An analysis of public outdoor children play spaces in Kampala
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"There is no effective right to play without a safe space to play" - Child Friendly Cities This research analyzed selected public outdoor children play spaces in Kampala in order to determine whether they are suited to the needs of both the children in Kampala and their caretakers. Play is important to the social, intellectual and physical development of children while providing an activity that strengthens community bonds. In the rapidly growing city of Kampala, the availability of publicly accessible, safe, inclusive and free community spaces for children to play appears to be dismal. According to the KCCA Strategic Plan 2014/ 15 - 2018/19, most residential neighborhoods in the city lack public open space, gardens, parks and playgrounds. The few developed and maintained ones are located in the city center and appear to be closed off. There is a certain demographic of children that can access the commercialized playgrounds within Kampala but these leave out the children of the urban poor as well as some middle income families. Kampala appears to have developed vertically, leaving no playable space for children in the city. It was therefore important to investigate whether children are taken into consideration as cities develop formally or informally and how the existing play facilities can be added to or enhanced in order to cater to the needs of the children of different demographics and their caretakers. The research took a qualitative approach and specifically employed exploratory and descriptive methods in order to establish how the play spaces were utilized and the challenges that the users experienced. It employed the case study approach to three public spaces in Kampala; Centenary Park, Kitintale Skate Park and Nakawa Park. The findings of this research exposed the lack of public play spaces for children and the inadequacy of the existing ones. There was lack of play equipment, user amenities and supervision and the children spaces were comparatively fewer than adult spaces. The study however also revealed that there were some benefits to children and caretakers offered by those play spaces. Therefore, is is important for the city to include more informed design towards child specific places in order to cater to the developmental needs of the children and to the practical needs of their caretakers.