Uganda: Self Help - Residents Clean Bugembe Town
New Vision (Kampala)
Posted to the web March 1, 2007
Charles Kakamwa, Kampala

RESIDENTS of Bugembe Township in Jinja district have embarked on a self-help campaign aimed at cleaning filthy areas to avert a possible outbreak of epidemics such as cholera.

The campaign spearheaded by Bugembe parish LC3 councillor Jackson Mulawa, was launched on Tuesday at Bugembe Health Centre 4, where residents, including children from nearby primary and secondary schools, participated in a cleaning the facility.

They slashed bushy corners of the centre, swept the compound and mopped the wards.

During the exercise, the residents encountered and killed eight snakes, which they found in the overgrown grass along the health centre paths.

Mulawa said he decided to re-introduce self-help projects (bulungibwansi) to encourage people to improve their welfare instead of waiting for leaders as the situation in the community gets more appaling and risky to their life.

He cited Bugembe Health Centre 4, which, he said, despite being a sub-district health facility in a densely-populated urban centre, the sanitary is poor. Its toilets are blocked and the grass is overgrown.

"I was recently touched when an expectant mother who had come to seek ante-natal care at the centre was bitten by a snake as she was going to the latrines," said James Kigomba, an anaesthetist at the health centre.

"Although we get money for cleaning, it comes late and it is not enough.

We do not have a permanent cleaner, but just get casual labourers who work on part time basis whenever we get some money."

Justin Balizindwire, a dispenser, remarked that he did not know how much was sent to the centre for cleaning, adding that they were also concerned about the situation.

Safina Nabirye, who participated in the cleaning exercise urged patients to contribute some little money towards the cleaning of the centre because funding from the Government was insufficient.

"Since the administrators claim they get little funding, we can resolve to collect sh200 from each patient. This should be purposely for maintaining proper sanitation and should be accounted for," she said

Rukia Timugiibwa, another participant, complained that she was not satisfied with the sanitation state of the health centre. "We hear the centre gets money to clean the compound, but we don't see its use," she said

Mulawa said he plans to mobilise residents on other things such as improvement of sanitation in their homes to prevent illnesses caused by poor sanitation.
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