Makerere University Sponge Campus: absorbing the floods

Kampala is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, a hub generating 65% of the national GDP with an annual population growth of 4%. This influx of residents and prosperous economic growth, has led to a rapid urbanization throughout the Greater Kampala metropolitan Area (GKMA). Over the last two decades, the city has undergone a construction
spree where natural drainage systems (wetlands) in the low-lying areas have been encroached upon. While the numerous steep hills have seen major developments and a growing impermeable road network and courtyards. In 2018 alone, the city experienced various fatalities, widespread property damages and major traffic disruptions. The worst affected residents by these floods are concomitantly the city’s poorest, usually living in these low-lying areas of the city.

Through its brand RAIN, Aidenvironment conducted action research in Makerere University to assess the potential of storing water for later purpose in an urban setting. The research was undertaken by trainees (Shakilah Karungi, Agaba Derrick and Alejandro Rivero) from April to May 2019 with the aim of; (1) Reducing flash-flood risk and improving storm-water management in low-lying urban areas; (2) Creating a blueprint for Sponge projects across Africa to advocate for green, sustainable and climate resilient cities and;
(3) Improving the wellbeing and livelihoods of flood-prone urban residents

For the Makerere Sponge Campus Project, RAIN has identified several Sponge City measures and traditional water harvesting practices that can be implemented widely across the university grounds. These include; gabions, rooftop harvesting and cisterns, bioswales, raingardens, pervious asphalt/pavement and Infiltration pits/trenches.

Since governments are prone to listen to top educational institutions, Makerere University will not only become a pioneer at showcasing ‘Sponge City’ measures on its own grounds, but it will trigger government authorities to follow suit by joining the ‘green alternative’ to flood prevention at national level. Additionally, Makerere will undoubtedly receive increased media attention and improved public image thanks to its mindfulness and commitment to helping flood-prone communities further downstream.

For further reading please find the full report here

For more information, please contact James W Kisekka and/or Tumuhaire Raymond