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Employees in Kampala Capital City Authority empty latrines in Makindye Lukuli, Uganda

The darkening clouds are ominous for many in this urban neighborhood, promising flowing rain waters that stink of human waste from overflowing septic tanks.

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While Africa is facing population growth that is unrivaled anywhere else in the world, millions of people are moving to fast-growing cities, while decades of old public facilities are crumbling under pressure.

Sewage is a scourge for residents of this community on the outskirts of the capital of Uganda, Kampala. There are no public toilets for around 1,200 people. Mud flushed with droppings washes in houses during heavy rainfall.

Employees in Kampala Capital City Authority empty latrines in Makindye Lukuli, Uganda

Employees in Kampala Capital City Authority empty latrines in Makindye Lukuli, Uganda

Decades of old sanitary facilities are crumbling under pressure

Decades of old sanitary facilities are crumbling under pressure

Decades of old sanitary facilities are crumbling under pressure

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The sanitation crisis corresponds to that in cities in the third world. About 2.5 billion people, most in Africa or Asia, do not have access to an adequate toilet, figures from the United Nations show. Governments are increasingly dependent on private companies and philanthropic groups to help manage human waste in cities that never wanted to treat so many people.

Kampala is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and accommodates at least 1.5 million people, but the authorities say that more than 3 million people pass through daily, mostly for work. Still, there are fewer than 800 toilets and only 14 free, many of which have expired with walls that are often stained with droppings.

Many people rush to shopping centers to relieve themselves. Even in government buildings, the toilets are often kept under lock and key, apparently to discourage intruders.

The urban sewerage of Kampala covers less than 10 percent of the population, the authorities say. When putlatrines and septic tanks are not built safely, they pose a serious health risk. They leak faecal waste polluting marshes and Lake Victoria, the city's main water source, especially during the rainy season.

Kampala Capital City Authority employees remove waste in a campaign to encourage people to keep their neighborhood clean, in the Makindye Lukuli area in Kampala, Uganda

Kampala Capital City Authority employees remove waste in a campaign to encourage people to keep their neighborhood clean, in the Makindye Lukuli area in Kampala, Uganda

Kampala Capital City Authority employees remove waste in a campaign to encourage people to keep their neighborhood clean, in the Makindye Lukuli area in Kampala, Uganda

Angelo Kwitonda, a government sewage engineer, said: & # 39; Less than 50 percent of the faecal sludge generated in Kampala safely reaches a waste treatment plant. The rest of the volume is stored at home. & # 39;

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Outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases are common. Poor sanitation costs Uganda $ 177 million in economic losses related to disease treatment and productivity loss while people search for places to relieve themselves, according to a 2012 World Bank report. About 650,000 toilets must be built to prevent open defecation, the.

Outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases are common

Outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases are common

Outbreaks of cholera and other waterborne diseases are common

It can get worse. The urban areas of Africa contain 472 million people, a number that is expected to double over the next 25 years, according to a 2017 World Bank report.

& # 39; The problem of sanitation is very big, so we had to give priority & # 39 ;, said Najib Bateganya, a sanitary officer in Kampala who said authorities first focused on improving sanitation at public schools.

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Add: & # 39; The following model will focus on entrepreneurship, toilets as a company. & # 39;

Kampala authorities have not built any public toilets for years, although there is a plan to set up 200 toilets by 2025 with the support of donors such as the German development agency GIZ.

Private companies have tried solutions in poor, busy neighborhoods such as Makindye-Lukuli, where garbage accumulates around houses with a tin roof.

A sanitary program supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on emptying septic tanks in households that are not easily accessible with vacuum trucks that are privately operated.

Using a tool similar to a giant syringe, men in safety suits pump faecal waste into barrels emptied into a portable tank for a small fraction of the approximately $ 50 that would be paid to a vacuum truck operator.

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& # 39; When it rains, cholera is always affected by unclean areas, so we need to be vigilant & # 39 ;, said village president Stephen Semanda, who encourages residents to report on each other under the new system. Residents receive a meter-long stick that they immerse in their toilet.

If & # 39; says something on it, it means the toilet is now harmful to you & # 39 ;, he said. That is when a so-called & # 39; gulper & # 39; must be switched on to pump.

Almost two dozen groups that are active in Kampala now offer the gulping services, said Winnie Kemirembe of the Gulpers Association of Uganda.

& # 39; Keep Kampala Clean & # 39; reads the side of a garbage truck that works as part of the cleanliness campaign of Kampala Capital City Authority

& # 39; Keep Kampala Clean & # 39; reads the side of a garbage truck that works as part of the cleanliness campaign of Kampala Capital City Authority

& # 39; Keep Kampala Clean & # 39; reads the side of a garbage truck that works as part of the cleanliness campaign of Kampala Capital City Authority

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& # 39; It's a good thing, & # 39; she said after overseeing the pumping of raw wastewater from one smelly latrine.

Similar innovations are being tried out elsewhere in Africa. In the West African country of Burkina Faso, where open defecation is the norm in many villages, the WaterAid group promotes a fundraising initiative in which prominent residents use their own money to build public toilets.

In Senegal, whose capital Dakar is vulnerable to flooding, aid groups have helped build on-site toilets that turn waste into compost and become a source of renewable energy, said Yacine Djibo of SpeakUpAfrica, a Senegal-based group whose work exists from advocacy for improved sanitary facilities on the continent.

Other sanitary entrepreneurs in Africa are developing toilet models that can only pay 5 cents for a full day of use, an improvement over traditional practice of having users pay each time they come in.

Joel Ssimbwa, a Ugandan businessman who operates private toilets in Kampala, said he is working with community leaders in densely populated areas to launch a franchise that allows an entire family to pay once a day for multiple purposes.

But even that arrangement can still be prohibitive for the poorest residents of the city, said Semanda, the village chief.

On a recent afternoon, he pointed to an adjacent hill where he said that a cheap public toilet remained too expensive for some who linger outside, hoping for free access.

& # 39; The cheaper, the better, & # 39; he said.

. [TagsToTranslate] Dailymail