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Factors that are encouraging growth of slums in urban areas

Posted by admin on April 4, 2023

A slum is an informal settlement that is unfit for human settlement normally characterized by unhygienic conditions, poor sanitation, congestion, lack of access to safe and clean water, poor drainage, poor quality housing, overcrowding, criminality, anti-social behaviors among others. They are several causes to the development of slums and these include; With growth in the population, the urban centres and population have also increased. According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) 2014 census Uganda growth rate was at 3.1 percent, the 2022 mid-year population projection was 43.7 million and urban mid-year population projection for 2021 at 11.4 million and it is projected to reach 33 million people by 2040. Uganda is experiencing high levels of urbanization but more than 60 percent of this population lives in slums. 

As population increases more people tend to migrate from rural areas to urban areas for better job prospects and living conditions thus increasing overall urban population density which forces the urban poor to move into slums. The increasing urban population also brings in enormous demand for land which is not backed by supply thus forcing the urban poor to live in increasingly dense communities creating slums in the process.  Because of rural -urban migration some urban authorities are not prepared and equipped to support additional population and failure to cope up with high influx of people to urban areas causes several problems such as housing shortages, unemployment, and development of slums.


Also another issue contributing to growth of slums is poor urban planning regulations that urban planners cannot respond to rapid urbanization. Many people are coming to urban areas faster than the planning process and thus you find that these people coming to urban areas devise their own means of living by putting up makeshift structures. Government and Urban planners should accept the reality of urbanization through proper planning. Failure by urban authorities to match rapid urban development and lack of capacity to cope with the diverse social and infrastructural demands leads to growth of slums. For example failure by urban authorities to effectively link development to implications of this development can result in housing needs.  The growth and expansion of urban population is associated with lack of infrastructure, poor social services 

Also limited access to financial services facilitates growth of slums. Limited access to financial services and job opportunities forces low income earners to live in urban peripheral locations like dumping grounds, wetlands, road reserves because these people have a low purchasing power and in the end these areas later turn into slums dwellings.  Also unaffordable housing coupled with inflation that at times forces the cost of building materials high also contributes to development of slums because it impedes developers’ power to construct their own houses but also deliver affordable housing units on the market. The gap between growing demand for affordable urban housing and insufficient supply has encouraged the formation of slums.

Urban areas in Uganda are expanding to capture most rural lands and without careful planning there automatically brings in growth of slums. For example, there are already mad rush and mushrooming trading centres in the periphery of Mbarara City and without proper planning of such centres automatically they will be future slums.


Another factor responsible for the growth of slums is Uganda’s land tenure system which makes it at times hard for authorities to plan developments and extend social services in an organized way. In Uganda land belongs to people which complicates land management resulting into poor planning, irregular developments and poor housing and inefficient land use. For example, construction of social services like roads may require compensations of land owners, even modernizing informal settlements will also require compensations and at times which is not readily available. Uganda has four land tenure systems and these include mailo, freehold, leasehold and customary.

Slums remain isolated from the rest of the urban life and thus a need to have organized urban planning, slum upgrading to improve the conditions of living, improving job opportunities and developments in rural areas to reduce rural –urban migration among others.

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