By Constantine Odongo, Gabriel Iguma and Bianca Kyomugisha
Kampala Capital City Authority has introduced Kampala City Yange Initiative, a model aimed at keeping the city clean through community participation. For the start, the directors and stakeholders visit an area and, with help from the community clean up the area of filth and rubbish.
The latest exercise took place in the New Taxi Park, where drivers and passengers where sensitized on the importance of regularly cleaning where they work.
Isaac Rucci, the director in cahrge of the City Yange Initiative, says the campaign focuses on changing peoples mindset in regard to cleanliness. As the exercise went on, other local leaders joined Rucci in placing stickers on taxis, calling on the operators to spread the cleanliness gospel.
KCCA is replicating a model, which has seen much success in the neioghbouring Rwanda. Every last Saturday of the month between 7:00am and 12:00pm, restaurants and markets are closed, public and private transportation is limited and business comes to a standstill because people engage themselves in cleanliness excercises. Frank Kweronda, an engineer who has participated in such an event in Kigali says the day is also intended to build community involvement and strengthen cohesion. “One such a benefit is that people can access authorities to articulate their needs and voice opinions on various issues,” say Kweronda.
But can such a model work in Uganda?
A number of people asked on Facebook, email and twitter revealed different perceptions of the model. A man who only identifies himself as Julius says bulungi bwansi existed in Uganda before kingdoms were banned in 1966. “People have lots of work to do,” Julius argues. “Even in Rwanda, it is done under military supervision. People are dragged out of their houses and the police ensure all participate. So it is not out of patriotism, but duress.” Julius thinks Ugandans are used to to too much freedom that if it is imposed on them, they would demonstrate.
According to Kabowa, the Rwandan model has been replicated in Fort Portal. “Bodaboda riders engage in community policing against dumping rubbish anywhere. If you drop a piece of paper in the sight of a bodaboda rider, they will force you to pick it and dump it in a rubbish bin,” he explains.
Nantume Lucy thinks the model has succeeded in Rwanda because people still love and believe in their government, unlike in Uganda.
But Gerge Kyaboona disagrees. “Bulungi Bwansi is not a new thing in Uganda. I would encourage KCCA to partner with LC1 leadership who in turn will mobilise their people and ensure that the clean-my-city model is embedded into their own initiatives.”
“When I was a child, the village folk would reserve one Saturday in a month for bulungi-bwansi, under the cordination of the RC1 chairman,” adds Anthony Rucukye.
However, he disagrees with Kyaboona on whether it can work in Kampala today. “It is not sustainable because it is a top-down approach. It risks remaining a ‘publicity stunt’, where the mayor and the executive director appear in gumboots, carrying a broom and pass through an area, supported by people that ultimately expect facilitation,” wrote Rucukye in an email.
“How do you expect me to clean on Saturday when my area has no garbage skip. Can an you believe Munyonyo, Buziga, Makidye and Muyega all depend on a skip in Nsambya? You have to first manage some simple things before moving on to the more complex ones,” reasons Ronald Kazibwe.
Sandra Natukunda, an official from the KCCA public relations office, said the project was still facing challenges, since it is still a new innovation. She also commended those who have taken part in the exercise so far and encouraged more to come on board. “Soon, every last Saturday of the month will be a public holiday in Uganda, so as to have everyone actively involved in the exercise,” she said. Sandra said the exercise would resume next month.