Urban Greening Challenges in Kampala City.
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Urban green parks, composed of open green space and recreation grounds, tree lined avenues play a major role in improving the health and well-being of population in cities and towns. However, with rapid population growth and property development not conforming to plan, a number of public parks have been encroached on by private developers. Unless strong action is taken, public open spaces in Uganda’s urban areas are in danger of extinction. This study focuses on the situation in the nation’s capital, Kampala central business district and the challenges faced by green spaces. The population of Kampala Metropolitan Area is currently estimated at three million and is projected to grow to five million in the next ten years. Early in 2013, Kampala City Capital Authority (KCCA) commenced a drive to recover and rehabilitate public green and open spaces in the city. The new physical plan for Kampala maps out public green and open spaces in the wider Kampala metropolitan area. In November 2013, KCCA repossessed the Sheraton Hotel Gardens and plans to improve and revert it to public use as an open park. The KCCA also plans to recover from private developers another three gazeted public parks close to the city Centre including Centenary Park, Wandegeya and Kamwokya Children’s public parks. But while these efforts are commendable, there are a number of challenges that will be discussed below that is because of the growing population whereby the built-up places have covered the green spaces. The gazeted parks in the inner city, which are the primary focus, were set up in the early 19th century when there were vastly fewer residents in the city, and can best be described as “pocket parks” because of their small size. Information on about whether these small parks adequately serve the rapidly growing city and population is lacking. The problem is further compounded by a lack of understanding of park availability in the outer divisions, especially where low-income people reside. A clear, common understanding of the purpose of urban public parks has yet to emerge in public discussions. Parks are largely viewed as places for children to play, adults to sit or lie down to relax, and beautification spots for the city. While this could be attributed to the focus on old small parks, it is not clear how the wetlands planned for parks are will be used to preserve biodiversity, reduce air pollution and provide recreation and physical activities for children, adolescents and adults.