Where We Work

Our work has always been focused on the most vulnerable children and families living in Namuwongo slum in Kampala. The detailed assessment process for children to join our programmes ensures we continue to select those children who are the poorest of the poor and at the lowest levels of the community.

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Namuwongo slum is the second largest slum area in Kampala and has at least 15,000 residents, however some estimates suggest this figure is as high as 30,000 at times. Many of the residents are refugees from Northern Uganda and DR Congo, or from rural areas of Uganda seeking employment in the city. In Namuwongo, 90% of households live below the absolute poverty line (earning less than $1.25 / £1 per day) – the highest percentage of the slums in Kampala.

Estimates suggest that over 50% of the population of Namuwongo are children, despite the slum itself being an extremely dangerous place for young people. Alcoholism in men is rife and sexual exploitation and prostitution is common. Although clean water is accessible, hygiene levels are extremely poor and people often live with untreated medical conditions. Compounding this are other problems such as drug abuse, high crime rates, unemployment, poor and insufficient infrastructure and low literacy levels.

Houses

Families regularly number over six people and the vast majority of houses are a small single room made out of mud. The slum boarders a swamp which means when there is flooding houses are often swept away, often resulting in deaths in the community. Rent is usually overpriced, considering the state of the shelter, and in most households, all family members live, sleep and eat in the same room together.

Food

Most households face food poverty with the average household of six spending less than 100,000 UGX (£23) on food per month. Families rely on cheap foodstuffs (such as Matooke, cassava, beans and maize) while meat, fish, eggs and fruit are foods for the rich. Even then, families may skip some meals to be able to pay their rent or buy other essential items.

Water and Health

There is very limited access to clean and safe drinking water, with all water fetched from a nearby spring or communal taps. There is also no effective sewerage system meaning that every time when there are heavy rains, sewage flows through the streets of the slum. On average, there is one toilet for every 25 households (150 individuals) and people have to pay for toilet services as well as for waste management. Poor sanitation, drainage systems and management of rubbish leads to frequent outbreaks of cholera and dysentery, adding to the already high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, other STDs, malaria, malnutrition and tuberculosis. As health care is expensive and often inadequate, residents often seek medical help only for the most serious health problems.

Education

Education is a means to better standards of living and is a fundamental human right. However, over 60% of the population in Namuwongo did not complete primary school, making employment opportunities extremely rare. Their level of poverty makes it extremely difficult to develop any savings. School fees may cost 40,000 UGX (£9) per term, while the minimum monthly food expenditure per capita in Namuwongo is as low as 11,800 UGX (£2.70). This means that in the worst case, school fees for one term can cost 3 – 4 months of food allowance. Furthermore, when sending a child to school, families must either also pay for transport costs or the child must walk long, and often unsafe, distances.