicians and the wise men that emerged in the area, they were updated and were aware of current affairs of the country and the whole world.

Katwe has a high crime rate. According to Ssalongo Luyombya, the area defence Chairman, almost all the thieves who snatch and steal people in Kampala’s traffic jams in the evenings and mornings are from Katwe 2. They blame all crimes mostly because of the drugs the youth use here, they take and smoke a lot of intoxicated substances that change their minds negatively, hence leading to high crime rate. Drugs are mostly taken here by the footballers, prostitutes, boxers and other youth. However, they also partly blame the high crime rate on the youth who move from villages to town, and end up all there since they know it’s where business is fast and is availed”.

However, Katwe has greatly changed, the whole place has developed faster, and almost all feeder roads have been tarmacked-thanks to the Belgians who helped with the roads in our place, back then trenches were made of soil and were not well-channelled, but today, almost all trenches have been built with concrete and are well-channeled. Buildings were few earlier on, but apparently, many flats have been built and are many,”

Katwe is home to many headquarters of different banks and many companies. The headquarters of Equity Bank is found in Katwe, headquarters of Finance Trust bank is also located in Katwe as are the branches of Stanbic bank, Barclays bank, FINCA Uganda Limited, Pride Microfinance Limited, Warid Telecom.

Different political ideologies have failed Katwe because some people who condemn what others is right and we end up doing something negative or nothing just because of that, for example, the Belgians were willing to develop a football field into a modern stadium with seats and everything, but just because it is on the land of the market, the vendors actually thought, the Belgians were trying to steal it, and nothing went on hence missing out with the golden chance.

According to Ssalongo Luyombya, jobs were few and hard to get, but right now many companies have come-up with many job opportunities, welders, carpenters and different businesses emerging, some youth have tried to indulge themselves in to them.

He also says, loan schemes have also expanded their work to Katwe and his has greatly affected the place positively in terms of capital for their businesses. Schools and banks have also come up hence increased literacy. Schools, banks and clinics have also increased.

Due to the innovations in katwe, it led to an American biographical drama film called the queen of katwe starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, and Madina Nalwanga.The film depicts the life of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl living in a slum in Katwe. She learns to play chess and becomes a Womn Candidate Master after her victories at World Chess Olympiads.

Katanga

Katanga slum is located in Kampala, Uganda, 2 kilometres from the city centre and the slum has now existed for over 25 years. A recent (2008) census found that Katanga has slightly more than 3,000 make shift, temporary rooms that accommodate an average of 2 adults and 5 children. This means over 20,000 people live in the condensed community.

As Katanga is located close to the city centre the cost of renting is expensive. This leaves families very little money left over to provide for themselves. Some may have inherited their home but most have left their villages with the hope that being in the centre will lead to more job opportunities. many can’t afford medical expenses, school fees and only have enough to feed the family a basic diet.

Katanga is situated on a swamp land and so has many sewer drainage channels weaving between homes. There is no protection from these channels, containing waste water and solids from the hostels surrounding and from the residents of Katanga themselves. Most of the drainage channels are extremely stagnant, harbouring various water-borne diseases that often affect the locals, including mosquitoes carrying malaria.

kisenyi

The mention of Kisenyi in Central Division, Kampala, paints an image of a crime-tainted and desolate place with squalid habitations that house the city’s poor.
But the current towering shopping malls with bustling businesses, which have grown over time, gives the area an impressive outlook, making it one of the city’s fastest growing slums.
With its proximity to the city centre, Kisenyi has turned into a magnet of potential businesses.
The growing number of transport businesses and shops, makes it a beehive of activity.
The place is inhabited by migrants like the Baganda, Acholi, Batooro and Somalis, among other communities. However, as the pressure of city space escalates, real estate developers have since considered investing in Kisenyi.

The strategic location of Kisenyi is also another factor for its development. The slum is surrounded by business communities.
St Balikuddembe Market (Owino) is the biggest market facility in Kampala. The facility’s administration puts the number of vendors at 10,000.
However, there isn’t enough space for the vendors to store their merchandise hence some have since resorted to renting shops in Kisenyi.
Usafi Market, which is located in Mengo-Kisenyi, has also increased the value of businesses property.
The recent announcement by the management of Owino market to expand the facility to Kisenyi is also likely to increase business opportunities in the area.

Despite the development, the Kisenyi is still grappling with a myriad of challenges, including shortage of toilet facilities, high crime rate and poor housing units in some communities.
In 2014, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) unveiled a five-year strategic plan for Kampala hinged on laying a foundation for city transformation towards achieving the vision of a vibrant, attractive and sustainable city.
According to the plan, KCCA was supposed to address city planning to direct organised development, guide infrastructure development and thereby promote socio-economic growth.
The focus would be on among others, completion and implementation of detailed spatial physical development plans, spatial planning and upgrade of slums.
The areas that had been scheduled for slum upgrade are Kisenyi, Kinyolo (Central Division), Katanga, Bwaise (Kawempe), Nsambya, Kikuba Mutwe and Kansaga (Makindye), Kasovo, Kawaala (Rubaga) and Kinawataka (Nakawa).
However, the report shows that nothing has been done yet. The absence spatial planning has since seen more slums sprout, worsening the city’s planning problem.
The perennial flooding is another problem some communities are still grappling with.
The flooding usually affects residents in mud-walled dwellings, with some being washed away.

Kisenyi Health Centre IV, which is supposed to serve the surrounding communities is overwhelmed by the number of patients. It is demoralised by drug stock-outs caused by the overwhelming number of patients who cannot afford to buy medicine from private health facilities.
According to the 2014 National Population and Housing Census, Kampala’s day time population stands at 4 million while its resident population stands at 1.5 million people. By 2050, the population of Kampala is projected to hit 12 million, according to a recent World Bank report. Such predictions, according to experts, paint a pale picture of the future of the city unless government embarks on strategic planning.

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