KALANGALA. Absence of proper lavatory facilities on several islands in Kalangala District is forcing residents to defecate in the lake, posing numerous health risks to the islanders.
According to Mr Edward Bugimbi, the Kalangala District health inspector, Mazinga Sub-county alone, which is home to more than 10,000 islanders, lacks a single pit-latrine and all residents combined produce five tonnes of human waste every day, which is released directly into the lake.
Mazinga Sub-county comprises landing sites of Nkose, Katooke, Kyeseerwa, Nkose, Lugala and Miyana.
“A normal person produces 500 grams of faeces daily. Now, 10,000 people occupying those landing sites produce five tonnes of excreta and all is disposed of into the lake. Consequently, it is the same water they drink and use for other domestic purposes. This justifies the reason why these people have the highest number of bilharzia, dysentery and other tropical disease cases,” Mr Bugimbi said during an interview at the weekend.
Mr Bugimbi said all landing sites without pit-latrines are a threat to health since all people living on them are victims of tropical disease outbreaks due to poor hygiene.
“It (lack of pit-latrines) is the biggest challenge landing sites are facing and many people there do not want to construct their own pit -latrines thinking it is government’s obligation to construct them. They need to change their mind-sets and save lives,” he said.
A recent report by Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and the Kalangala Human Rights Defenders revealed that people to pit-latrine ratio in Kalangala is at one latrine per landing site. Kalangala has a population of 54,000 people and 92 gazetted landing sites. However, majority of the landing sites lack proper waste disposal management systems.
However, residents at Nkose, one of the affected landing sites, told Daily Monitor that they would have constructed several pit-latrines, but they have always been hindered by politicians who had promised to build pit-latrines in the area.
“We had started our own initiatives and these politicians came in. They diverted us and never fulfilled their promises,” Mr Samuel Makumbi, one of the residents, said. Recently, Kalangala District leaders threatened to close all landing sites without pit-latrines.
Like it is the case at many landing sites across the country, access to clean toilets and water is still a luxury. The few existing places of convenience at landing sites are privately owned and it costs one Shs200 to use a pit-latrine. If one is to ease themselves five times a day, it would require them to pay Shs1,000 to use a toilet.
A 2010 UN habitat brochure on the water and sanitation initiative at landing sites on Lake Victoria, found that 76 per cent of the population lacks access to sustainable supplies of safe drinking water; 72 lack access to improved sanitation whereas less than five per cent of the garbage is being collected by the local authorities.
Water Aid Uganda recent findings indicate that about 26,000 children die every year from diarrhoea, which is caused by drinking unsafe water and poor sanitation in Uganda.
According to a World Bank Water Sanitation Programme 2012 report, poor sanitation is costing the country at least Shs389b annually. The money lost in three years can meet the cost of building the latrines the country needs, which stands at Shs1.3trillion.