That the city of seven hills, Kampala is not on the latest ranking by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that has named Nairobi the second worst city to live in is not only shocking but, worrying too.

As Kenyans took to Twitter making hashtag #WhyNairobiWasRanked2nd famous, I could not help but searchingly wonder, where is Kampala in all this drama placing Nairobi as the 2nd worst metropolitan area to live in globally? Were we too bad to even qualify for the ‘Worst Cities to Live In’ List? Probably yes. And this is why I think so.

If the lists of best & worst were arrived at with the following being considered, then my assertion is correct.

Number of green spaces and their distribution within the city: If I had 200 pieces of gold and was to hand them to anyone who showed me green spaces within Kampala leaving out areas with limited access such as the lush golf course along Kitante road, I am more likely to keep my gold. Just last year, one minister nearly popped her eyes out in opposition of a move to make Kampala’s Centenary Park a park with more green than buildings. It will take lots of breaking, popping eyes & more Jennifer Musisis to create a Kampala rival for Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens.

Sprawl: This referred to how the city was faring in terms of the relation between the metropolitan region’s surface and its total population, the overall coherence of the metropolitan form and an estimate of the extent of low density urban fabric. On this one, imagine the feeling of having 10 people inside your shoe plus your foot. That is what it feels like being in Kampala some days. If ever they give awards for cities that have failed to sprawl, spread, widen….Kampala must be a leading contender. I have heard of plans to create smaller modern suburbs outside the city center but until that happens, about two million or more people continue to jostle to go in and out of this shoe some for reasons such as to buy sugar! Having come from miles away!!

Natural assets: It is here that I realised why exactly we never made the cut. And we are not about to unless the Nile is diverted to flow throw Nile Avenue. For a city to wow the judges here, its record in terms of natural features and protected areas around the city had to be outstanding. The researchers relied on Google Earth satellite imagery and information from Open Street Map on this one. While Nairobi has a national park among a number of other such places to offer, my Kampala will wow you with its inability to have any. And I am not joking.

Cultural assets: Kasubi Tombs being the closest to Kampala would have got us a point here. This parameter sought to establish the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the vicinity of the given city. And those tombs are yet to be rebuilt from ashes. I mean to make no Buganda loyalists’ eyes teary so let’s move on.

Connectivity: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is to Nairobi as …………………. is to Kampala. This is one of those where I just moved on. The nearest airport to the capital is nearly 40km away. You now see why we deserve not even the slot Tehran the city termed as the worst to live in (the likely blasts aside). By connectivity, the cities were ranked by the number of cities that can be reached by plane from that city and the average number of flights from that city.

Some of the other factors included; isolation: number of large cities near a city and pollution: using World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Air Pollution in Cities database to calculate air quality with a concentration of particulate matter of over 10 micrometres.

So yes, while many Kenyans might find it hard to believe (others are finding the humor in the story), Kampala dwellers and Ugandans ought to be mourning and thinking hard on how to make things better. In the pothole capital where sewage outbreaks, teargas clouds and nice weather (plus so much more) call home, we are not even good enough to make the list of worst cities to live in globally.

Top 10 Best Cities To Live in Globally:

1. Hong Kong
2. Amsterdam
3. Osaka
4. Paris
5. Sydney
6. Stockholm
7. Berlin
8. Toronto
9. Munich
10. Tokyo

*runs through list AGAIN to see if there’s any from Africa*

Top 10 Worst Cities to Live in Globally

1. Tehran
2. Nairobi (whose picture is included in this article)
3. Lusaka
4. Phnom Penh
5. Karachi
6. Dakar
7. Abidjan
8. Dhaka
9. Lagos
10. Harare. *notice 6 out of the 10 worst cities are African!!!!! 😦 😦 :(*

N.B. According to Smartplanet, the rankings combined EIU’s popular “Liveability Index” with a new measure that focuses on spatial characteristics. The “Spatially Adjusted Livability Index” takes into account the above seven characteristics.

Follow @songastone



  1. There is something about My Kampala. With all its Potholes, Sewage bursts, Dust, Congestion, Garbage and best of all weekly Tabloid and Political Drama Kampala feels like Home not just because its home but there is something about Kampala that even Kenyans in their beloved Nairobi (Where I have never been) with its clean planned streets and people so hard working that one of them does the work 7 Ugandans do prefer Uganda. I dont know why we didn’t make the list but if its any reason We are the Pearl of Africa

  2. You are so interesting! I do not think I’ve truly read anything like that before. So good to discover someone with original thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!

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