Uganda’s Rapid Population Growth and Waste Management Challenges: A Look at Mukono Municipality

August 2, 2023 – Uganda is also going through rapid urbanisation at a rate of 5 per cent according to the National Development Plan II. There used to be less than 1 million in urban areas in Uganda in 1960, but in 2020, more than 10 million people were living in urban areas in Uganda [1]. The urban population is expected to rise up to 32.9 million by 2050 [2].

In order to support the Government of Uganda with rapid urbanisation, GGGI signed an agreement with Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in cooperation with the Government of Uganda to kick off a project on solid waste and fecal sludge management in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA) in September 2021, to support the Government of Uganda to achieve its goal of sustainable development under ‘Vision 2040’.

Through the project’s site selection studies, the stakeholders of the project agreed to support Mukono Municipality, located 20km away from the capital city Kampala and within the GKMA, with solid waste and fecal sludge management.

Mukono is a municipality with a population of approximately 200,000 people. Since it is located not far from the capital city, it is used as a bed town for those who work in Kampala city as housing and land are relatively affordable in Mukono compared to Kampala. Thus, people, especially the middle class of the population, have moved to Mukono Municipality to settle down. This trend is expected to continue, which will lead to further population growth of the municipality. However, currently, there is insufficient fecal sludge and solid waste infrastructure and services for this growing municipality.

The project is currently supporting the local government with planning. That is, developing solid waste and fecal sludge strategies and bylaws, and carrying out feasibility studies for a solid waste facility and a fecal sludge treatment facility. One of the ways that the project supported the Government of Uganda, including the Mukono Municipal Council, was to provide the relevant stakeholders of the project to benchmark the municipality’s solid waste and fecal sludge management situation compared to South Korea through a knowledge-sharing programme with South Korea.

The project invited twenty-one delegates from ten different government entities to South Korea to learn about the transformation of the Republic of Korea in the solid waste and wastewater sectors through two trips in 2022 and 2023.

The government officials visited relevant public facilities such as Mapo Resource Recovery Center, Nanjido Ecopark (Landfill recovery project), government-run wastewater treatment plant (Jungnang), Seoul sewerage science museum, private-run wastewater treatment plant (Seonam), Seoul Upcycling Plaza, Sudokwon Landfill, Paju fecal sludge treatment plant, Dobong District’s waste facility that included a Material Recovery Facility (MRF), food waste facility and a transfer station, all located within the Seoul Metropolitan Area.

The delegates further had meetings with Korea Environment Corporation (K-eco) which oversees wastewater and faecal sludge in South Korea, and Seoul Institute, where the delegates learned how Seoul manages an increasing amount of solid waste through policy development and enforcement over the decades. At Korea Water and Wastewater Works Association, the delegates learned the history of the transformation of wastewater in Korea, focusing on Seoul City.

They also visited Cheonggyecheon, a stream that was contaminated by rapid urbanisation. They learned that the stream was then covered with concrete for roads in the 1960s, and in 2003, it was restored to re-introduce nature to the heart of the city to provide a more livable city for the citizens.

Finally, the delegates participated in the Korea International Water Week in Daegu to network with water experts from all around the world and learn about current global water challenges and issues.

After the program was carried out, the KOICA-funded project is supporting the government officials to make use of the knowledge and information that they gained from the trip by applying it to their own solid waste and faecal sludge management through the project for Mukono Municipality.

“Through these trips, we learned that the government of Korea put significant effort for decades to transform the waste sector and they are still striving to provide more sustainable waste management services for the people of Korea. We, Mukono Municipality, thank the support from the KOICA, the Government of Korea, and GGGI, and we are planning to incorporate these lessons learned from the visit to our solid waste and fecal sludge management,” said George Masengere, a delegate who also participated in the 2023 trip.

The government entities engaged in the knowledge exchange programme were Mukono Municipal Council (MMC), Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MoLHUD), National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), Ministry of Kampala Capital City and Metropolitan Affairs (MoKCC&MA), National Planning Authority (NPA), and Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development (MoFPED).

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[2] World Bank Document