Greenfield Housing in Kawama, Jinja

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Focus Areas: Housing

This is a greenfield project involving the construction of houses in the Kawama settlement, Jinja. To date eighteen (18) core housing units have been constructed and two housing units completed. Individual vegetable gardens have been established on the site for Federation members. The project sees the community involved in the planning process. The Jinja Municipal Council allocated 7.6 acres of land to the Federation and five hundred (500) trees were promised by the Division Town Clerk to line the boundary of this land. The relationship between the Federation and the Jinja Municipal Council is continually being strengthened. As a result of this project, there is increased recognition of Federation activities by the Municipality and Central Government. Different officials have been visiting the site to see, advise and encourage the slum dwellers. The Municipal Engineer is advising the Federation on technical issues. The year after the project was started the Alliance was given a further US$6,000 to finance the planning and layout of the settlement.  

Location: Kawama, Jinja, Uganda


The completion of eighteen (18) core housing units and two (2) housing units in Kawama settlement, Jinja.

Community capacity:

The community's participation in this project has primarily been through savings. They each raised a twenty percent (20%) deposit. As such their capacity and appreciation for savings, as well as their appreciation for the Ugandan Urban Poor Fund (Suubi Development Initiative) has improved greatly.


There has been an increase in mobilisation activities across the six regions as Federation members continue to strive for change in their living environments. Through exchanges to the Kawama housing project, both communities and municipal officials have increased oportunities for land allocation to the poor across the five municipalities. The federation in Mbale has been allocated a piece of land to construct a community toilet. The federations in Mbarara, Jinja and Arua have been allocated the same. The Uganda Federation continues to work to achieve scale and to replicate this project through increased negotiations with the Government and private land owners. 


The low-tech construction model utilised in this project has influenced other Federation groups in the country. The combination of low-tech construction and the mobilization of communities for labour participation is replicable. Lack of available land in Kampala for example, serves as a challenge for the scaling up of the project. This means in situ upgrading may be the only option. Yet affordability is also a challenge – so far mobilizing the twenty percent (20%) deposit necessary for construction has proved difficult.

As development in Uganda becomes more demand driven, Government has established the National Urban Forum and the slum dwellers have been given a permanent sit on the executive committee. Similarly the slum dwellers have also been put on the municipal forum as key members. As a result the relationship between the Federation and the local authority has changed significantly since the Kawama project began. "There has been a change in the way business is done", says the Project Management Committee.

“Now the community is able to plan and the municipal council approves. It is not just technical people that can go to the council with their plans.” 

The Federation has also convinced the municipality to waive certain fees related to approval of plans and construction. While this has not changed policy as such, it could set a precedent for future low-cost, community-run housing schemes. Of course, the land was also allocated by the Municipal Council and this may also have implications for policy going forward.The Federation’s project management structures have been tested and are constantly evolving. Changes in operational practice have been instituted in this, the second phase of construction in order to correct some of the inefficiencies of the last phase. Lessons learned by the Jinja Project Management Committee (PMC) are being shared with the entire Federation at National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings so that other nascent PMC’s in Uganda can also benefit from the learning at Kawama.

It must be noted that the project has also become a model project for both communities and the Government of Uganda. It is now a training ground for pro-poor housing initiatives in Uganda and has tremendously changed the attitude of the government officials in relation to slum upgrading initiatives in Uganda’s major towns. 


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$87,000.

Resources Leveraged:

The Municipal Council gave 7.6 acres of land upon which the Kawama housing project will be situated. The Council has also waived the commencement fees, which are a statutory requirement for any construction project. This is a tremendous achievement for the Federation. 

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development (MLHUD) has been providing technical support, offering advise to the Federation whenever they visit the project site.

Additional resources that have been leveraged include:

•500 trees promised by the Division Town Clerk to line the boundary of the land

•The Federation negotiated for free use of the tipper (truck) at the Division. They have been told to write a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The Federation will supply fuel, maintenance, and repairs but will not pay for hiring the truck.

Support leveraged from other donors includes, but is not limited to:

•A $15,000 grant was secured from SELAVIP

•A second $15,000 grant from SELAVIP has been approved and awaits a contract

State Subsidy:

The State subsidy was in the form of land (7.6 acres), a waiver of commencement fees and technical support. 

Market Generated Returns:

None to date.

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Project information updated: 02 November 2015

Project in depth

Detailed Information

The Ugandan Alliance of National Slum Dweller’s Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) and AcTogether embarked on this project in 2010. It was in response to the exclusion of the poorest members of a community from access to housing and community projects. There is a tendency for middle-income residents to be the primary recipients and managers of such projects. The Federation has come up with different mechanisms of addressing the housing challenges faced by the urban poor and is demonstrating the new strategies for in situ upgrading and pro-poor development. The Kawama Housing project is one of these.


The incremental construction of eighteen (18) core housing units and two (2) housing units at Kawama settlement, Jinja.

Community capacity:

The community had to contribute twenty percent (20%) of the loan upfront, in order for the first phase of construction to begin.

Savings have increased in groups throughout the Federation as a result of the project at Kawama. Members have started contributing to the Suubi Development Initiative because they believe in their own ability to secure this funding and manage their own development projects. The result is a surge in savings and increasing opportunities to access credit. Initially, savings schemes were involved in daily saving to cater for livelihood needs such as food, clothing, and groceries and providing seed capital for small businesses. However, the Kawama project has popularized contributions to Suubi as a means for securing greater benefits.


The intention was for the project to serve as a precedent setter, which would serve as a learning ground for other Federations seeking to implement similar projects. In addition to this, the project was meant to spur an increase in mobilisation activities across the six regions as members continue to strive for change in their living environment. 


The intention was that the process would lead to an increased number of slum dwellers participating in the process as well as recognition by Government that grass roots people can influence and participate in development. The construction of Houses in Kawama poses a serious challenge to the city of Jinja and other cities in Uganda as the slum dwellers demonstrate their capacity to improve the housing conditions of the very poor in Uganda whilst the question of “what is the role of the Government in this” remains unanswered. 


SDI Contributions:

SDI contributed US$87,000.

Other Contributions:

An additional US$1.3 million grant has been made available to the community via the Cities Alliance. This grant will be used for community upgrading projects. This will be in addition to the community's share of US$100 million infrastructure project, which will be undertaken in Uganda's thirteen (13) municipalities.

Resources Leveraged:

The land upon which the housing is being constructed was leveraged from the Municipality. In addition to the land, the Municipality waived commencement fees.

State Subsidy:

The State subsidy was in the form of land, technical assistance and the waiver of certain fees. 

Costs recovered from community:

Houses are constructed incrementally, which promotes sustainability. After the first phase of building, beneficiaries need to pay back loans before the project can move to the second phase. To qualify for a loan from Suubi, Uganda’s urban poor fund, beneficiaries need to contribute an agreed upon amount and make ongoing contributions. As a result of the project, Federation savings have increased. Initially, savings schemes were used for daily saving to cater for livelihood needs such as food, clothing, and seed capital for small businesses. This project has popularized contributions to Suubi as a means for securing greater benefits.

ACTogether Uganda. (). Kawama Housing Project. [Online]. Available:
Bradlow, B. (2010). Challenges of Working with Government. [Online]. Available:
Cities Alliance. (2010). Ugandan Government Launches National Urban Forum as a Roadmap to Sustainable Urbanisation. [Online]. Available:
The New Vision. (2010). Advertorial: The Launch of hte National Urban Forum. [Online]. Available:

Funding Information



Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

AcTogether Uganda

National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU)