In June this year, NTV, RwandAir, Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) and Monitor Publications Limited (MPL) launched a community cleaning initiative under the name ‘Umuganda’. This activity is an extension of the Rwandese initiative. Regardless of skepticism from the public over what has been deemed an act of imitation, this initiative has continued and last Saturday, staff of NTV, RwandAir and MPL descended upon Kisenyi for a morning of cleaning.
Kisenyi is the biggest urban slum in Kampala characterized by heaps of garbage and over flowing sewers right next to shanties which the largest percentage of the slum population call home. “Through Umuganda, we are telling Ugandans that we do not need to wait for anyone else to come and make our city cleaner and better, we can do it ourselves. It all starts with behavioral change. We hope to attract as many occupants of Kampala City to join us,” said Collins Mugume, NTV’s Head of Digital and Marketing.
Today close to 80% of Rwandese take part in monthly community work. Successful projects include the building of schools, medical centres and hydroelectric plants as well as rehabilitating wetlands and creating highly productive agricultural plots. The value of Umuganda to the country’s development since 2007 has been estimated at more than US $60 million. “We should not dwell on the name but rather on the notion of this activity which lies in each one doing something to better the environment in which they live. It is not enough to simply clean your home and ignore the sanitation and hygiene of your community. We have a number of people in Kampala suffering from poor hygiene and sanitation related illnesses. We can do something about this,” Mugume says.
The organizers of this activity intend to descend on schools, hospitals, community centers etc. every last Saturday of the month to do community cleaning. Last Saturday, they were at Kisenyi Health Centre IV, a KCCA operated community health center. “We intend to go to as many areas in the community to clean and lend a hand. This time, we are at a hospital, the next one might be at a school or even in the heart of Kampala. Why should we continue to dwell in filth and dirt when we can do something about it ourselves?” Mugume added.
Mugume encouraged the public to heed the call to participate.