UN CERF Support Helps Improve Waste Management in Refugee Settlement
By Mary-Sanyu Osire and Marion Dehier
Uganda – Kasonga Health Centre II can get really busy. Daily, the health centre sees 100 patients from refugee and host communities. On average, each month it conducts four outreach sessions and supports 40 expectant mothers to deliver. During immunization campaigns, an average of 150 children are vaccinated on designated days. At the height of the cholera outbreak in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in early 2018, the Kasonga Health Centre II was selected to hold an isolation unit.
The centre, located within the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, is run by the Government of Uganda with support from the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.
Jackson Tulinde has been in charge of the health centre for the last two and a half years. He points at an old incinerator. “It was built many years ago and has been helping us for some good time. But with the increased number of refugees, and the increased visits to the out-patient department and maternity section, there was a need to have a more standardized incinerator that could absorb the increase in waste.”
Tulinde then walks towards the new incinerator that was built by IOM with support of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF): “Unlike the old incinerator, [this] new one consumes less fuel, it takes a short time to burn a large amount of waste, it is easy to clean, and it looks better,” he says with a smile.
He explains that the new incinerator burns non-infectious waste like papers, used gloves, and syringes. Anything with glass needs to be crushed before it is burned.
“By the time IOM came on board, the old incinerator had stopped working well, so some material would remain unburnt,” he says. “If we had continued using the old incinerator, we would have accumulated waste which could have become dangerous for the patients and the health workers.”
IOM, with support from CERF, also built waste management facilities at the Kagoma Reception Centre, including a garbage bank and an incinerator, and installed four waste collection bins. The centre hosts refugees upon arrival, before they are allocated plots in Kyangwali Settlement. This was after sector partners raised a red flag over accumulating waste at Kagoma.
“At the height of the cholera outbreak, the situation quickly became alarming: there was a lot of open dumping of both degradable and non-degradable refuse and stagnant water which creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and this could result in the spread of malaria,” says Mathew Okitel, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project assistant with IOM.
IOM also constructed a laundry deck and sensitized the communities about the benefits and the importance of managing waste water, and the risks of waste water. As a result, the practice of washing on the deck is picking up.
David Upendo and his family arrived at the reception centre in October 2017, and he now works there as a cleaner. He proudly talks about the improved hygiene: “Look around – you will see for yourself that the centre is clean. When we experienced the cholera outbreak at the beginning of this year, many people at this reception centre lost their lives. Right now, nobody is troubled by cholera.”
The Kyangwali Refugee Settlement has been in existence for more than 50 years. Most refugees are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to UNHCR, more than 300,000 Congolese have fled to Uganda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Other waste management facilities built with CERF funds in Kyangwali include one incinerator each at Kasonga Health Centre II and Rwanyewawa Health Centre, as well as a placenta pit at the Medical Teams International health facility in Maratatu zone.
Note: Mary-Sanyu Osire conducted these interviews before she left IOM Uganda.
For more information about this story, please contact the Public Information Office, Email: email@example.com, Tel: +256 312 263 210