Hamidah Nantume. Photo: Fredrik Lerneryd
UGANDA: It is not about the roof and the walls. It is about improving living conditions and defending rights. The housing situation in Eastern Africa is alarming where 6 out of 10 of the urban population live in informal settlements. Hamidah Nantume used to be one of them. This is her story.
“Where I was before was not a nice place. There were a lot of open trenches and street boys roaming around. So, I was always worried that my children would copy their bad behaviors. One day I got the news that our housing cooperative had bought land. We used to meet at a certain place, so we gathered there. We were so excited and sang songs to celebrate. We were so very happy to hear the news. At that time in the slum, whatever rent you paid, the landlord did not care. ‘Don’t tell me about your problems’, he would say.
In our previous home, the children slept on the floor, next to a bucket that we used as a toilet. Nobody went out to the toilet at night. During those nights, the tractors came and cleared the area. I lost a child during one of those nights. My child was hit by a brick during the eviction and died. Moving to our new house helped me leave those bad memories behind.
Now there is a big change. We have our own house with separate rooms for sleeping and sitting. And the bathroom is there. And the children are safe. The compound is big and the children play freely. Before we were very squeezed and they could disappear.”
Photographer Fredrik Lerneryd followed Hamidah’s housing cooperative Kwefako Housing Cooperative Society when they finalized the construction of their longed-for own houses.
Alarming housing situation in major Eastern African cities
The lack of adequate housing is acute in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Among the urban population 6 out of 10 live in informal settlements and get their human rights violated every day. By 2030, one third of the population in the region is expected to live in cities. The rapid urbanization is a threat to human security and sustainable development.
The 34 families in Hamidah Nantume’s Kwefako Housing Cooperative Society succeeded unusually fast to build their low cost housing in the Bujuuko area in 2016. The members have built large parts of the houses with their own hands.