Environmental Alert has been implementing the KASTI project in Nakawa and Central Kampala and Mbuya II is one of the target parishes. The KASTI project has built capacity of Village Health Teams (VHTs) and local leaders to advocate for improved service delivery with regards to water, sanitation and hygiene services. Through trainings in lobbying, advocacy, monitoring & evaluation, communication, documentation and accountability among others, the VHTs have acquired the knowledge and skill to enhance their WASH advocacy work. This story shows how the VHTs and local leaders put this knowledge to use. This is a story of how members of the village health team of Mbuya II zone, Nakawa division in Kampala lobbied SOGEA SATOM, a construction firm to line a drainage channel in Mbuya II ward, zone 6.
Just like most slums in Kampala, Mbuya II ward is a victim of poor water drainage systems. Most of the drainage channels are not lined. Residents in Mbuya II dispose of household solid waste and faecal sludge into these channels most especially whenever the rain falls. The run off that flows through these channels carries away the waste down slope. This action however, gives rise to a variety of public health concerns. The solid waste blocks the path way for rain water, thus causing it to divert into the neighbourhood, causing households to flood. The faecal sludge that flows as a mixture with rain water, amplifies the spread of water borne diseases especially to those living near the channel because at one point they make contact with this contaminated water. Those affected include children who play next to the channel, restaurants and households next to the channel.
Disappointed by the status of the drainage channel in zone 6, Bogere Francis Byabagambi, a VHT and Vice Local Council I Chairperson, in late July 2016 reached out to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to help line for them the channel, however, he didn’t get any positive feedback. Regardless of this, he continued with the efforts to search and lobby. Lucky for him, SOGEA SATOM, a construction firm had begun work on constructing sewerage lines passing through Mbuya II ward, zone 6. This contract was awarded to them by National Water and Sewerage Cooperation (NWSC). Since these sewerage lines were to be constructed through zone 6 and the firm doing the work happens to do construction as its daily business, Francis felt this was the right company to lobby from.
In early August 2016, Francis approached Justus Turyayesiima, the Project Site Engineer for SOGEA SATOM and expressed to him his concern of the need to line a drainage channel and requested his company to support them in this initiative. Justus took the matter seriously and discussed it with his senior work colleagues at the head office in Bugolobi.
Since one of the operating principles of SOGEA SATOM is to repair whatever they damage on site and to help community, they arranged a meeting with the community and their leaders. On 8th August 2016, Francis together with Karatunga Aston – the Local Council I Chairperson, and a few other community members and VHTs met with the SOGEA SATOM team to discuss the matter further. After lengthy negotiations, SOGEA SATOM accepted to line half of the drainage channel.
In early October 2016, this agreement was actualized and SOGEA SATOM instructed Dot Services – one of the companies they sub-contract to line half of the channel as per the agreement. As a bonus for the community, a new pipe was installed in a nearby drainage channel to replace the broken culvert that was causing water to stagnate. This process took approximately two (2) weeks and toward the 4th Week of October, the channel had been lined. Engineer Justus mentioned that it cost 4.5 million Ugandan Shillings to do the work and they were happy to help the community and fulfil their cooperate-social responsibility.
Francis was very pleased with the positive response that SOGEA SATOM gave to them and he was very thankful of Environmental Alert for the knowledge and skill that he has acquired and applied as a result of the trainings. In his own words, Francis said ‘Am so grateful to Environmental Alert for training us and giving us knowledge. It is the only organization that works to improve the lives of people in Mbuya II. They taught us how to map stakeholders and lobby from them good sanitation and hygiene facilities. I feel happy that I have used the knowledge they gave me to lobby for something good for my community.’
Francis and other VHTs from Mbuya II pledged that they would continue lobbying different organizations and influential figures to have the other half of the channel lined. In addition, they plan to lobby MTN Uganda for a toilet facility since MTN held a fundraising marathon on 19th November 2016 to raise funds for constructing toilet facilities for the urban poor in Kampala.
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