Habitat for Humanity Uganda (HFHU) in partnership with Buganda Kingdom have started building decent homes for the vulnerable Ugandans living in the 18 counties of the kingdom.
In August 2018, HFHU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Buganda Kingdom which served as a framework agreement for the cooperation between the two partners to offer among others affordable housing, clean energy and water as well as conserve the environment through climate change mitigation approach in the counties of the kingdom.
And last year, the two partners kicked off a five-year ‘Decent living campaign’ which aims at improving the lives of vulnerable families through improved decent shelter, hygiene and sanitation, access to safe water and improved livelihoods.
The first decent home under this campaign was built in Katabi, in Busiro county. It was officially handed over to Abubakar Ssentongo by the Kabaka of Buganda Ronald Muwenda Mutebi during his 26th coronation in July 2019.
Now, HFHU and the kingdom have again embarked on setting up more decent homes for the Kabaka subjects in Mawokota county in Mpigi district. By the end of december this year, two houses will be completed and ready for use by recipients.
Currently, both houses are on foundation stage.
One of the beneficiaries, Josephine Nabwegamu, resident of Nabitete village, Luwala parish says she cannot thank Buganda Kingdom and HFHU enough for thinking about an old woman like her by giving her a free nice house.
“My welfare is not good at all. At first I had a house but it was destroyed by heavy rains. Fortunately, wellwishers gave me a hand and put up this shelter for me. I had 15 children but 13 of them died and the two who remained are also not doing well, all of them are sick. Now I live on the mercy of people,” The 74-year old widow who lives in a ramshackle hut-like house made up of dry banana leaves states.
Ms Nabwegamu who stays with her two grandchildren says she was identified and selected for the project by the Mawokoto county chief Kayima Gabriel Kabonge.
“I had gone to the hospital to pick drugs for one of my grandchildren who is living with HIV/AIDS and that’s when one of the people working with Kayima engaged me about the project. Kayima and officials from HFHU came to my home and saw that that I was living in a very sorry state. They took all the requirements they needed and a few months later, they told me that they were going to build for me a house,” Nabwegamu who couldn’t contain her tears of joy discloses.
“I pray to God that He rewards Buganda and HFHU abundantly.”
Diana Mpande, an official at HFHU says they decided to work with Buganda in order to improve the wellbeing of the people in the kingdom.
She says by this time, they would have built more houses but they were affected by the negative impacts of Covid-19, a pandemic which has brought the whole world on its knees.
“Our campaign relies on well wishers and corporate organisations and with the outbreak of Covid-19, they were all affected in terms of funds. So what we do now we assess the vulnerable families and we keep the records. When funds come in we go back and build decent homes for them,” says Ms Mpande.
Another beneficiary, Margaret Nakiganda, resident of Butooro village, Kiryambidde parish currently lives in a substandard house with a leaking roof with her four children, four grandchildren and three relatives.
The 50 year old widow says she always wanted to sleep in a decent home but did not have the capability.
“I live in fear that heavy rains can put my home down any time. When it rains we don’t sleep since the house gets filled with water. Almost the whole roof leaks. I have sick children, one has sickle cell and another one has asthma. They need to have a better life.However right now I have hope that my life is going to change for the better since HFHU and Buganda kingdom are in the process of setting up for me a good house,” Ms Nakiganda states.
” I couldn’t believe it when they told me that I was among the beneficiaries of the campaign. I wondered how a person can come from no where and builds you a house but now I believe my eyes because, my new house is already under construction.”
Mr Kabonge, the Mawokota County Chief asserts that when Kabaka Mutebi appointed him and his deputies to the positions, they started to visit all residents (house to house) in the county so it was easy for his team to identify the vulnerable Kabaka subjects who needed to benefit from the campaign.
“…That’s how we discovered Nakiganda and Nabwegamu. There standards of living are so terrible. For Namaganda apart from living in a substand house, she is looking after her relatives of which some are suffering from sickle cell and asthma. Even Nabwegamu’s story is not so different from that of Namaganda so we found them deserving. I want to thank HFHU for partnering with the kingdom to better lives of Ugandans,” Mr Kabonge said.
“What we are doing now is to give people hope. You know when people lose hope they cannot work so by building for them free houses, we are changing their lives and this gives them hope.”
The homes built by HFHU come with a ventilated pit latrine, shower stall and a 3,000 liter water tank.
On the other hand, the Buganda Kingdom Minister for Lands, agriculture, trade, cooperatives and community service (Bulungibwansi) Owek. Mariam Nkalubo Mayanja lauded HFHU for making the campaign goals achievable.
Owek Nkalubo says they plan to build 10 decent houses each year in different counties of the kingdom.
“Its now two years of partnership with HFHU. We started with Busiro and now we are in Mawokota. We focus on the vulnerable people who need help in terms of housing. And for a person to benefit from this campaign, he/she must possess a piece of land with its legal documents,” she reveals.
“We call upon all capable people who can join us in this important project to step in so that we can achieve more success.”
Housing issue still a very big challenge in Uganda:
According to Irene Gwokyalya, the Commissioner Housing Development and Estate Management in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, the country is grappling with inadequate housing in terms of quality and quantity both in rural and urban areas. This means there is a housing deficit of two million units.
“By 2022, Uganda’s population is projected to be about 45 million people. With the current household size of five persons, the housing need resulting from population growth will be about three million housing units.
On the other hand, 4.5 million people are living in substandard housing.
The reality is clear – the lack of affordable quality housing compromises people’s health and development opportunities which perpetuates the poverty cycle in the country.
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