Slumming it

No access to any clean water or toilets, open sewage flowing through the streets, rubbish bags of human excrement strewn everywhere – that’s just a very brief description of life in the Kampala slums where some 700,000 people live.

We had a horrendous walk through a pre-WaterAid intervention slum yesterday and I could barely believe that what I was seeing was even real.

It had rained heavily the night before and without any proper drainage system, rain water and sewage quickly started to build up and flooded homes.

People had to wade through the filthy, disease-infested water to get to their homes, while children splashed and played around in the water, oblivious to the dangers.

And when I say homes, these are no more than a rough, makeshift shack, from clay bricks or wood, and a corrugated iron roof.

The most horrific thing was the number of plastic bags I saw. This was horrific because they were actually ‘flying toilets’. Some people have no choice but to do their business in a bag and then they just sling it out their home, to land wherever.

I had my walking boots on (which are now caked in a dry, orange mud) and I still found walking through the area disgusting but the majority of people didn’t even have any shoes on!

The main water source in this slum was from an underground spring. Sounds clean and refreshing right?! But all the sewage saturates through the ground and contaminates the water. There’s a huge risk of cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

The post-WaterAid intervention slum we visited after was much better.

I met Willy, the proud caretaker of a pre-paid water meter installed in the grounds of his home two years ago. He told me how he’s very happy and that this simple device has changed their lives – they don’t have to drink dirty water anymore and no longer get ill.

People use tokens to come and collect their clean water and there was also a proper drainage system installed in this area too which stopped homes from flooding.

There are still improvements to be made here, but it was great to see that WaterAid has already made such a difference.

After a tough day, we let our hair down with an amazing African cultural dance show on the night.

We even ended the night dancing on the stage, although I noticed when they saw us hopeless Muzungos (white people) trying out some cultural dancing, the music quickly switched to Rihanna!

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