Nabweru – physical survey


Nansana is located on the main highway between Kampala and Hoima. The town is located approximately 12 km (7.5 mi), by road, northwest of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city.

The site is located in Wakiso district, Nansana Town Council in Nabweru North

The coordinates of the town are: 00 22 12N, 32 31 30E (Latitude: 0.3700; Longitude: 32.5250).



The Site has the following Limits;

The North facing boundary is 316m
The East facing boundary (along katoke-Nabweru Road), 400m The South facing boundary (along Bwaise-Nabweru Road) 481m The West facing boundary 396m

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Area size of the site is approximately 155958 m2 (38.5 acres)

The site has two main roads that boarder it in the south and eastern directions i.e. Bwaise- Nabweru and Katoke-Nabweru roads respectively, as shown below


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Topography is the study of surface shape and features of the Earth and other observable astronomical objects.

The topography of an area could also mean the surface shape and features themselves.

Topography directly affects the activities on the site from construction, transport and the others. For example some roads in the site become slippery and impassable when it rains and some houses have high plinth walls to level the grounds before construction which raises the construction costs.

The site is located approximately 12 kilometres (7.5 mi), by road, northwest of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city.

As a result the area is mainly residential and its population is rapidly growing due to the sprawl of Kampala City, Uganda’s capital.

This has resulted is mushrooming informal settlements in Nansana, our site (Nabweru-North) inclusive.

The fact that Nansana is more of a “dormitory” town, is against the Town Councils objectives which are geared at encouraging commercial investments.

The site is located at the peak of a hill at an altitude of about 1200 m above sea level, and it therefore slopes towards the north, east and west.

However due to the increasing population in Nansana and the sprawl, the informal settlements extend down to the wetland near the site.

The settlements are more clustered at the highest point and they go on decreasing in intensity with towards the wetland located near the western boundary of the site.

The plinth walls are also high above ground level indicating an effort to raise the floors of the buildings from the water.

The drawing section through the longer side of the site (East-West) reveals that the site slopes in both directions which can be very useful when distributing water in our site.


The top most part of the site has the common area though it’s off the site and this houses the common market and other community gatherings. The rest of the area is mainly residential which has spread to the wetland even when the areas are prone to flooding. The slopes of the hill are well drained and therefore suitable for settlement. The low lands are filled with clay and are suitable for brick making and other such activities.

People have built in the low lands and therefore compromise the swamp’s ability to drain the water, hence the flooding.

Since the flow of water doesn’t have many clear channels, it has created its own channels along (sometimes in the middle) of the road which grow ever deeper forming gullies toward the low lands.

Since the storm water runs uncontrolled along the murram roads, the roads muddy, slippery and at times impassable by car.


  •   Good views and vistas: being on top of a hill, Nabweru North has extensive views all around
  •   Self-drainage: storm water drainage happens by gravity and only needs to be directed


In order to control erosion and storm water the following could be considered;

  •   Drainage channels
  •   Road design
  •   Buffering excavated areas



Due to the proximity of Nabweru to the city, it has become, a “dormitory” town. Its population during the day greatly differs from that during the night.

The general population of Nansana was approximately 89,900 in 2011. Assuming that the population is evenly distributed in Nansana, the population in Nabweru North would be approximately19, 000 people.


The site located in Nabweru North, which is mainly residential. Residential settlement covers a large percentage of the site (approximately 70%).


There are commercial activities dotted around the place. The commonest commercial activity is small and medium size retail shops that deal mainly in food stuffs and some household items. Most of the retail shops are found along the roads. A few of them are found deep in homes. These shops serve the local residents with their day to day needs.

The major commercial facilities can be found along Hoima road.

Commercials areas are important to planning because they show livelihood options. They are also points of networking and interactions that lead economic growth of a place.


Agriculture is done on a small scale. Most of the residents simply have small gardens around their homes where they grow food crops. Most of the produce is consumed. A little is sold to the neighbours. A few of the people who have animals graze them in their compounds.


There are educational facilities in and around Nabweru. These range from pre-primary schools to secondary. The schools have some challenges. The biggest challenge is the lack of sound buildings. There are hardly any tertiary institutions.

Apart from educational facilities, there are religious institutions as well mainly churches and mosques. The existence of more than one religious institution indicates a degree of religious tolerance. These institutions also have challenges. Some of them have no way of being accessed and their buildings are not structurally sound.

Public Utilities

There are facilities that are provided by the government or the local authorities for the benefit of the community. They include roads, electricity, water supply and others. These utilities are not enjoyed by everyone for example water. Some residents do not have access to piped water. They get their water from wells and springs.


Secondary data was collected from Corporations’ offices and web sites, newspapers, journals and other library sources, websites of community based organisation, non- governmental organisation, private entities like Buganda Land Board, planning authorities; Nansana Town Council and Kampala Capital City Authority and Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. Primary data which is the backbone of this study, was collected by using a mixed method approach through interviews and surveys

The stages in our Physical Survey are;

  •   Background research: review of existing literature about the physical attributes of Nabweru north, its location etc.
  •   Site visit and observation: On-site mapping of physical attributes was carried out to understand the physical layers in this community
  •   Interviews were carried out with stake holders to understand issues that may not be understood from observation and photos and may not be found in any literature
  •   On-site interviews
  •   Photography
  •   Literature review
  •   Google earth
  •   World wide web (Internet);The outcome of this study will be fed back to Department of Architecture and Physical Planning at Makerere University and to the Physical Planning department of Nansana Town council in the form of
  •   Drawings and sketches,
  •   Models both physical and CAD
  •   Photographs and Essays


The most important and relevant law is the constitution of Uganda and it is from this that all planning bodies, authorities, policies and acts have their being. Listed below are some of the acts, policies and by-laws that are relevant to the sustainable and sound development of Nabweru.

The Constitution of Uganda. 1995
The Land Act. 1998
The Uganda National Lad Policy. Draft 2011
The Draft Urban Policy, 2011
The Building Control Act
The National Physical Planning Standards and Guidelines (NPPS), 2001 The Physical Planning Act

Constitution of Uganda, 1995

Requires district councils to prepare development plans incorporating the plans of lower local government for submission to the National Planning Authority instituted by section 125

Stipulates that land belongs to the citizens but government may acquire it in public interest.

Requires Government to protect natural lakes, rivers, wetlands, forest reserves, game reserves, national parks and any land to be reserved for ecological and touristic purposes for the common good of all citizens;

Stipulates that non-citizens may acquire leases in land in accordance with the laws prescribed by Parliament

Also specifies that Land in Uganda shall be owned in accordance with the following land tenure systems—

(a) Customary;
(b) Freehold;
(c) Mailo; and
(d) Leasehold.

There shall be a Uganda Land Commission to manage all government land. There shall be district land boards to

  • Hold and allocate unallocated land or land that isn’t owned,
  • Register land and transfer interests in land
  • Deals with other matters concerned with land according to the lawThese two bodies shall be independent but shall work according to national and district policy on land.Land use and tribunals
  • Government may regulate the use of land
  • Parliament shall by law provide for the establishment of land tribunals.
  • The jurisdiction of a land tribunal shall include—(a) the determination of disputes relating to the grant, lease, repossession, transfer or acquisition of land by individuals, the Uganda Land Commission or other authority with responsibility relating to land; and(b) The determination of any disputes relating to the amount of compensation to be paid for land acquired.

Parliament shall, by law, provide for measures intended—
(a) To protect and preserve the environment from abuse, pollution and degradation; (b) To manage the environment for sustainable development; and
(c) To promote environmental awareness

Uganda National Land Policy, Final Draft 2011

Policy Statement.

Government shall formulate a National Human Settlement Policy and National Urban Policy for comprehensive orderly planning and sustainable development.

The goal of the Uganda National Land Policy is to ensure efficient, equitable and sustainable utilisation and management of Uganda’s land and land-based resources for poverty reduction, wealth creation and overall socio-economic development.

It also tries to rectify ambiguities in the Constitution for instance, the Residual sovereignty over land and the Compulsory acquisition of land.

“Uganda faces a number of environmental problems, including the degradation of natural resources such as forests, wildlife habitats, wetlands, fragile eco-systems (hilltops and savannah woodlands), water catchment areas, river banks and water bodies as well as soil degradation and pollution of land, air and water. These are depleted or degraded through indiscriminate excisions, unregulated harvesting, and encroachment for promotions of politically-motivated investment. Users of land on which natural resources are situated, are not aware of the sustainable use practices, existing legal frameworks and mechanisms for restoration of degraded environments.”

National Urban Policy

The policy is intended to tackle problems associated with the rapid urbanisation which include: high population growth, urban poverty, poor solid waste management, unemployment, pollution, urban crime, and environmental degradation, urban disasters, housing the poor, congestion, inadequate infrastructure services, and poor urban governance.

The National Urban Policy focuses on-

  1. Social Demographic Characteristics
  2. The high urban growth
  3. Urban Economic Status
  4. Urban Poverty
  5. Urban Housing
  6. Urban Environment
  1. Inadequate, poorly maintained and deteriorating urban physical infrastructure and services.
  2. Inadequate transportation planning.

National Urban Policy on Urban Housing:

The choice of one’s housing option is determined largely by one’s affordability. While the high and middle income are catered for by the formal housing market, the poor are not, and end up resorting to the informal housing market which delivers substandard housing structures in slums and informal settlements. It is estimated that slums and informal settlements provide accommodation to more than 60% of the urban dwellers. Such settlements are characterised by lack of basic services, over crowdedness, homelessness, makeshift dwelling units, crime, and poor sanitation.

The Physical Planning Act

The Physical Planning Act is meant

  • to provide for the establishment of a National Physical Planning Board;
  • to provide for the composition, functions and procedure of the Board;
  • To establish district and urban physical planning committees; to provide for the making and approval of Physical development plans and for the applications for development permission; and for related matters.

National Physical Planning Standards and Guidelines, 2011

(NPPS) is a Government manual of criteria for determining the scale, location and site requirements of various land uses and facilities. The planning standards affect the allocation of scarce land and financial resources. They should therefore, be applied with a degree of flexibility. Trade-offs may be necessary so that the community at large could benefit most from the development.

The overall aim of Physical Planning is to achieve orderly, coordinated, efficient and environmentally sound social and economic development, and to secure the proper use of land.

The NPPS is applicable in four aspects:

a) Forward Planning – it provides an equitable basis for allocating scarce land resources and locational guidelines for various types of land uses and facilities.

b) Development Control – it provides guidance on the scale, intensity and site requirements of developments as well as the supporting facilities required.

c) Plan Implementation – it provides a yardstick to measure the sufficiency of land for various uses and adequacy of facilities to serve a planning area.

d) Raising Quality of Life – it provides guidelines on environmental planning and conservation of our natural landscape, habitats, cultural heritage and townscape.

The Land Act, 1998

The Land Act is meant-

  • to provide for the tenure, ownership and management of land;
  • to amend and consolidate the law relating to tenure, ownership and management of land;
  • and to provide for other related or incidental matters


The land on which the project is to be implemented is owned by the Kabaka (king) of Buganda and is managed by the Buganda Land Board.

Buganda Land Board Leases out plots of land for periods of either 49 years of 99 years to any prospective or capable leasee who is presented with a certificate of a lease title. The Leasee in turn, with the consent of the Buganda Land Board, can sublet plots or property on that piece of land.

Other formats of existing occupancy are-

Legal owner: this is one who legally owns the land to be leased out and in this case, it is the kabaka of Buganda.

  1. Bona-fide occupant: this is one who has occupied the land through ancestry or has occupied the land for more than 12 years.
  2. Lease by Purchase: this is land leased out to a person or party who has acquired it through monetary transaction or agreement.
  3. Squatters: these are occupants who forcefully settle on unoccupied land usually without the consent of the legal owner.
  4. Subletting: this is occupancy whereby a person or party agrees with the leasee. To occupy part of the leased out land.

Occupancy patterns are such that as you move uphill, you find Bona-fide occupants and occupants with lease titles (legally registered owners) whereas the unregistered/squatters are mainly found in the unoccupied lowland (swamp)

Initial plot sizes leased out are more than 100×50 feet but as other modes of occupancy come into play, plots less than 100×50 feet are evident on site. This has caused constraints in the development patterns of the different physical elements in this area.

This is mainly attributed to the uncoordinated working relationship between the planning authority (Nansana Town Council) and the land owner (Buganda Land Board) whereby land is leased out regardless of the structural plan put in place by the planning authority leading to inconsistent occupancy, services and land use.

A study of the existing laws pertaining to the occupancy indicated that all occupants in some way are protected and any intended eviction can lead to prosecution of the evictor which has caused a lot of confusion and contradiction on who is the legal occupant.

Town Council Objectives

The aim is to transform Nansana into an attractive business destination and a good place to live in.

  • Tarmacking 2km of a major road every year and making the other roads first class murram.
  • Buildings with a minimum of two stories along major roads
  • Painting buildings with a uniform colour.
  • Paving frontages
  • Issuing occupation permits
  • Planting trees

Overall Objectives

  • To coordinate, supervise, promote and support service delivery through various sectors.
  • To direct and control finances of the town council.
  • To ensure effective, efficient and economic implementation of departmental activities.
  • To promote planned and sustainable development throughout the town council.
  • To promote a health environment for the town council.
  • To have a well sound weathered road network and ensure quality standard buildings.
  • To ensure sustainable growth and development of communities


  • To have at least 2 km of road from the 28kms total network upgraded to bitumen standards annually.
  • To green the 2.5acres of land purchased as a free space for recreation / sports and relaxation by community members.
  • To plant royal plant trees on all roads planned for tarmacking on either side at 500 trees. Under beautification / cleanliness
  • To encourage households to paint their homesteads.
  • To encourage each household to place a light bulb outside their premises for the night period to give light
  • To encourage households to provide garbage bins in front of their commercial premises.
  • To encourage households to to register with garbage collectors CBOs / NGOs to dispose of their waste in a proper manner.
  • To carryout a bi-annual general cleaning of the entire town council. (This will be done collectively with the communities members and leadership.

To carry out massive sensitization meetings on the following sub themes;

  • Payment of local taxes
  • Having a well-planned town
  • Planting of trees
  • Helping the poor and disabled
  • Taking children to school
  • Respecting law and order
  • Supporting National, District and Town Council Programmes
  • Bulungi Bwansi programme
  • Nationalism principles


  • Infrastructure growth along Hoima highway i.e. increased construction of storeyed buildings.
  • Availability of local natural materials such as clays from the swamp and laterite soils from the slopes.
  • Proximity of Nabweru to city centre hence less cost of transport and service delivery to the area
  • Relatively big population-available labour force
  • A housing project would take advantage of the proximity to the city and the infrastructure that’s developing


  • Poor pedestrian infrastructure, consumed by roadside market and makeshift commercial structures.
  • Earth construction strategy of baking earth bricks for construction.
  • Construction of buildings in zero proximity to each other i.e. congestion of the residential area.
  • Narrow pathways and roads become drainage channels with deep gullies.
  • Majority of buildings have no access to open spaces or compounds.


  • Available renewable construction materials such as timber and iron sheets which could be used to develop a unique architectural language for Nansana
  • Opportunity to rezone some areas as mixed use areas to fit the locals need for shelter and income generation
  • Possibility to introduce more sustainable strategies of earth construction
  • Availability of red soil which are good for making bricks


  • Pedestrians are forced to walk along the vehicular road
  • Air pollution from the combustion of wood fuel and thatch
  • Sanitary risks with no space provided for systems to dispose of sewage water from baths, dish and clothes washing.
  • Depletion of the already inadequate transport infrastructure for both vehicular and pedestrian traffic (therefore places become inaccessible)
  • Social interaction is not fostered, and this does not cultivate a sense of community

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