Sewage Crisis Hits Uganda’s Emerging Towns

sewage crisis hits ugandas emerging towns
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A growing sanitation crisis is emerging in Uganda’s rapidly developing urban areas, particularly in townships that lack proper sewage systems. The absence of such systems, coupled with population growth, is creating challenges for individuals like Mary Mukasa from Mukono, who struggles to manage her septic tank.

Mukasa’s situation highlights the need for a non-sewered sanitation solution, involving the emptying of latrines and septic tanks. However, the lack of nearby fecal sludge management facilities exacerbates the problem, with the nearest plant located 35 kilometers away in Lubigi, Kampala. The cost and availability of trucks for emptying septic tanks add to the issue.

Table: Challenges in Sewage Management

Challenge Description
Lack of proper sewage systems Rapidly growing urban areas lack adequate sewage infrastructure.
Distance to fecal sludge management facility The nearest facility is often located far from townships, increasing costs and delays.
High costs for emptying septic tanks Transporting waste over long distances results in high fees, making it inaccessible for many residents.
Reluctance of service providers Service providers are often unwilling to operate beyond certain boundaries, leaving areas underserved.
Improper disposal in open spaces and wetlands Residents resort to manual emptying and improper disposal, further exacerbating environmental issues.


Jafari Matovu, President of Uganda Emptiers Ltd, explains that the extended travel distances and traffic congestion contribute to the high costs of emptying septic tanks. Service providers are often hesitant to operate in outlying areas due to the lack of suitable locations for fecal sludge treatment and disposal.

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Eng. Felix Twinomucunguzi, Assistant Commissioner of the Sewerage Sanitation Division in the Ministry of Water and Environment’s Urban Department, emphasizes that the sewage management challenge extends to numerous fast-growing townships. He highlights the difficulties faced by companies in the oil sector, which must transport their waste over long distances to reach proper disposal facilities.

Sewage Challenges in Rapidly Growing Towns

Sewage Challenge Description
Lack of sewage infrastructure Many fast-growing townships lack proper sewage systems, posing sanitation challenges for residents.
Long-distance waste transport Companies in various sectors face the burden of transporting waste over significant distances for disposal.
High expenses for sludge disposal The costs involved in transporting sludge to distant facilities make proper disposal financially burdensome for many.
Absence of infrastructure in outlying areas Areas not immediately associated with the oil-rich regions lack the necessary sewage infrastructure.


To address these challenges, the government is working on establishing treatment plants in oil-rich areas. However, the question remains concerning areas that do not fall within the immediate oil-rich regions. The ministry is assessing and grouping small towns into clusters to facilitate fecal sludge treatment infrastructure and collection services, aiming to reduce transport distances.

Eng. Twinomucunguzi also highlights the importance of regional clusters in handling the sewage problem. At an event where the Global Green Growth Institute and the Korea International Cooperation Agency launched a Fecal Sludge Treatment Facility Feasibility Study and Designs for Mukono municipality, he pointed out the government’s efforts to secure funding for local treatment facilities.

The completion of the feasibility study for Mukono is a significant step towards establishing its own fecal sludge treatment facility. This facility is expected to have a total treatment capacity of 400m3 per day and can be implemented in two phases at a cost of 37.7 billion Shillings. It is anticipated to generate annual revenues from sources like biogas and irrigation water.

However, challenges remain, including securing the designated land for the facility. Mukono Municipality Mayor, Erisa Mukasa Nkoyoyo, acknowledges these hurdles and underscores the pressing need for a functioning treatment facility.

Table: Steps Towards Solving the Sewage Crisis

Steps Taken Description
Feasibility study for a local treatment facility The study paves the way for the establishment of a treatment facility in Mukono.
Expected treatment capacity The facility aims to treat up to 400m3 of waste per day, addressing the growing sewage issue.
Potential sources of revenue Biogas and irrigation water could generate annual revenues, making the facility sustainable.
Challenges in securing land and funding Acquiring land and securing funds remain significant hurdles in establishing the facility.


Mary Oyuru, Principal Engineer at National Water and Sewage Corporation, emphasizes the importance of connecting households in townships to sewer lines as the ultimate solution. This approach requires forward-thinking urban planning that integrates treatment facilities and sewage networks into the development of new townships.

By adopting such practices, urban areas can proactively address sewage management challenges as they expand and prepare for the future.

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