Title: Contemporary Art in Uganda: A Nexus Between Art and Politics
Authors: Assumpta Nagenda
Keywords: Kampala, Urban Sprawl, Low-Income Housing, Residential Density, Houses, House Types, Outdoor Space Use, Appropriate Housing, Professional Advice.
Issue Date:
Abstract: The process of urbanisation in Uganda has been brought about by numerous factors including rural to urban migration, natural increase in population, and in-migration. The imposition of Western development policies has worsened the situation. For example, the structural adjustment programmes have ignited rural to urban migration since the rural communities can no longer depend fully on agricultural activities for subsistence. In totality these factors have resulted into increased population growth especially in the capital city Kampala. Planned housing provided in the past can no longer adequately contain the growing urban population, since it is unavailable or simply unaffordable by some groups. Most people in the city have resorted to acquiring land privately and constructing houses for themselves. The low-income however can neither afford to build their houses in the “permanent” materials recommended by the building regulations nor can they afford to seek professional advice to help them to plan there houses and sites favourably. The outcome of this is the formation of informal settlements.Even though a few documents have mentioned the problem of urban sprawl, low-density housing and inappropriate houses in the informal settlements, especially in Kampala, building design professionals have not come up to give advice on appropriate house types that could help solve these problems. The Formal and Informal housing areas are characterised with single storey detached houses on large plots, resulting into very low residential densities. New land is encroached upon at a fast rate because of the predominant pattern of horizontal residential development. This implies that land in Uganda is not used economically. Kampala City Council (KCC) has been blamed for not providing sufficient services and infrastructure, and maintaining that which is existent. KCC cannot be entirely blamed because the sprawling nature of horizontal housing development becomes expensive due to increased lengths of services and infrastructure that are required in this situation. The low-income households have been badly hit by this situation since the high and medium income can provide for themselves some of the basic services and infrastructure.Expensive services and infrastructure can be avoided by building at higher residential densities, in other words, if houses are extended vertically at reasonable heights. Why at reasonable heights? This is because if everyday lives are observed in homes, most domestic activities take place outdoors. Households wash and hung clothes outside; they cook on charcoal stoves outside (or else they risk smoke inhalation) and those who cannot afford WCs (flushing toilets) have to go outside the main house to be able to access pit latrines. All this movement back and forth cannot be done comfortably if a house is more than 2 floors high. Moreover elevators are not affordable, as is evidenced by the non-operational lifts in most of the office blocks around Kampala.

The houses of the low-income households are located most often in valleys and swamps where they get badly affected by floods during rainy seasons. Most low- income household self construct single storey houses without any consideration for the flooding. Coupled with inadequate basic services and infrastructure, the situation in the informal settlements poses a threat to people’s health and wellbeing. Had urban sprawl been controlled earlier probably the low-income households in search of vacant land for house construction would not need to build too close to swamps. If urban sprawl is to be checked it is of extreme importance that new house types that increase residential densities but maintain good spatial qualities within the housing

areas are developed. These new types should consider the existing patterns of relationship and identification for different groups of people.

My licentiate research generated knowledge on space use and spatial quality and the different house types within the informal settlements of Kampala. This knowledge has been the foundation from which new appropriate house types are being developed in the current research phase (doctoral).

The present research aims at working out tools for investigating house types that can be appropriate for Kampala City, most especially for the low-income households. Examples of appropriate house types are developed. These are house types that can reflect both people’s present-day needs and political realism. Such house types should be able to reduce infrastructure and transport costs, at the same time as preventing overcrowding and encroachment on agricultural land. The research examines past and present urban planning and housing trends in Uganda. The theoretical framework for high density house types, good spatial qualities and spatial usage, and the role of planning is analysed. Appropriate houses and house types are discussed and recommendations given about appropriate housing design and appropriate housing policy.

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Assumpta Nnaggenda: Urban Sprawl-Uganda DOC PDF PS