Inmates at Nakatunya Government Prison in Soroti Municipality have for the last 50 years used buckets to answer nature’s call. The facility accommodates about 80 prisoners, who ease themselves in 10 plastic buckets at night. This means during the day prisoners are not supposed to ease themselves.
According to the mid-eastern regional prison commander, Mr Richard Emou Obongonyinge, Nakatunya Government Prison, formerly called Nakatunya Local Administration Prison, was built in the 1950s when inmates used buckets as toilets. The practice went on even after the absorption of former local administration prisons by the central government.
And while the elimination of bucket systems is on-going, the big numbers of former local administration prisons has made this project to drag on for long, Obongonyinge told local media in Soroti at the weekend.
Uganda Prisons Service (UPS) has in the last three years constructed about 150 pit-latrines in different prisons countrywide. About 18 prisons, including Nakatunya are yet to be covered. On average, 1,800 prisoners are still using the bucket. This is alarming to say the least.
Lack of finances has also been blamed for the lack of proper human waste disposal even though profit making ventures such as carpentry, farming and tailoring have been started by UPS.
The Prisons Act, 2006, provides for the mandate and functions of a Uganda Prisons Service composed of Central and former Local Government Prisons and spells out the duties of the UPS as to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of those incarcerated.
Inmates across the country should be shown some respect. They deserve, at least, the right to a pit-latrine. Using a bucket is unhygienic because of the potential health and safety threat to inmates, staff and surrounding communities. And this could spiral out of hand considering the poor medical history of UPS. A report by Human Rights Watch released in 2011 pinned prisons services for not providing adequate medical care.
According to the report, when provided, “Medical care is uneven and practically nonexistent at many of the over 170 formerly locally administered prisons countrywide. Healthcare needs of prisoners are routinely assessed by medically unqualified wardens and officers…”
UPS has made some eye-catching reforms over the past years. Obongonyinge’s revelations waters down the gains.
The kind of energy used by prisoners who are forced into tilling private land for profit should be used to build their own pit-latrines.
The issue: Toilet facilities
Our view: Inmates across the country should be shown some respect. They deserve, at least, the right to a pit-latrine. Using a bucket is unhygienic because of the potential health and safety threat.