The idea: 8M Skilling Centre presents an idea of The 3 Generation Home (3GH).
The last time I visited my relatives and friends in 2018, I slept in this 3GH in Plzen City, Chechia, Europe. The 3GH is a three-story apartment that houses three generations belonging to one family:
• The grandfather and grandmother;
• Their daughter, her husband, and three children;
• Their son, his wife, and two children.
They incorporated space for their other daughter, who often visits the family, together with her husband and a son. Knowing how Ugandans love to copy, particularly from Europe and the USA, I “stole” the idea, wondering whether it could be copied wholesale or, for once, discarded if not feasible. The ugly catch? Cultural values override economic values in Uganda!
The 3-Generation Home (3GH) plan in Europe:
The plot is massive, about 60 meters by 40 meters. This is about 0.24ha or 0.59 acres, commonly known as 59 decimals. It was an amalgamation of 3 plots of 20×13.3 meters each, or 20 decimals each. On one corner of the ground floor is the grandparents’ simple apartment. It comprises a spacious sitting room with a kitchen and a dining, a bathroom, and a small store. There is a very big verandah, where all the 3 generations meet as and when they want. The verandah commands the compound view of a swimming pool and a play area. There is space that was developed for common facilities of; heating the house in winter, laundry, electricity, and water connections. Around it are indoor spaces for children to play and for maintenance of the house.
In another corner is a drive with a staircase, which lets in occupants of the upper floors without interrupting their peace or that of the grandparents. The 3 bedroom apartments on the first and second floors are identical. They have a sitting room with a spacious balcony commanding a good compound view. There is also a kitchen with a store and a common bathroom for everyone.
The social, cultural, and economic advantages and barriers:
What struck me was that the family opted for economic advantages against overwhelming social and cultural barriers, as practical in Uganda. I was told that the grandparents had secured the initial capital, using their savings and a bank loan. However, they first held a meeting with the young families and agreed to co-own the home. In this regard, the plan was designed to suit the 3 generation type of co-existence. By agreement, everyone was to pay equally the costs of development and maintenance. The operation costs of heating the building in winter, water, electricity, and any other bills were also to be shared according to consumption. The big children were in effect paying rent to their parents, but which was transformed into equity to own their part of the building!
I asked the son and daughter in-laws if they were free to stay with their parents’ in-laws. Surprisingly, each said that they were used, though it was not so easy from the start. They had learned to look at the bigger picture.
The bigger picture?
The children were having a blast! They went up and down freely visiting their cousins and grandparents. The parents helped each other in many ways. If one or two heads of a family needed to be away, their children were automatically taken care of by the other parents. The grandparents enjoyed the care and comfort of their children, young and old. I mused over the idea, recalling that our communities lived in a similar setup before colonialism, though sons-in-law would be the exemption. Here was a similar idea being practiced in Europe with an incredible innovation!
The 3 GH experiment in Uganda?
Back in Uganda, staff of the 8M Construction Digest and students of project management, architecture, and structural design have assisted to draft a concept of a 3 GH for Kampala. It is an open fact that many aging grandparents are partly lacking care because of our cultural values that are placed before economic and social advantages.
The questions to answer may be:
What are the disadvantages and advantages of staying together in 3GHs?
• How would the European 3GH alluded here be considered or improved upon to work in Uganda?
• What are the losses in living the way Ugandans do, what would be the social, cultural, or economic losses, in the event of a change?
The 8M Skilling Centre in association with 8M Construction Digest is researching this 3GH idea. We have drafted a plan for extensive discussion, hopefully, one that could be used to serve the economic, cultural, and social wishes of Ugandans.
When ready, we intend to invite policymakers, professionals such as psychiatrists, social scientists, developers, and families with a need to plan long-term. The task will be:
• Either copy and paste the 3GH.
• To copy, improve and paste.
•To discard the 3GH entirely!
by Eng. Hans JWB Mwesigwa (Narrator), Birungi Beatrice (Contributor), Kobuyambi Shona (Contributor) and Businge Daniel (Contributor)