In 2019, we stayed in Uganda for about three months. In those three months, we started a project for the local women from Katanga slum. We had a wonderful time and everyone was so friendly. Every week we had three workshops and they all took place in the slum. So we went there a lot. You can say you get used to the things you see there, but that’s not true.
Every single time you visit the slum, you see new things that break your heart. We can’t even imagine that we have to pay every time we have to go to the toilet. Surely not, if the payment they have to make is the same amount than a bag of rice. So they have to choose between food or a visit to the toilet. This is the main reason people go to the “toilet” in the trenches.
The consequences of this choice is enormous.The amount of bacteria that settle in these trenches is live threatening, so people get sick just by living in the slum. The soil pollution because of the (human) feces, vermin and the food waste in combination with the enormous amounts of plastic waste is a really bad thing.
The plastic pollution in Africa is extremely big. For example, the people get single-use plastic bags with everything they buy. Once they unpack the bag, they throw it away on the street. The ground in the slum is just soil. So the plastic bag gets covered by mud, and then there is a new bag and that bag also gets covered by mud, and a new one, and a new one,… after a while you have meters of layers made of plastic mixed with mud. This phenomenon ensures that the soil cannot absorb water. With a heavy rainfall, the trenches will overflow into the houses. Therefor the bacteria will find their way into the house and will effect all the belongings of the inhabitant.
During our stay in Uganda we organized a big clean-up. Together with the locals, we cleaned out all the trenches and picked up all the litter on the ground. Our project is focused on gathering/collecting plastic and making useful things out of it. This project created awareness and it is a first step in the right direction to decrease the plastic waist in the streets. But there is still a long way to go. The people who live there are constantly exposed to diseases such as typhoid, malaria, diarrhea, etc. This makes them extra weak for the coronavirus. They urgently need medical supplies to fight off these diseases.