By Godfrey Kakande
The ululations and celebrations which had reached fever-pitch at the beginning of July are now slowly rescinding –as the new cities take root. Among the cities which became operational on 1st July 2020, is Fort Portal tourism city that lies in South Western Uganda at the foot hills of Mt Rwenzori. Before its elevation to city status, Fort Portal Municipality was renowned for its cleanliness and organized settlements. The Uganda Slum dwellers Association while profiling slums for the World Bank funded Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) project, failed to gazette any place in Fort Portal as a true slum because many of these places sampled had social services extending to the places.
A city is defined as a large human settlement. It can be defined as a permanent and densely settled place with administratively defined boundaries whose members work primarily on non-agricultural tasks. Cities generally have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, and communication. (Wikipedia)
To publicize and sensitize the communities on the City, Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC) a leading research, advocacy and community development organization that has supported many development programs of the area recently organized a zoom debate with a theme ‘the City I want’. The discussants all agreed that the city we want should be one with social services including but not limited to water, sanitation, health and education services among the many.
However, a transact walk around the city reveals that social services are still poor and some city dwellers still use contaminated water for home use. In the 2020/21 national budget, the access to safe water in urban areas was reported at 79%. However, this is in contrast to many urban places who do not have safe water coverage. One such place is Nyakabale village, Bukwali, East Division (Central Division) Fort Portal Tourism city located less than 5kms from the city center where most households fetch water from an open source located downstream. Above the water source, there are many crowded homes whose affluent from toilets and running water all end up in the water that the population here uses. The population using this well cannot survive water bone diseases and the effects to their health. Below are pictures of the water in Bukwali.
It is therefore imperative to note that as stakeholders and the people of Fort Portal celebrate the coming of the city the leadership of the city is being challenged to address inadequacies in service delivery and ensure the population has better services. As an advocacy organization, we call upon the duty bearers to address the issue urgently in order for the citizens to enjoy improved livelihoods.
As we approach national elections, the citizens should demand answers from their leaders on the unfulfilled promises. They should task those seeking political office at all levels to prioritize service delivery since it directly affects their well-being
The author is a policy analyst currently working as the acting Finance officer-KRC