Case #2181.4

The “Garbage Lady” Cleans Up Kampala: Turning Quick Wins into Lasting Change Practitioner Guide

Publication Date: June 30, 2020
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This practitioner guide accompanies HKS Case 2181.0. In 2011, at the newly formed Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Judith Tumusiime, an impassioned technocrat who prided herself on operating outside of politics, was charged with transforming a “filthy city” to a clean, habitable, and healthy one. Early in her tenure, she was able to vastly improve Kampala’s solid waste management (SWM) system by creating efficiencies, increasing accountability, and bringing her technical know-how to a team that held little expertise. But by 2015, after several years of strong momentum, Tumusiime felt that her progress was stalling, and she faced political challenges around creating a sustainable SWM system. More specifically, her team was grossly overextended and needed to assign some of its SWM responsibilities to private contractors through an innovative public-private partnership (PPP). To ensure that the PPP was viable, Tumusiime believed that all residents, no matter their income, needed to pay garbage collection fees.

However, the federal and local elections were approaching in February 2016, and politicians had told their constituents that they would not allow garbage collection fees, leaving Tumusiime with little support for her long-term vision. She was faced with a challenge: she could either dive into a political world that she had never wanted anything to do with to see if she could achieve radical change, or she could continue to make tweaks that might achieve short-term, small improvements at a slow—and even halting—pace.

Learning Objective:
The Educator Guide offers three areas of focus: policy issue, strategic challenge, leadership dilemma, or on multiple objectives.

Policy issue focus: operating basic services in a developing city

  • exploring policy challenges associated with managing basic services, specifically where you have a large, complicated problem, scarce resources, and a highly charged political environment marred by corruption

Strategic challenge focus: gaining support around improving processes and convincing stakeholders that the status quo is more concerning than the innovation
exploring approaches to improve and innovate a response

  •  thinking critically and creatively about generating support to produce strategic outcomes using the Strategic Triangle
  • imagining strategic alternatives and applying to participants' own challenges

Leadership dilemma focus: understanding difficult decisions related to leadership values

  • naming and assessing leadership values (personal, professional, and public service values)
  •  reflecting on the collision of leadership values, especially when required to make value tradeoffs


Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Author(s):
Jorrit de Jong and Lisa Cox
Faculty Leads:
Jorrit de Jong
Pages (incl. exhibits):
Funding Source:
Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative