Open access peer-reviewed chapter

The City as an Experimental Space: The Interface between Public Satisfaction and Effects on Urban Planning Resulting from Kampala City’s Sprawl

Written By

Fred Bidandi

Reviewed: 03 November 2017 Published: 21 March 2018

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.72186

From the Edited Volume

Urban Agglomeration

Edited by Mustafa Ergen

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This paper analyses the interface between public satisfaction and effects on urban planning in the context of Kampala City, Uganda. The interface is significant because it provides an understanding of the effects of urban sprawl service delivery in relation to planning. It further discusses the underlying forces responsible for the city’s urbanisation process. The objective of the study is to establish what defines Kampala’s public satisfaction with urban changes resulting from the city’s sprawl. The study involves focus group discussion interviews, which were used to collect the qualitative data from a group of respondents simultaneously. Moreover, purposive sampling was used to select the respondents interviewed. The analysis indicates that public dissatisfaction with poor urban environment has resulted in urban changes, which are officially sanctioned to take place in their residential areas, and the desire to access services easily that explains urban dwellers’ decisions.


  • urban sprawl
  • urban planning
  • public satisfaction
  • Kampala
  • Uganda

1. Research problem

A careful examination of studies on urban planning and sprawl reveals that many of them neglect public satisfaction with the urban changes that result from urbanisation process. Yet the satisfaction of these processes is necessary to understand because they explain the manner in which cities like Kampala urbanise especially a role played in determining how the public make decisions concerning the location of their residences, the design of urban environment, water, infrastructure, transport, physical investments and which place to work in. In support of the argument above, Kährik et al. [1] observe that public satisfaction is significantly related to decisions urban dwellers make pertaining to location of a residence in relation to the nature of the neighbourhood and affordability of available services. Public satisfaction is also critical to private investment decisions and to employment choices made by individuals in relation to the location of the employing organisation [2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. It also determines how urban population reacts to changes resulting from urbanisation process [7]. These decisions and reactions subsequently determine how a city urbanises residentially and in terms of attracted physical investments and workers. This is why such satisfaction is necessary to investigate in order to understand the planning implications of urbanisation cities like Kampala.

Aside from the existing scholarly work, Kampala’s urban planners and policy implementers are also concerned about the current urban sprawl, but they are not providing an elaborate understanding of the changes underlying the city’s urbanisation [8, 9]. This study seeks to answer this question by analysing public satisfaction in terms of the flaws that cause city government in Kampala fail to guide the city to urbanise in a planned manner.


2. Introduction to urbanisation

Urbanisation is not a phenomenon limited to Kampala or Uganda but a global, regional and national problem especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, urbanisation is increasingly becoming a problem since almost half of the world’s population (3.9 billion) now live in cities [10]. There were only 16 cities with the population of 1 million people at the beginning of the twentieth century globally, and many of them were in industrially developed economies such as Great Britain and France [11]. It is however noted that there are now more than 400 cities around the world that contain over a million residents, and about three-quarters of these are in developing regions such as Latin America and sub-Saharan African countries, to name but two [11].

In the 1960s, for example, Johannesburg was the only city in sub-Saharan Africa with the population exceeding over 1 million residents. By 2010, Africa had 33 cities with the population exceeding 1 million, including Kampala [10]. These trends of urbanisation seem to be cutting across all nations of the world, including Uganda.

As cities across the globe continue to attract people for better employment, education, health care and culture, they unduly contribute to national and urban economies. However, often rapid urbanisation in this case is associated with poverty, environmental degradation and population demands that outstrip service capacity. These conditions create unpleasant urban environment leading to numerous unsatisfactory outcomes such as poor housing, overcrowding, air pollution, transportation, insufficient or contaminated drinking water, inadequate sanitation and solid waste disposal services, industrial waste, increased motor vehicle traffic, stress associated with poor implementation of urban planning programmes and unemployment, among others.

Urbanisation in sub-Saharan Africa has translated into rising slum establishments, increased poverty and inequality. Most of the cities in this regard are characterised by insufficient basic infrastructure, increasing poverty, poor service delivery, inequality and rising slum formations [12]. While sub-Saharan countries such as Uganda are experiencing unprecedented rate of urbanisation, the rates are higher than the resources, and these urban centres can offer given the population demands. This scenario provides an understanding of how urbanisation process in itself impacts negatively on urban service delivery and therefore the need to investigate its associated effects on urban planning and public satisfaction in terms of service delivery [13].


3. Theoretical framework

This study is underpinned by demographic transition theory, general theory, theory of capitalist urbanisation and modernisation theory, respectively: sociologists to describe how urbanisation results from the transition of high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates [15] propounded the demographic transition theory. This theory breaks the transition into four stages, namely, the pre-industrial stage, the industrial revolution, post-industrial revolution and stabilisation [16]. The theory contends that during the pre-industrial stage, societies were characterised by high birth and death rates, and because both rates are high, population grows slowly, and the rate of urbanisation tends to be low [17]. The industrial revolution is characterised by industrialisation that causes death rates to drop rapidly by making improvements in food production, health and sanitation. Food production is improved through more efficient agricultural practices and better transportation and food distribution, which collectively prevent death that would have resulted from starvation and lack of water. Health is improved through medical progress and advanced sanitation methods such as water supply, sewerage, food handling and general personal hygiene [18]. Accordingly, the industrial revolution is characterised by rapid urbanisation.

According to Fox [19], the post-industrial stage is typified by falling birth rates and lowering death rates. The falling birth rates result from better access to contraception, higher wages, commercialisation of agriculture and greater parental investment in the education of children, increasing female literacy and employment which lower opportunities for childbearing and motherhood and higher levels of investment in fixed assets such as housing, shopping malls, arcades and other physical infrastructure which increase urbanisation. During the fourth stage, population growth stabilises as birth rates fall into line with death rates, leading to stability in development and urbanisation [20].

In short, the demographic transition theory indicates that changes in human populations caused by the historical economic development of society are direct effect that explains the way urbanisation occurs. This theory is therefore used in helping to analyse whether Kampala’s current urbanisation is a result of natural changes in its population or not.

Meanwhile, according to Puig [21], the general theory identifies five interrelated forms of dynamics that account for urbanisation of cities. These include ‘the technical, administrative, political, legal and economic changes’. The theory posits that all these dynamics work together to promote urbanisation. According to Miller [22], this theory first posited that it is technical changes that are most critical to how cities urbanise because of their influence in determining the plans and policies that guide this process.

However, based on the more detailed analysis of the forces that determine cities’ urbanisation, the theory shifted the emphasis to administration. This shift was based on the fact that it is urban administration that determines the effectiveness of all other changes because they are the ones that are responsible for implementing all enacted acts and designed urban programmes and policies, including technically designed city or town plans [22]. It is urban administration that not only guides urbanisation economically, socially and environmentally but also counters urban processes that are environmentally and politically undesirable, technically unapproved and legally prohibited, especially when they are acting ethically and impartially [23]. Politics tend to operate in much the same way in that it can counter undesirable urbanisation, but it can also cause this kind of urbanisation, depending on the political interests at play [22]. The political and administrative discourses can be official or unofficial [23]. This is important as a basis for analysing the nature of the political and administrative discourses as they operate in Kampala’s urbanisation.

Another version of the general theory of urbanisation is referred to as the human ecology perspective, which was developed by Robert Park to explain the ways in which the population of urban areas expands or declines [24]. Therefore, this version focuses on how urban populations change as a result of the interplay of the five elements mentioned earlier. It contends that the manner in which each of these elements occurs affects the political, administrative, demographic, spatial, environmental and socioeconomic structure of a city [22, 25, 26]. This theory assumes that urbanisation should provide greater access to jobs, basic services and social safety nets [27]. Therefore, as Kasibante [28] points out, the two versions provide good grounds for analysing this nature as it applies to Kampala City. The rationale of the versions of the general theory is particularly important to the analysis of the elements characterising Kampala’s urbanisation.

The theory of capitalist urbanisation offers important grounds for understanding the factors accounting for Kampala’s urbanisation. Harvey [29, 30] to explain the effects and challenges of urbanisation developed this theory, especially in capitalist societies characterised by tendencies of intentional political and economic forces, especially those pertaining to capital investment. Harvey [29] developed this theory to offer a definitive Marxist interpretation of the urban process under capitalism. Harvey [29] believes strongly that ‘capitalism has to urbanise to reproduce itself’. Capitalism can only survive if in addition to the conventional path of purchase, production of profit and distribution for consumption in a cash economy it also promotes the secondary path of circulation of fixed capital. This is well summarised by Christophers [31] that, ‘A capitalist society generates surplus value and hence profit, must invest not only directly in the production process (e.g. in labour and machinery) but also in the built environment that houses companies, the state institutions that regulate them, and the employees that work for them’.

It is the secondary path that translates into built environments or urbanisation; as a result, Harvey [29] maintains that capital accumulation and the production of urbanisation have to go hand in hand for capitalism to survive. He bases this argument on the notions of capital over accumulation, also called surplus capital and capital switching. Harvey [30] considers surplus capital as that which has no value in the conventional production and distribution process but can gain value when it is not switched from this process and absorbed into a built-up environment (urbanisation). The switching takes the form of using this capital to construct factory buildings, administration offices, warehouses, employee residences, sewers, schools and hospitals and shops and other fixed developments and infrastructure such as roads, canals, docks and harbours and so on. According to Christophers [31], the gained value of surplus capital takes different forms such as increased consumption (when shopping malls are constructed) and social reproduction (housing when the capital is converted into construction of workers’ residences) and easier access to labour (people attracted to live in the built housing).

Harvey [32] warns, however, that the conversion of surplus capital into urbanisation tends to deny poor people their right to the city, which was first recognised by Henri Lefebvre as the right to access urban resources. Harvey [32] expanded the meaning of this right by describing it as ‘a right to change ourselves by changing the city and it is a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanisation’. Harvey [32] observes that absorption of surplus capital into urbanisation sometimes takes place in the form of urban restructuring through ‘creative destruction’. He argues that this restructuring nearly always has a class dimension since it is the poor, the underprivileged and those marginalised from political power that usually suffer from this process. Harvey [33] observes that the restructuring does not pay attention to the poor and, in most cases, destroys the housing and business structures that belong to the poor, causing homelessness, unemployment or redundant labour, undesirable neighbourhoods and other consequences, all of which tend to create dissatisfaction to the affected populations. The dissatisfaction tends to translate into urban revolutions to which capitalists react by expanding the built environment in form of constructing more housing, arcades and other infrastructure that can accommodate the revolting poor ([33, 34]Harvey, 2009).

Generally, the theory of capitalist urbanisation indicates that capital switching is one of the elements that can explain a city’s urbanisation. The type of urbanisation this theory stresses is that which occurs when capitalists (investors) construct or restructure built environments as a way of absorbing surplus capital. The importance of this theory to this study is that its rationale helps to investigate whether one of the factors explaining Kampala’s urbanisation relates to absorption of surplus capital or not and how is this absorption, if indeed, an effect on Kampala’s urban poor’s right to the city.

Last but not certainly least, modernisation theory, sometimes called the development doctrine [35], explains the process of countries’ systematic transformation or progressive transition from premodern or traditional subsistence economies to modern industrialised economies (abid). This school of thought maintains that subsistence economies develop and urbanise as they adopt more modern industrial, technological, communication and cultural practices [36]. Indeed, Tettey [37] observed that urbanisation varies in line with the development pace of a country and for any country to urbanise, there is need to foster development through adoption of technology and industrialisation. A number of scholars endorse this connection by indicating that the phenomenon and process of urbanisation are irreversible features of modernization and development [38, 39].

The modernisation school of thought posits when their internal productive factors are reinforced by external assistance, predominantly subsistence economies can be developed and urbanised in the same way industrialised countries have developed and urbanised [19, 40]. This theory stresses using processes that bring about socioeconomic change and permit responses to this change [41, 42]. In so doing, it helps identify internal factors that contribute to social progress and development and how these factors can be boosted with external assistance to propel the processes of social evolution, including urbanisation, as desired [43, 44, 45].

The internal factors the theory identifies include the nature of politics, the development and urbanisation policy pursued by government and demographic factors [46, 47]. Other internal factors include levels of people’s participation in productive activities, regulatory institutions and nature of available markets [48, 49]. Others are the available employment opportunities, level of infrastructural development and quality of the available human capital [37]. The forms of external assistance the theory identifies to lead to improvements in urban planning capacity and to unlock and realise the huge development potential of urbanisation include development aid and direct foreign aid inflows, among others [50].

The modernisation theory recognises that internal factors are not always enough to propel development and urbanisation at the desired pace [37]. Therefore, these factors need to be reinforced by foreign aid [43, 51, 52]. The assistance should be utilised to engage in massive investment in infrastructure, industry, technology and social services needed to propel socioeconomic progress and subsequent urbanisation [37, 53, 54]. Mungai [55] noted that massive investment increases population because of its potential to attract workers and subsequent rise in housing and social infrastructure. It is, however, also associated with negative consequences such as increased congestion and crime [55].

The modernisation school of thought has been criticised in that its prescribed foreign assistance encourages the dependency syndrome [52]. Some scholars even claim that its rationale does not apply to developing countries due to their levels of economic growth [37]. The theory is criticised for failing to prescribe governance values and norms which should be followed in order to bring about desired development and urbanisation [56, 57]. Notwithstanding these criticisms, the rationale of this theory offers the principles upon which the development and urbanisation model pursued in Kampala, Uganda, is based [58]. As a matter of fact, the official development and urbanisation programme pursued in Kampala under the PEAP umbrella was developed based on the modernisation theory [59]. Consequently, the manner in which the government of Uganda is promoting urbanisation depends on how it utilises both internal factors and how it solicits foreign assistance [60, 61, 62, 63]. This suggests that the modernisation theory recognises the role of government as an element responsible for this country’s urbanisation.

In addition, the modernisation theory permits responding to factors that cause transformation, including urbanisation [41, 42]. This offers another theoretical foundation for analysing Kampala’s urbanisation. The transformation that the modernisation theory advocates is not that which takes place for its own sake. It is transformation that should be felt by the people among or for whom it occurs [43, 51]. This argument is used in this study to analyse and understand Kampala city dwellers’ satisfaction as a form of factors responsible for the city’s urbanisation.

In summary, the reviewed theories indicate that each theory specifies factors, which explain urbanisation of different cities. They therefore show that the factors that are responsible for the manner in which a city such us Kampala urbanises are multifaceted. A close examination of the theories reveals that no single theory exhausts all the factors related to urbanisation. This implies that a study seeking to analyse urbanisation of a city such as Kampala is rationally safe when its theoretical grounding is hinged on the combined rationale of all the theories. This is therefore the rationale used to develop themes of this study as explained in the next section.


4. Understanding urban sprawl

Though urban expansion in cities like Kampala has benefits, such as increased city revenue and development, it has many negative outcomes for residents, particularly on the environment, water, sanitation, air pollution, increased traffic jams and loss of agricultural land. Polidoro et al. [64] describe urban sprawl as leapfrogging of development characterised by unrestricted expansion, which in this case occurs in considerably unplanned or poor residential settings. Moreover, Polidoro et al. argue that urban sprawl is characterised by the spreading of urban livelihood, which rapidly extends beyond the consolidated city centre. In other words, urban sprawl typically occurs outside the centre of services and available jobs, thus separating the places where people shop and work, and even where they study, from the place where they live.

However, some of the indictors of urban sprawl are encroachment on public land due to population growth, difficulties in access to public services (such as health, education, water, sanitation, etc.), creation of new urbanisation (usually in form of slums), decentralisation of public lands and inability for city governments to control real estate expansion for fiscal use. As Hasse and Lathrop [65] argue, urban expansion in cities like Kampala enhances social inequalities since the taxing of property in such areas does not exactly reflect the spatial and economic condition of the population.


5. Challenges of urban sprawl in the context of Kampala

Urban expansion is an important instrument, which in theory can contribute to any city’s development and planning in new areas. As cities expand, they encroach into rural areas and small towns whereby having the opportunity to make the best possible use of land for better infrastructure and services in general becomes difficult, since the already occupied areas may either not be gazetted in the city plans or are simply people’s private land on which they can carry out any activity without necessarily considering challenges that lie ahead especially given the population growth as well as services needed. However, urban expansion brings with it scandalous land grab and creation of urban gaps for the valuation of land [66]. Thus, this has become one of the major producers of value and accumulation of capital in cities. In Uganda, it is uncommon to use the expansion of urban districts to allocate social interest housing and low-cost housing projects in locations far distant from the consolidated city centre. Consequently, the infrastructure developed in certain areas serves as a factor for land valuation, while the city outskirts suffer for the lack of or poor-quality infrastructure, as well as difficulties in transportation due to the precarious system of public transport to areas where jobs are concentrated [67]. Moreover, households on the city periphery consider agriculture to be the single most important source of their livelihood, and therefore land is a critical resource for the 42% of households that earn a living from subsistence farming as well as providing the population employment in agriculture [66]. However, Uganda having a dual land tenure facilitates poor service delivery and conflict as land owners would sell to anybody they want without considering consequences resulting from urban sprawl. Jones et al. [68] argue that urban expansion means population demand for services but land scarcity is an important dimension of urban environments that influences the available space for service infrastructure and economic activities of land use planning. Moreover, heightening competition over land ownership is quite a challenge in Kampala.

Studies conducted about Kampala’s urbanisation indicate that the process is characterised by lack of proper zoning of economic activities and construction of informal and formal physical infrastructure without regard to the subsequent spatial quality and environmental conservation [8, 69, 70, 71, 72]. Kampala’s urbanisation depicts sharp differences in residential standards where expensive housing coexist with shantytowns and informal settlements, with about 60% of the city’s population living in unplanned residences and using very dirty, largely potholed and narrow roads with no street lights [73]. Other studies show that Kampala’s urbanisation is typified by deteriorating environmental health characterised by air and noise pollution [74, 75, 76].

The city’s drainage channels are silted and contaminated by organic and inorganic waste dumped by city dwellers and workers, causing the channels to get blocked, thereby flooding during rainy seasons [77, 78, 79]. It is very common to find similar challenges in peripheral areas where construction in swamps and green belts are closely interspaced with muddy huts in slums [8]. It is also not rare to find office buildings whose access roads are so narrow that even a fire brigade vehicle finds it difficult to access them when need arises. The result has been the development of different types of slums.

Kampala’s urbanisation is also characterised by rising unemployment resulting from the demand for jobs far outstripping their supply [77, 80]. The city’s unemployment is estimated to be between 60 and 80% and is cited among the critical causes of crime and violence increasing in the city [9, 81]. Growing population pressure on social services and menacing traffic congestion are the order of the day [8, 9, 82, 83, 84, 85]. Furthermore, as Kampala continues to expand, services such as water, sanitation, solid waste management and planning remain a challenge. City dwellers establish themselves in areas too difficult to reach in terms of transport and city government which makes planning complex.


6. Urban sprawl and effects on planning

Kampala’s urbanisation appears a replica of the general urban situation in Africa. There is a lack of a comprehensive understanding of the effects of urban sprawl on planning. This dates back when Kampala was declared the capital city of Uganda during which time the city was planned for the population of 300,000 without considering future urban changes [28, 87]. This understanding was neglected because like many other cities in the world in their infancy, Kampala was urbanising at a slow pace [88]. Such a pace gave Kampala City authorities time to plan and provide the public services that the slowly increasing urban population needed. This could be done without any need to first understand the underlying dynamics. This understanding was further neglected when the pace of Kampala’s urbanisation declined in the 1970s because of the economic embargos, mismanagement of Uganda’s economy and an atmosphere of insecurity that characterised the late President Amin’s dictatorship [59].

The pace of Kampala’s urbanisation started rising from 1990, but little was done to understand the underlying effects inclusively. Yet the rising rate was signalling a clear need for analysing the effects as a basis for containing the negative ones while encouraging those that promote organised urbanisation. The focus was instead on implementing the socioeconomic development agenda, which the government of Uganda had adopted following the Poverty Eradication Action Programme (PEAP) [89, 90]. Since over 90% of Ugandans were at that time engaged in rural subsistence farming, the main aim of the PEAP was to transform the country from being a predominantly rural subsistence economy to a modern economy [91]. In this programme, Kampala was viewed as a nucleus of socioeconomic transformation through industrialisation and commercialisation [59], and this further accelerated its urbanisation.

At the moment, Kampala is urbanising at a rapid rate estimated to be between 5.2 and 16% per annum [9, 92]. The latest statistics indicate that Uganda’s urban areas claim 20% of her estimated 35 million people [93], but over 40% of these people are resident in Kampala City [94]. In fact, Kampala’s population size grows to over 60% when the transitory population is factored in. Kampala is, however, urbanising in an unplanned manner [95, 96, 97] but without a clear picture of the underlying effects on planning.

Nonetheless, a review of the National Physical Planning Standards and Guidelines, 2011, revealed that they were developed by the MLHUD [98] with intent to provide 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. They were to realise this purpose by ensuring equitable and balanced spatial distribution of development; orderly, efficient and coordinated spatial socioeconomic development; facilitating equitable distribution of services; integration of the functions of rural and urban settlements; and the optimum use of land for agriculture, forestry, industry, human settlements, infrastructure and other competing land uses.

The review of the 1998 Land Act reveals that one of the objectives of this Act is to ensure proper planning and well-coordinated development of urban areas. However, it protects security of land tenure rather than facilitating land development. This makes it weak in promoting planned urbanisation. Indeed, many of the urban development projects proposed by KCCA meet stiff opposition from private land owners, including Buganda Kingdom [99].

Kampala’s land tenure system legally provides for both private and public ownerships of land, with private land ownership being far greater than public ownership. The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda also recognises and protects private rights in land, even in the midst of Kampala City. Since land ownership plays a significant role in urbanisation, this type of land tenure provides clues as to negative or positive effects responsible for the way Kampala is urbanising. As Jones et al. [68]. Interrelated factors such as ones mentioned above can intensify the externalities connected to urban services, heighten political aspects of service delivery and create intensified opportunities for rent-seeking of various kinds. The authors (ibid) postulate that urban populations may also be temporary, particularly in informal settlements where tenure is absent or insecure, and can hinder collective action to demand better services such as sanitation. Thus, social and economic polarity, which is more common among urban populations, can also limit collective action in terms of service provision and generally planning. The features of urban population may increase the attention of demand, increase accountability for service provision and expand the diversity of providers; but these advantages have no guarantees in anyway, therefore leading to challenges in public satisfaction.


7. Public satisfaction with urban changes in cities

The review of literature on public satisfaction with urban changes in cities shows that different scholars have shown interest in understanding what defines public satisfaction resulting from urbanisation. A careful review of these scholars’ studies reveals the interest is motivated by the fact that public satisfaction plays an important role in determining the development and spatial distribution of settlements, investments, choice of employment and city dwellers’ reaction to urban changes resulting from services provided by city government [7, 100, 101]. This way, this satisfaction is one of the good indicators that need to be considered when developing urban policy or legislations intended to ensure that a city urbanises in a manner that satisfies those who live in it.

Explicitly, Kährik et al. [1] observes that public satisfaction is significantly related to decisions regarding not only where to establish a residence but also neighbourhood preferences. This satisfaction also determines private investment decisions and choices of employment [2, 6, 102]. In other words, investors establish businesses, and individuals choose where to reside and to work depending on their satisfaction with the location and its neighbourhood. Locations and neighbourhoods that induce high levels of public satisfaction are those that are well planned spatially and in terms of zoning of their socioeconomic activities; locations and neighbourhoods that do not satisfy the public are usually those associated with unplanned settlements, chaotic socioeconomic activities, noise and air pollution and poor environmental health [2, 3, 4, 103]. City dwellers react to locations and neighbourhoods associated with high levels of satisfaction by getting attracted to them in terms of residing, working or investing there. The public react to locations and neighbourhoods associated with low or no satisfaction by doing the opposite [96, 103].

Evidently, understanding public satisfaction with urban changes taking place in their locations helps urban physical planners, policy makers and implementers to improve the locations, thereby promoting urbanisation that meets people’s expectations. This is why understanding such satisfaction is necessary to investigate and understand in Kampala. Literature reveals the specific indicators that can be used to establish this satisfaction in particular; Akaateba and Yakubu [104] indicate that the level of public satisfaction with services provided by city authorities reveals the quality of these services, and this enables authorities to improve where necessary. Akaateba and Yakubu are, however, focusing on public satisfaction with only provided solid waste collection services. Moreover, their study was conducted in Wa in Ghana, not in Kampala, Uganda.

Research has also shown that city dwellers’ satisfaction is also measured in terms of urban people’s gratification with spatial quality, zoning of commercial activities, availability of job opportunities, adequacy of provided social services, accessibility of residences as well as quality of neighbourhoods [105, 106, 107, 108]. The study of Yizhao et al. [109] indicates that public satisfaction can also be measured in terms of these dwellers’ contentment with housing supply, housing quality and available housing access options. This study was conducted in China, and its findings show that housing that is satisfactory to residents is that which is either affordable in terms of rent or self-constructed. Such housing is satisfactory to both high- and low-income residents. In contrast, housing which is expensive in terms of rent and constructed by government is less satisfactory to city residents. These findings suggest that if a city is to urbanise in a satisfactory manner, especially in terms of housing, authorities have to promote planned self-constructed residents or to encourage low-cost rentals.

The studies of Hipp [110]; Shieh et al. [111]; Bonnes et al. [112]; and Kahlmeier et al. [113] reveal that urban environments that are free from noise and air pollution are satisfactory to city residents. These studies indicate further that the public satisfaction declines as the health of their environments deteriorates. These studies suggest that proper urbanisation has to take place in a manner that ensures that satisfactory environmental health is maintained. However, none of these studies was carried out in Kampala. Therefore, their findings need to be validated in the case of Kampala City.

A number of studies have shown that urban or city dwellers’ satisfaction with the spatial quality increases when proper changes result into improved orderliness of city land uses and activities [90, 91, 114]. The more organised or zoned the land uses and activities are perceived to be, the more satisfaction they yield to urban residents and vice versa [115]. These land uses and activities include commercial business activities, physical infrastructure (roads, power supply and telecommunications lines), settlements and social service provision facilities such as educational centres, health centres and administration blocks [116, 117, 118]. These observations suggest that understanding city dweller’s satisfaction necessitates finding out how these inhabitants are satisfied with the land uses sanctioned to take place in their neighbourhoods. The observations, however, do not delve further to show how this understanding can be used as a basis for developing an urban policy required to ensure that inhabitants are satisfied with their neighbourhood.


8. Research methodology

Focus group discussion (FGD) interviews were used to collect qualitative data from a group of respondents simultaneously [119]. This method was used in this study to collect more qualitative data from the selected KCCA councillors. It was used because these councillors were all met and asked to provide required data after their morning plenary session. Instead of being interviewed separately, they preferred to provide their responses in a collective discussion session. The suggestion of councillors was adopted. As Hennink [120] observed, FGDs can also facilitate collection of detailed data about the variables of the study in a free, interactive and participative environment characterised by free exchange of views and comments. In fact, the held FGD facilitated a deeper understanding of the nature of factors about Kampala’s urbanisation. In all, the FGD and interviews were held with respondents shown in Table 1.

PositionNumber of respondents
IntervieweesFGD ParticipantsTotal
KCCA divisional mayors44
KCCA deputy divisional mayors11
KCCA councillors55
KCCA divisional town clerks44
NEEMA monitoring official11
NW&SC officials11
KCCA public health and environment official22
Land use officer (MLH&UD)11
Inspector physical planning (MLH&UD)11
Commissioner (Uganda Communications Commission)11
Uganda Roads Authority official11
Uganda Electrical Regulatory officials11
Official from Office of the President (Kampala affairs)11

Table 1.

Number of interviewees and FGD participants.

Source: [121]

Table 1 indicates that 19 respondents were interviewed and 5 of them participated in the held focus group discussion. Therefore, respondents from whom qualitative data was collected were 24 altogether.

All key respondents were reached at their offices after making prior appointments with each one of them. Only KCCA councillors were reached and data collected from them after their plenary session.

Purposive sampling was used to select respondents who were interviewed and those who participated in focus group discussions (FGDs). Purposive sampling is a non-probability sampling technique applied to select respondents in a biased manner justified by the fact that respondents are considered as key informants in the study [122]. In this study, respondents who qualified in this criterion included technocrats from the technical wing of KCCA, leaders from the political wing of KCCA, national service delivery agency officials serving in Kampala and central government political leaders serving Kampala.

Each of the respondent categories outlined above was considered for a reason. In particular, technocrats from the technical wing of KCCA, who included policy developers, implementers and controllers, were selected to provide data needed to answer all the research questions of the study from the administrative perspective. Leaders from KCCA’s political wing were selected to provide data that were required to answer the research questions from the political perspective. Those specifically selected consisted of mayors and councillors of the five divisions of Kampala City and officials in the Ministry of the Presidency who are in charge of Kampala. Officials from the national service delivery agencies who serve in Kampala City were selected to provide data required to answer the research questions from a service delivery perspective. These officials included personnel from national service delivery agencies such as National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NW&SC), MLHUD, Uganda Roads Authority, NEEMA and Uganda Electricity Regulatory Authority.


9. Research results

As shown in Table 1, the key informants included technocrats and political leaders of KCCA, officials from national service delivery agencies serving Kampala and central government political leaders in charge of Kampala. As a way of corroborating the findings obtained from the selected city residents, the key informants were each asked to mention the informal forces that accounted for the urban expansion of Kampala City from 1990 to 2013. Triangulated thematic and descriptive analysis of their responses led to findings shown in Figures 13.

Figure 1.

Location of the study. Source: [14].

Figure 2.

Some of the challenges of urban sprawl in Kampala. Source: [86].

Figure 3.

Frequency distribution of informal forces or factors explaining Kampala’s urbanisation from 1990 to 2013, as reported by key informants. Source: [121].

Figure 1 summarises the various forces or factors which, according to key informants, explained Kampala’s urbanisation between 1990 and 2013. The percentage distribution suggests that each informant suggested more than one form of factor. A comparative analysis of proportions reveals that with the exception of natural population increase, each form of factor/forces was identified by at least 50% of these respondents. This indicates that most of the key informants revealed similar factors. Specifically, all key informants (100%) indicated Kampala’s urbanisation was due to its attractiveness to jobseekers and job makers. In addition, majority of these respondents (95.8%) identified government’s modernisation agenda as another major factor. Other factors specified by most of the key informants included internal and regional civil wars and conflicts (95.8%), excessive politicking by opposition politicians (83.3%), weak urban policy (75%), excessive rural poverty and underdevelopment (75%) and excessive political influence by high-ranking government officials (70.8%). Other specified factors included government tactical intervention (58.3%), private ownership of land and laxity in KCCA monitoring (50%), bribery and corruption (50%) and Lack of love and care for Kampala (50%). In essence, these findings largely substantiate many of the factors revealed by urban dwellers and reveal other factors as well. The findings further confirm Owusu [27] who identify the attractiveness of cities as a factor that accounts for their urbanisation. They also further confirm MLHUD [80] and Mabode [123] since these also specify population increase, politics and administrative forces as factors explaining cities’ urbanisation.

However, while the authors cited above specified the forces without explaining how they exactly occur, this study delved further by analysing their nature. This nature was established by asking the key informants to substantiate why the forces they had mentioned were indeed responsible for Kampala’s urbanisation.


10. Discussion of results

Key informants were asked about whether they were resident in Kampala or not. Twelve of them (50%) responded affirmatively, and the other twelve (50%) replied negatively. This effectively implied that those who could provide valid data were only the 12 key informants who answered positively. These were, therefore, the respondents who were further asked to indicate how their satisfaction with the urban changes officially introduced in Kampala influenced their personal decisions relating to putting up any development in the city. One of them had this to say:

KCCA authorised the establishing of a taxi park in the neighbourhood of where I used to stay at Nateete. I had to sell the place and relocate to Ntinda where I now reside. I could not stand the sudden noise pollution, increase in traffic flow and in the number of people who started passing through my compound to go to the taxi park.

The finding above indicates that the respondent shifted to another location and promoted Kampala’s urbanisation residentially because of dissatisfaction with the noise pollution that the new urban change KCCA had introduced in the neighbourhood of his former residential area.

Another key informant had this to say:

In 2009, KCCA authorised my neighbour to establish a maize mill just a few metres away from my residence. When this mill started operating, it made a lot of noise at night. I first tolerated it for some time because I did not have any immediate solution. However, my family members started complaining of failure to sleep and headache resulting from the noise that the mill produced every night. I went and talked the neighbour, but he told me that he had invested a lot of money in the mill. He however, told me that if I was going through such a bad experience, I could look for another place and sell this one to him. He also offered to partly finance establishment of my new home somewhere else. I had to accept. That is how I shifted from Kamwokya to Bweyogerere.

The preceding findings reveal that the key informant shifted again as a result of dissatisfaction with noise pollution introduced by the maize mill that city authorities permitted in his former neighbourhood. Another key informant noted:

I lived on Kawempe Hill from 1987 till 2009. Around September 2008, I saw people putting up a telecommunications mast in the compound of my neighbour. On inquiring to find out why they were doing so, I found out that my neighbour had been approached by MTN and had accepted to sell to them a part of his land. In December 2009, I saw another similar mast being put up in another neighbour’s garden. My enquiries made me realise that it was Uganda Telecom putting up the mast. I had tolerated the noise that the generator that powered the MTN mast would make whenever there was load-shading of electricity supplied by UMEME. This time it was going to be double doze. I could not stand it anymore. As I looked for a solution, shifting of course, I was also approached by WARID (Airtel today). I immediately accepted to sell them my land and run away from the noise. I went and bought land in Makindye where I built the residence where I stay now.

The above narrative further confirms that city residents in Kampala are shifting because of dissatisfaction with noise pollution created by the telecommunications masts erected in their former place of abode. Another key informant said:

I cannot stay near a factory and this is the reason why I shifted from Namuwongo where Mukwano (U) Ltd. and House of Plastics Ltd. made extension of their soap and plastics factories, respectively. Not only was this factory causing noise. It also polluted the air.

Clearly, noise and air pollution caused the preceding respondent to shift.

Another key informant replied:

In 1994, I shifted from Naalya and started renting in Naggulu because my former place did not have markets and health centres where I could easily go shopping and for health services my family and I needed. I always had to drive to supermarkets and health centres located in Kampala Central and Nakawa Division. However, the situation changed in 2005. KCCA authorized investors to establish Shoprite and other supermarkets in Naalya as well as Naalya Health Centre. I had to shift back to my own home, and even renovated it to suit the new developments in the area.

The foregoing narrative indicates that satisfaction with access to services promoted by urban authorities accounted for the respondent’s residential decisions, the latter of which contributed to how Kampala urbanised in terms of housing development.

An overview of the findings from the key informants reveals that it was mainly dissatisfaction with the poor environment health (noise and air pollution) that resulted from urban changes officially sanctioned to take place in their residential areas and the desire to access services easily that explained their urbanising decisions. The findings are therefore consistent with what [90, 91] described as organised or zoned land uses.

To recap on the findings, the study indicates that public satisfaction strongly influenced the manner in which Kampala urbanised including dissatisfaction with poor environmental health caused in terms of noise and air pollution by the factories, telecommunications masts and other activities that Kampala city authorities sanctioned. Another form of these factors was satisfaction that residents derived from easy access to needed social services. These factors caused city residents to residentially urbanise Kampala not because they wanted, but because they either wanted to have easy access to needed social services or were dissatisfied with the air and noise pollution caused by the factories, mills, telecommunications masts and taxi parks that had been authorized to operate in their former locations. Two urban policy implications can be derived from these findings.

The first implication is that it is not good to mix noise-making and/or air-polluting activities with residences. This alludes to the need to zone economic activities in Kampala in a manner that ensures that those that make noise or pollute the air are far separated from residential areas. The only way proper urbanisation can take place depends on the manner in which the urban authorities maintain satisfactory health environment as advocated in the studies of Hipp [110], Shieh et al. [111] and Bonnes et al. [112]. The second implication is that it is important to ensure that essential services are provided in a manner that brings them nearer to residential areas so that people do not have to shift in order to have easy access to them. Accordingly, a policy required to ensure that Kampala urbanises in a planned manner needs to consider these two implications.

11. Summary

The paper has argued that as cities continue to attract people for better employment, education, health care and culture, they unduly contribute to national and urban economies. Nevertheless, often rapid urbanisation is associated with poverty, environmental degradation and population demands that outstrip service capacity. These conditions without proper planning create unpleasant urban environment leading to numerous unsatisfactory outcomes such as poor housing, overcrowding, air pollution, transportation, insufficient or contaminated drinking water, inadequate sanitation and solid waste disposal services, industrial waste, increased motor vehicle traffic, stress associated with poor implementation of urban planning programmes and unemployment, among others. Moreover, the paper discussed public satisfaction in the context of services provided in relation to Kampala’s urban sprawl.


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Written By

Fred Bidandi

Reviewed: 03 November 2017 Published: 21 March 2018