Adaptation to Climate Change: Flooding

Climate change has brought unpredictable, more frequent heavy rains to Kampala. One example is the heavy rain of October 2015, that submerged Kampala and paralysed the city: “swamped roads, submerged vehicles, felled trees and flattened mud-and-wattle houses … car parks, slum neighbourhoods and other settlements on wastelands remained under water after a three-hour downpour. In Wandegeya sewage spewing from a police station mixed with run-off water to contaminate open water sources ”  (Monitor Newspaper, 11 Nov 2015). 

It is however low-income households living in unwanted low-laying valleys and swamps, that suffer the most when these floods wash away their homes, belongings and roads, at times bringing with it sewage or disease. Unstable incomes, insecure land tenure, coupled with weak building regulation and poor housing all increase the exposure and vulnerability of the urban poor to extreme climate events.

Urbans Slums in low laying areas are at risk to heavy rain flooding

Urbans Slums in low laying areas are at risk to heavy rain flooding

Flooding at times washes waste into the environment, undermining health and sanitation for local communities

Flooding at times washes waste into the environment, undermining health and sanitation for local communities

Low laying areas are vulnerable to flooding

Nabweru-North: Low laying areas are vulnerable to flooding

submerged neighbourhood

Nabweru North: Submerged neighbourhood



Through participatory planning workshops, this project will engage 100 households of Nabweru, town councilors, selected students and experts in developing an ADAPTATION STRATEGY for the Nabweru community to adapt to and cope with the floods. Furthermore the project will physical demonstrate 3 selected strategies, and spread awareness to communities and local leaders for the need to build resilience and cope with climate change.

The Project will be executed in 3 steps:

  1. ORIENTATION: introduce the process to stakeholders and train/orient the facilitators on participatory methods.
  2. Participatory planning workshops: These are Community-managed enumerations and focus group discussions in which a multi disciplinary array of participants identify the causes and the nature of the vulnerability of floods and brainstorm on locally generated solutions to cope with the floods. These will be compiled into a manual of strategies for action during the next flood events, so that households now have a way to withstand and survive the flood.
  3. Demonstration of some of the strategies: This will be through installation of selected strategies to demonstrate to the local community, local authorities and general public that it is practically possible to combat floods
  4. Monitoring and evaluation exercise at the end.



The 100 beneficiary households will learn of the cause and impact of climate change, the importance of proper housing development to combat floods. They will start implementing adaptation strategies in preparation for Floods

Town council authorities will start to take inclusive action in building resilience among the community. There will be a revolution in the planning processes, with locals beginning to participate in planning.

Building Professionals and developers will adopt new ways of involving local communities in design and begin to commit more time to “flood-proofing” developments.

The flood-related damage to infrastructure, livelihoods and communities will reduce and this will mean improved quality of life and sanitation, along with well-planned and serviced environments and public spaces for slum dwellers.



The increase frequency, intensity and unpredictability of heavy rains, storms and subsequent flooding is partly attributed to the changes in climatic cycles. However the poor infrastructure and nature of housing in low laying slum areas, coupled with weak local and central government intervention increase the exposure and vulnerability of poor households to calamity when floods occur. We are therefore targeting the following:

  • 500 people from 100 households in Nabweru- North, Nansana Suburb, will learn of adaptation strategies to flooding. A special focus will be cast on making the strategies that are accessible to those will disabilities. Thus each of the 3 working groups will have representation from persons with disability and the elderly.
  • 20 local youth and women will participate in waste collection demonstration.
  • 5 Town Council Officials and 5 local leaders will understand the challenges of floods in the community and embark of control measures
  • 20 University Students will appreciate the gravity of climate change and the importance of involving local communities in the quest for a solution



We already have connections with the following organisations through other previous project. We worked with the organisations below on research, participatory planning and construction of a prototype low cost house, in the Nabweru area, while engaging local residents. The aim was to make a available progressive innovative housing solutions. Therefore these organisations are likewise interested in a followup that is relevant and vital to urban housing.

  1. YALI Uganda: This Youth Alumni association for fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship will provide projector and screens for the workshop.
  2. Nansana Town Council: The Town engineer, Town Clerk, Health Inspector, and Physical Planners will participate in the planning workshops. They will advise on te town’s long term vision and existing legal framework of development control. They will contribute to the development of the Adaptation strategy.
  3. Makerere University: Selected students (30) and Academia (2) from the Architecture, Engineering and Environment Schools, will contribute to the innovation and development of progressive solutions to flooding
  4. Technology For Change: This research based construction firm will provide 1 facilitator for the workshops
  5. Town Build: This Urban development company will provide 2 laptops for the project, and office space for pre-project and post project planning meetings.



A. ORIENTATION: to introduce stakeholders to the project (June 2015 week 1)

​B. PLANNING WORKSHOPS: Community-managed enumerations and focus group discussions (June 2015 Week 2)


​D. EVALUATION (August/September 2015)




We are including the LOCAL TOWN COUNCIL as a key project participant. The town council is keen to see that their environments develope in a safe, clean and sustainable community. They are also very interested in ensuring that heavy rains do not damage settlements. Climate change impacts in a rather new but very relevant topic of inquiry. The Council will hopefully implement the adaptation strategies in their building control rules and urban planning guide.

Another Key partner is TOWN BUILD, a local Urban Development Company, started by one of the YALI Alumni, as a key partner in the project. Town Build is already active in low-cost housing development and is therefore interested in including climate resilience to housing development. Town Build offers urban planning consultancy services as well. In 2015, town build engaged households in Nabweru in design and planning for lowcost sustainable housing. Town Build will therefore continue to seek ways of expanding the project even after completion, by offering the service to other town councils, and incorporating the strategies in housing development.

One of the project activities is an evaluation exercise to review, plan and prepare future project expansion to other surburbs. This exercise will review the best approaches to spreading the strategy.