Kachumbala Maternity Ward, Kachumbala

Designed by: HKS
For client: Kachumbala Maternity Unit Board and Bukedea District Council Floor area: 200.00 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for:

Public Score
4.52 Function
4.49 Innovation
4.54 Creativity
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About the Project

Kachumbala is an impoverished area in eastern Uganda, home to 160,000 people with limited access to healthcare. The region’s only existing maternity ward could not accommodate all of the region’s expectant mothers, leaving many to stay home and give birth. Those who did travel to the ward often had to be moved out into the hallway to recover on a cement floor. As a result, the region suffers from a high infant and maternal mortality rate

When the First Minister for Wales visited Kachumbala in 2014, the local municipality set him a challenge: to reduce neonatal and maternal mortality by improving maternity provision in this remote area. The brief was to design a new maternity unit able to serve its people with the materials, utilities, and construction techniques available on-site.

The objectives were to:

• reduce number of home births
• increase medical supervision
• ensure new mothers remain in the Centre for 24 hours
• promote importance of primary healthcare

Just three-and-a-half years later, a £110,000 unit serving a population of 60,000 opened, the result of a collaboration between HKS and Engineers for Overseas Development, a Wales-based non-profit that trains young apprentices in the building trades. The project involved the design and construction of two labour suites, a nine-bed ward, staff offices and support facilities and an extension to the existing Health Unit.

What’s unique about it

Furthering the challenge of expanding the regional maternity ward: Kachumbala does not have a reliable source of electricity and water. To construct the new unit, we needed to devise a fully passive building, created with vernacular construction methods. If any construction required a bolted connection, it had to be pre-fabricated elsewhere and transported to the site.

We tested the design with the assistance of UK-based health professionals, who also provided midwife support and training for local healthcare providers. We analyzed the design’s circulation, flows and equipment needs for practicality and designed patient and visitor area circulation to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Equipment consultation was particularly insightful, because we learned that anything we specified for the building had to be able to be serviced or replaced locally. Any items that would require parts to be shipped or replaced elsewhere simply wouldn’t work for this project.

The women of Kachumbala now have access to a maternity unit fit for a new mother and her baby. With two delivery suites, a seven-bed recovery ward and a separate two-bed isolation room, they are guaranteed privacy during delivery and can stay for 24 hours or more, and they do – some for as long as three days.

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HKS and Engineers for Overseas Development have built a maternity unit in Uganda, using l

Location of project:

Engineers for Overseas Development

Cyfle Building Skills

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