With economies developing, cities intensively becoming densely populated due social-economic challenges like unemployment, poor social services among others; there is need to address critical challenges faced by the citizens in order to purposefully uphold the meaning of true leadership to the country.
According to Advanced Oxford dictionary; a slum is a highly populated urban residential area consisting of mostly packed, decrepit housing units of situation of deteriorated or incomplete infrastructure, inhabited primarily by impoverished persons.
As per the above description; Katanga certainly qualifies to be called a slum. Katanga slum is a settlement in the valley between Mulago Hospital and Makerere University, in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.
It is situated 2km from the city centre and the slum has now existed for over 25 years.
This slum like any other faces the most outrageous circumstances of livelihood; for example teenage prostitution, poor sanitation, theft, and all sorts of other crimes.
As it’s located close to the city centre, the cost of renting a house there is expensive, considering the financial status of its occupants.
This leaves families with very little money to provide for themselves.
Many a time because the families are struggling with the worst standards of living, a few can afford a basic meal a day.
This forces the evidently hungry and malnourished children to resort to theft in order to survive.
It is a right of every child to grow up in a decent surrounding, but for the kids in Katanga, this remains a far end fantasy!
Most of the drainage channels are extremely stagnant, harbouring various water-borne diseases that often affect the locals, including mosquitoes carrying malaria.
No wonder this area has become breeding ground for Cholera and other hygiene related outbreaks. The most alarming situation to me was the teenage prostitution that happens in the area.
Girls of between 9-17 years sacrifice themselves to engage in commercial sex to be able to earn a living.
Surprisingly; these only earn Shs.3000from each client they engage.
From this money, they pay a commission of Shs.1000 to the custodians in their dilapidated lodges, they also contribute Shs.500 as utility fee for water, and what remains is what they take back home to feed and sustain themselves.
Some are teenage mothers and some of this hard earned money has to also look after their children.
It’s a shame that these girls have continuously engaged in this trade publicly, in the face of authorities, with little being done to curb this problem.
The moral degeneration that this comes with totally undermines our African culture; and this clearly explains the shocking HIV prevalence rate in such slum areas.
Just like employment, education in Katanga remains a challenge and the sight of school going age children vending dirty fruits, plastic bottles and scrap metals is commonplace.
The adults have resorted to this sort of child labour to exploit their own children, at the expense of their education to have them as money making agents.
The situation in Katanga leaves a lot to be desired! Innocent children have often paid the price of having been born in such an impoverished neighbourhood and this has sealed their fate often times.
Being right next to the city centre, there is a lot that can be done by us the citizens, and the authorities to save these children as they are only victims of circumstances.
The author is a journalist