Use of play parks in Lusaka city

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Nawa, Mushiba
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The University of Zambia
The study examined the use of play parks in Lusaka City. Lusaka incorporated play parks in its city’s plan based on Ebenezer Howard’s ‘Garden City’ Concept as a way of beautifying the city and benefiting from a number of attributes relating to people’s mental health, social, environmental, physical and economic life. Despite these immense benefits, it is not clear how people use play parks in Lusaka City. Thus, this study sought to find out how people in Lusaka City utilise play parks and establish the factors which influence their use. The study further examined the extent to which people used play parks in the city and whether there were differences in this use across different segments of the urban population, seeing that there is no policy guiding play park services in Zambia. The three play parks which were selected for this study were Joy Park and Gardens, located in Matero, Libala Play Park in Libala Stage II and Havillah Play Park and Gardens in Rhodes Park. A case study approach was followed, using both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten key informants who were purposively sampled, while a questionnaire survey was used to collect data from forty-five play park visitors who were conveniently sampled. Qualitative data was analysed using thematic and content analysis, whereas quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics. The study findings indicate that play parks in Lusaka City are used for social, spiritual, economical, physical activity and bio-diversity reasons. The study findings show that people’s use of play parks is mainly determined by the quality of a play park (44.1%), availability of facilities (10.1%), accessibility (7.3%) and safety of a play park (11%). Others (27.5%) visit play parks because of the natural and undisturbed environment found at the play park which offers them escape (refugee) from fast paced urban life and an opportunity to reflect. The main users of play parks are families, school-going children and college students, work groups and religious groups. These groups of people utilise play parks based on their levels of education, occupation and income status. The study findings show that people from Medium Density Areas use play parks the most and the majority of play park visitors are in formal employment. Further, most play park visitors have either secondary education (51.1%) or tertiary education (35.1%). Lusaka City Council (LCC) has leased all its play parks to the private sector, but the lack of policy on the use of play parks has adversely affected the efficiency and effectiveness in running these play parks. The study recommends the formulation of policy to clearly set out rules and expectations for the delivery of play park services to the public. Key Words: Play Parks; Use; Havillah; Libala, Joy; Lusaka