Over 20000 Ugandans are living in Kasokoso, a slum in the outskirt of Kampala. Women and children in this region have been adhering to the poor living conditions in the area. Lack of social amenities, water, and food has become a major problem with the increasing number of residents.
Poverty in the Slum
People know slums to provide refuge to individuals with meager salaries or no jobs. This is because such regions are of poor housing that is cheap and affordable. Irene Anek, an escapee of violence in northern Uganda for decades, has been sheltering in Kasokoso. She said because of educational poverty, she couldn’t find a good job. She opted for manual labor to make ends meet.
To date, she is still working in the quarry, crushing stones daily under the scorching sun. With the ongoing corona pandemic, her kids have joined in the labor to help with their finances. Paul Okwir, Anek’s firstborn, says that since schools are not operating, they have to work and save up for school fees and help their mum.
“We had nothing to do, but we came here, and we found something to do, and now we can work and get money. We can save, and if this coronavirus is over, we can go back to school when we have our money for paying. In a day, I can make 3,000 or 3,500 Ugandan shillings.”
Anek says they earn according to their effort. However, the money is never enough since they receive about 3000 to 5000 Ugandan Shillings.
“That money is barely enough to buy food and groceries because most times the prices are too high. So, we are just surviving, living hand to mouth.”
Challenges in the Slum.
With the increasing population in the country, there is a high demand for housing and accommodation. Construction companies rely on cheap materials e.g. the stones for construction. The people working in the quarries engage in so much work with little pay.
Most of the people working in the quarries have suffered severe health concerns. Some have also sustained injuries while crushing the stones. Anek says since 2008, she has been working in the quarry with no protective clothing. She has witnessed many of her workmates get sick. More so, she says that the biggest challenge in the quarry is the respiratory problems and chest pains. She attributes the respiratory problems to the dust that they breathe while working.
Are there Solutions to the Problems?
Local authorities in the region state there is not much they can do to prevent the risks. They say most of the quarries are private properties with private owners who dictate the regulations.
Mebrah Bamwena, a leader of women in the community, says that their children are becoming less knowledgeable. This is because they spend most of their time in the quarries with the closure of schools.
At this time of the pandemic, COVID-19 cases in Uganda are on the rise. The people living in the slums won’t receive much attention. Therefore, they are prone to more danger.
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