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Arua: Why Africa's Once 'Second Cleanest City' is Uganda's Dirtiest

The city currently has only two functional garbage skips yet there are more than 22 collection sites where the garbage is being dumped all the time.
One of the remaining skips placed on Market Lane in Arua City.

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Six years after being voted Africa's second cleanest small city in 2015, Arua city is now arguably the filthiest of Uganda's 11 cities, stinking under the fumes emanating from mountains of rotting uncollected garbage. 

Arua city council is now groaning under the weight of the garbage collection challenge, currently being blamed on an acute shortage of garbage skips, which is threatening garbage management.

The city currently has only two functional garbage skips that are supposed to serve some 22 garbage collection sites.

Several skips that were acquired before Arua was elevated to a city status are now dilapidated while others have been disposed of as scrap.

The shortage of skips has paved the way for the growth of messy and abandoned landfills along Idi Amin road and on Duka lane in Central Division. Meanwhile areas around Arua Main market entrance, Arua Hospital lower gate, and behind Arua OPM office have continued to harbor huge filthy heaps of poorly disposed garbage.

Arua City Clerk Paul Batanda acknowledged the challenge, noting that they made an effort to procure over 20 new garbage skips under the Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructure Development (USMID) project but their application was rejected.

He however says efforts are already in place to find alternative sources of funds to procure new skips for the city.

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In November last year, Arua City procured two trucks under USMID project which are now been used for garbage collection.

But Arua city mayor Sam Nyakua says the council is considering putting in place efforts to cause behavioural change to encourage city dwellers to safely dispose of waste.

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In 2015, at the inaugural African mayor’s awards in Luanda, Angola, Arua town emerged the second cleanest small city after Cape Verde’s Praia. However, three years later, Arua was named one of the dirtiest Town in Uganda due poor garbage management.

It is estimated that more than 70,000 tonnes of garbage is generated daily in Arua city, but only less than half is collected, according to records from city health and environment office.