Friday, 16 January 2009

Ugandan Eco-Tourism Housing Development

On the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, an innovative new development hopes to tackle increasing pressure on resources caused by Kampala's rapidly growing urban population, by combining a housing development with an ecotourism site.

It is called: Kakungulu Satellite City. The idea behind the development,
says private real estate developer, Arkright Ltd, is that as houses in
Kakungulu are sold, a portion of the proceeds will be set aside to protect an
area of virgin and new forest that covers over 50 percent of the 500 acre
site.

The first stage of this development, 18 kilometres outside of Kampala,
is set to be completed this year and will contain 2,500 homes, a business and
IT park, golf course, subsidized and free housing for employees and even a
sports stadium. The site has also been designed to include what the developers call a miniature river Nile to attract day visitors.

Rather than being an exclusive middle and high income enclave, Akright
say they have set aside ten percent of the homes as low cost housing.

Money to protect the forest is also coming from guided eco-tours
through the site and an adopt-a-tree scheme.



Serbian tourist Lydia Mavra was one of the first people to visit the
protected area on an eco-walk where visitors are encouraged to choose and
adopt their favourite tree. The tourists are then given the GPS co-ordinates
of the tree so they can keep an eye on it using Google earth.

"I thought it was absolutely beautiful, the project as a whole, I
thought was so interesting because they are trying to incorporate social
enterprise with ecotourism, and it sounds quite new, and by the sounds of
things it will be a big attraction for Ugandans who live in Kampala who
wouldn't normally be near a national park, but I loved it. I loved the jungle
walk, slightly hair-raising especially jumping across the river, the trees are
amazing, and I think it's a really precious thing they are doing so I was very
impressed with it," said Mavra.

Kakungulu Satellite City is the tenth and largest project in and around
Kampala by Akright Ltd.

So far the cost of the project has reached ten million US dollars but
Arkright say they are expecting to spend around 70 million US dollars to
complete the second phase of development which will include a large shopping
mall.



Alex Kamukama with his children. Alex has moved his family to a house on the Kakungulu site.


Alex Kamukama, who helped found the company in 1988, believes the site
can be an example to cities all over Africa trying to cope with rapidly
growing populations.

"Once we are able to do our development in an organized and
systematic way, there won't be any difference between Africa and Europe. So
believing in ourselves, getting good leadership in terms of giving us right
direction, and stopping the dependency syndrome in us will change the whole
set up," said Kamukama.

The site is also receiving support from environmentalists. Raymond
Katebaka is an environmental resources expert at Makerere University.

"We are trying to conserve and at the same time develop within our
environment because Uganda, with it's current population which is almost 27
million people, there is a lot of demand for resources and demand for
resources contributes to a lot of environmental degradation," said
Katebaka.

The project has received government support with the inauguration of
the site officiated by the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni in July
2006.

The commissioner of physical planning, in the Ministry of Lands,
Housing and Urban Development, Silvano Katsigaire, said that the government
needs to review its planning and land use policies to accommodate Kampala's
growing population.

"It's now estimated to have a population of about 1.8 million, and
this is up from about 1.2 million in 2002, which is a great leap and if we are
going to continue at this rate, then I think we must have massive
interventions," said Katsigaire.

Uganda's fast growing urban population has resulted into various social
and health problems associated with over-crowding and environment degradation.

70 percent of the 3.8 million people in urban areas live in slums.
The situation in Kampala, illustrates the challenges faced by rapidly growing cities in developing economies.

UN Habitat estimate that by 2050, 55 percent of Africans will be living
in urban areas.

1 comment:

tumwijuke said...

The Kakungulu site certainly has its merits, but I wish it could go a step further. For instance it could promote construction with recycled materials and reduce the dependence on cement and clay. Instead of using iron or tiled roofing, we could use cheaper, older alternatives like grass thatch and papyrus.

Kakungulu is strategically situated to showcase the use of cork and corncobs for walling, eco-friendly housing designs that are not heavily dependent on electricity and piped water. It is a great place to showcase local technologies.

Unfortunately people building in Kakungulu are building the same old boxy concrete mansions. It doesn't qualify as eco-anything unless it goes all the way.