URSSI started in 2009 and was incorporated as a company limited by Guarantee without share capital in 2010. URSSI was founded to act as a platform for citizens to discuss issues affecting urban development and transportation challenges in Uganda with a view of finding lasting solutions to them. Back then there was limited guided discussion on urban development in Uganda, save for a few isolated lamentations by some elites of how the city was rotting away. URSSI was to act as an advocacy think tank to guide meaningful debate about issues affecting urban growth trends in Uganda. We thought that by bringing out issues to the fore, and engaging with policy makers and government, solutions about urban challenges would be found and implemented. URSSI was therefore founded to fill the vacuum that existed to highlight the urban challenges that our cities and towns were facing then and continue to face up to today. We were the first NGO to this kind of work.
In 2009, Kampala was a failed city in almost all spheres. Nothing seemed to be working. Roads had potholes, garbage littered the streets all over, and systems at the City Hall were not working. The city was at its lowest. Most residents had resigned to fate. Potholes were a common sight on almost all roads in the city. The Mayor of the city then was AL haji Nasser Ntege Ssebagala, who seemed to be overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start on improving the city.
We thought of a plan about how we could start a public discussion about revamping this once beautiful city. We contacted media houses to work with us. Most of them were not willing. We didn’t have enough resources. Our resolve was to work with the few media houses that would be willing to support our cause by drumming up our message. We designed a few messages which we shared with the New Vision and Daily Monitor. We also came up with fliers with appealing messages on how we could turn around the city. The adverts in New Vision run for a period of six month on a weekly basis while those in Monitor run for three months. We also placed adverts on two most listened to radios- Capital FM and CBS FM , the Buganda Kingdom Radio. We also placed appropriate adverts in leading radios upcountry in towns of Mbale, Fortportal, Mbarara, Gulu and Kabale. We also put up well-designed bill boards in strategic locations on major roads in Kampala. We received massive response and feedback from the public. Soon, “everyone” was talking about how we could make the city great. Government responded to our advocacy by appointing a new team to manage the city affairs. Kampala today is on a path to becoming a sustainable city thanks to our initial efforts.