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Uganda Urban Housing Sector Profile

Uganda Urban Housing Sector Profile

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This profile is a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the structure and functioning of Uganda's urban housing sector.It disclosws its strenghts and weakneses and at the same time makes suggestions on directions for policy intervention.
This profile is a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the structure and functioning of Uganda's urban housing sector.It disclosws its strenghts and weakneses and at the same time makes suggestions on directions for policy intervention.

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Housing and living conditions frequently exert a major
impact on public health and life expectancy in Uganda
as a whole is only 52 years for men and 53 for women,
with no information readily available on rural/urban

As mentioned in the introductory sections,
there is a very high growth rate and need for housing
dwelling in Uganda which necessitates improvement in
the quality and scope of existing infrastructure. Trends
in urban growth cannot be supported by the capacity of
current road networks, waterworks, sewerage, electricity
generation and waste disposal facilities.

Levels of service provision in Kampala and Gulu, along
with other urban centres, difer widely with water and

(Table 23, solid waste disposal services) in Gulu waste
collection is generally informal and uncoordinated by
the Gulu Municipal Council.

In Kampala, garbage collection is currently one of
the most critical services, the quality and coverage
of which has caused public outcry in informal urban
settlements. KCC acknowledges that the amount of
garbage generated is beyond the capacity of the council
to collect and dispose of. Tis is related in part to the
high cost of formal garbage collection services. In 1991,
only 13 per cent of the garbage generated was being
collected, while currently 39 per cent is collected and
transported to land fll sites.12

It is not yet clear if the
current situation represents a signifcant improvement.

Failures in waste management have resulted in many
people using unconventional methods of disposal
including backyard pits where waste is regularly burned,
or polythene bags dumped into streams, roadside water
drainage channels and vacant plots of land.  Tis often
results in the blocking of water drainage channels and
streams and leads to fooding in low-lying areas during
the rainy season. Flooding can also lead to disease
outbreaks (Hepatitis E in particular), extensive property
damage, and infestations of vermin.

Box 15: Case Study: Kyanja patriarch struggles
with utilities provision

Mr. Kizatu is a seventy year old resident of Kyanja
in Kampala, and lives with his wife, 4 children and
7 grandchildren. Four of his grandchildren are
AIDS orphans, and the other three have come for
holidays. He spends on average UGX 10,000 (USD
4.65) per day on maintaining the household, with
the money coming from his farm and his sons’
different jobs.

The home was connected to electricity in 1995,
when he considers electricity to have been more
affordable than at present. As a result of the current
high prices, the family has resorted to only relying
on electricity for lighting. They iron using a charcoal
iron and cook all their meals over a charcoal oven.
Their neighbours also stopped using electricity four
years ago after failing to pay their bills.

Mr. Kizatu tries to pay all his bills as he suggests that
once one becomes used to electricity it is hard to

Type of Service



Skips (Formal)



Skips (Informal)



Table 22. Solid waste disposal services



Figure 23. Inadequate waste disposal services encourages
burning of solid waste.

© Hamish Stewart

electricity either being rationed or not supplied at all in
poor areas. As result of these delivery failures, there is a
need to adopt new approaches to servicing, while not
necessarily lengthening existing lines and reproducing
current technologies but rather using existing
infrastructure more efectively and exploring alternative
options, such as solar energy, which can be produced of
of the central power grid.

Based on survey fndings in Gulu and Kampala, there
is a need to establish a single utility body in each town
in order to coordinate and provide appropriate and
sustainable basic infrastructure. Currently, the Kampala
City Council and the Gulu Municipal Council are
unable to coordinate efectively with the national level
utility providers. In particular, new initiatives in solar-
powered lighting and the use of alternative energy
sources to meet household energy needs should be
coordinated by a unifed local utility provider, either as
part of government or in the form of a fnancially self-
sufcient public private partnerships.





1. Fortunately, the need for fixed line telephony has largely been reduced by the arrival of mobile phone
services across the country.
2. Public Health Act (1969), Section 37, Government of Uganda
3. Article 237 Cap (8), Government of Uganda
4. NWSC (2009)
5. UNESCO (2005), 80; NDP (2009), 270.
6. Fichtner Water & Transportation and MACS. Section 2-6.
7. Umeme, a private company, was formed in 2004 when the Government of Uganda sold Uganda Electricity
Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL).
8. World Bank (2005), 172
9. UBoS (2002)
10. MOWT (2006)
11. MoFPED (2006)
12. Rugadya (2007), 25

13. World Bank (2010). World Development Indicators (WDI) Online.



Te extent to which the housing sector in a country
depends upon imported materials will have a signifcant
impact on the ability of the housing sector to contribute
to economic development. Where imports are extensive,
this will be a drain on domestic fnancial resources, but
where local materials predominate, this will assist in the
country’s economic development. Te current expansion
of the national steel business is a strong indicator of
the role housing will play in Uganda’s future economic

As high rise construction, and condominium housing in
particular, become popular in the housing sector, demand
for materials such as steel should rise accordingly and
will support further growth in the domestic industry
with a potential export beneft.

Nationally, there are currently four companies operating
small-scale steel mills in Uganda: East African Steel
Corporation at Jinja, Steel Rolling Mills in Jinja,
Sembule Steel Mills at Nalukolongo and BM Technical
Services in Mbarara. All four have a combined capacity
of about 72,000 tonnes per annum. Tese mills use
scrap as basic raw material for the production of
steel products yet un-mined iron ore deposits exist in
the country. According to the National Investment
Authority, the national demand for steel products is
estimated at 60,000 to 80,000 tonnes per annum while
the current production level is stable at approximately
70,000 metric tons per annum. Tis indicates that the
existing steel producing companies are producing far
below their installed capacity, and are not currently
meeting the national demand for raw steel.

Te past twenty years have seen a boom in the
construction industry. Beginning with the liberalization
of the economy since 1990, many foreign and local
investors have selectively entered key sector industries.
However, if this growth is to be sustained and is to
beneft the majority of urban residents, the Government
of Uganda and local authorities must address a number
of problems. Recent amendments to the National
Transport Master Plan (2010-2015); the Engineers
Registration Act of 1969; and progress towards drafting
a new Building Control Bill all point to improved
coordination, regulation and development of the
construction industry. Te National Housing Strategy
seeks to provide a framework for carrying out reforms
in the building and construction sector for its improved

Use of imported materials is mostly for specifc areas
such as fnishes, where ceramics are popular. Imported
materials are also largely used in electro-mechanical
areas where local production is limited or non-existent
at all. Survey data on the use of materials used for
housing construction indicate that a large proportion
of dwellings in the study areas either used none or very
few imported building materials. In Kampala, 14 per
cent of dwellings were constructed with no imported
materials whilst in Gulu the fgure was 64 per cent.
Te dominance of locally-sourced building materials
in Gulu refects lower incomes and the areas relatively
poor road and rail connectivity when compared with
Kampala. For both imported and local materials, the
geographic distribution of industrial manufacturing in
southern Uganda also favours Kampala residents.



Does the dwelling require any improvements to meet ofcial standards/ your needs?















Table 23. Dwellings in need of improvement to meet official standards






Very few

A lot


Don’t know













Table 24. Proportion of imported building materials used in the dwelling construction

accessible to the majority members of society, and the
level of conformity to enforcement these requirements
is very low as institutions responsible for this aspect lack
capacity to do so and the requirements in some cases are

To date, Uganda uses ofcial standards and norms for
housing that were developed by, and later inherited
from, colonial administrators. Tese standards specify
the building requirements that are in some cases
inappropriate to the local conditions. Some of these
standards were developed without considering the local
context. For example, specifcation of high standards
has led to a situation whereby development of housing
has become expensive for many low-andmiddle-income
earners in the country, and as a result, these standards
are hardly adhered to in the informal settlements of the

Developers in the informal settlements follow their own
rules and development guidelines, based on pragmatic
considerations of their housing requirements and
means. In other cases, the standards and norms have
not adequately responded to the cultural aspects and
environment of society, rendering them un-enforceable
and redundant.

In the case of Uganda, the planning regulations date
back to the revised Town and Country Planning Act
1964 CAP 269, together with the Public Health Act
and the Building Regulations Act. Planning regulation

As part of the process of expanding steel production,
potential exists for locally mining iron ore in order to
supply the steel industry in Uganda and neighbouring
countries. Iron ore occurs mainly in two areas of the
country; hematite ore is found in the Muko, Kabale/
Kisoro area and magnetite ore at Sukulu and Bukusu
in Tororo. Hematite ore has also been identifed at
Mugabuzi, in Ssembabule District. Te planned
promotion of iron ore mining and processing will
supplement the use of scrap metal which to date
contributes to 12 per cent of national steel consumption.

A signifcant restraint on the sector’s growth is lack
of investment in modern machinery. Dependence on
obsolete, imported plants and machinery mean that
growth is hampered and often businesses are unable to
expand even if they are able to access new capital. Te
industries also sufer from poor management and poor
plant productivity, which further lowers production
capacity. Despite these challenges, the production of
construction materials in Uganda has been steadily
growing as indicated in Table 26 (National materials
demand and export volumes).

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