Utilization and management of public recreational parks in Addis Ababa

Seminar Paper, 2019

99 Pages


Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures



1.1. Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Basic Research Questions
1.4 Objectives of the Study
1.4.1 General Objectives
1.4.2 Specific Objectives
1.5 Significances of the Study
1.6 Scope of the research
1.7 Limitation of the Study
1.9 Dissemination Strategy
1.10 Organization of the Study

2.1. Introduction
2.2. Definition of Public Recreational Parks
2.3 The Importance of Public Recreational Parks for City Residents
2.3.1. The Public Health Benefits of Parks
2.3.2. The Social Benefits of Parks
2.4. Factors Contributing to Underutilization of Public Recreational Parks
2.4.1 Design of the Park
2.4.2. Accessibility as a Factor
2.4.3. Geographic Accessibility and Perceived Accessibility
2.4.4. Sense of Welcome and Context as Factors
2.4.5. Activities Undertaken by Visitors in Parks as Factors
2.5. Use of Indicators in Recreation Park Management
2.6. Challenges in the Managing Recreational Parks
2.7. Empirical Review
2.8. Conceptual Framework

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Description of the Public Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa
4.3. Research Design and Approach
3.4. Population and Sampling
3.4.1. Population and Sampling Frame
3.4.2. Sampling Techniques and Sample Size
3.5. Data Type and Sources
3.6. Data Collection Instruments
3.6.1. Questionnaire
3.6.2. Interview
3.6.3. Field Observation
3.7. Data Analysis
3.7.1. Quantitative Data Analysis
3.7.2. Qualitative Data Analysis
3.8. Data Presentation
3.9. Operational Definition of Variables
3.9.1. Independent Variables
3.9.2. Dependent Variable
3.10. Ethical Considerations

4.1 Introduction
4.2 Reliability and Validity of the Instrument
4.3. Data Presentation and Analysis
4.3.1. Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Respondents
4.3.2. The Practice of Public Recreational Park Management
4.3.3. Factors Affecting the Utilization of Recreational Park
4.3.5. Challenges of Public Recreational Parks
4.3.6. Mann-Whitney Test Results

5.1. Introduction
5.2. Summary of Findings
5.3 Conclusion
5.4 Recommendations


List of Tables

Table 4.1: Samples of Public Recreational Parks, and Employees

Table 4.2: Total Number of Employees of the Agency and Sample Sub-City Offices

Table 4.3: Park’s Management Practices

Table 4.4: Mode of entrance to Recreation Parks

Table 4.5: Response of Park Users on feeling safe while visiting the Park

Table 4.6: Means of Transportation of Park Users to arrive to the Park

Table 4.7: Experience of Park Users on Visit Partnership

Table 4.8: Main Reason for Visiting the Recreational Park

Table 4.9: Frequency of Recreational Park Usage

Table 4.10: Perception on Additional facilities that the Park Users Demanding to be Availed in the Recreational Parks

Table 4.11: Perception on Facilities (conditions) disgusting the Park Users

Table 4.12: Satisfaction of the Park Users on the Recreational Park Services

Table 4.13: Respondents Perception on Challenges of Public Recreational Parks

List of Figures

Figure 1: Sex of Respondents

Figure 2: Age of Respondents

Figure 3: Monthly Income of the Park Users

Figure 4: Occupational Status of the Park Users


PCDA Parks and Cemetery Development and Administration Agency

CBPDA Cleaning, Beautification and Parks Development Agency

GTP Growth and Transformation Plan

RBGDA River Basin, Green Area Development and Administration Agency

TVET Technical & Vocational Education and Training

UNDP United Nations Development Program


This research aims to assess the practices and challenges of the utilization and management of Public Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa City Government. For the sake of achieving the objectives of this study, data were collected using questionnaires, interview and focus group and field observation and were analyzed using statistical analysis such as descriptive Analysis, Statistical Tests Mann-Whitney Test (U-test), Kurskal Wallis test and Regression Analysis: Binary Logit were used to analyze the data. The information gleaned through questionnaire from a sample of 271 Public Recreational Parks, and Employees from Bihere-Tsige Park, Sheger Park Yeka Park, Gola Park, Addis Ketema and Park Kolfe Park. Moreover, information also gathered through questionnaires from 54 Employees of the Agency and Sample Sub-City Offices. A face-to-face interview was conducted with 6 managers of Public Recreational Parks . The six Recreational Parks were selected purposively based on their performance indicating the service facilities and number of visitors and the lists are taken from different sub-cities to make variation. Samples of visitors were selected using purposive sampling technique. While employees of in the agency and sub-city office (the entire population) are since very small, census was applied to consider all the population as the respondents. Based on findings, recommendations emanating from the study are forwarded to build up the address the utilization and management of Public problems of Recreational Parks such as t he integration of the relevant institutions at city level specifically of the Agency with Bureau of Land Development and Management should be improved for the success of the public recreational park projects specifically, and success of the development plans of the city in general. It was also recommended to improve social services to the residents. Besides, there is also a need to formulate clear and updated policy and guideline to provide standard services to maximum utilization of existing recreational parks, safe guarding recreational parks from being changed to other urban land uses and set a strategy to reclaim the already grabbed open spaces.



1.1. Background of the Study

In the 21 century, Public Recreational Parks are emerging as one of the most important spaces in the urban fabric. They are multi-purpose Public spaces in the city that offer social, economic, and environmental benefits (Urban Park Online, 2001). They help to enhance the image of a city, and improve the quality of urban life. Most cities have urban Parks, and these have become important and valuable urban spaces. People come to them for recreation, social gathering, and passive enjoyment. One of the places where urban residents of a country spend their leisure time is Recreation Park. Urban recreation Parks are a type of urban open space, which often provide play and sports areas, recreation facilities and entertainment (Torkildsen, 2005).

Historically, the modern concept of the urban Park started in the early 19th century in the Western world during the Industrial Revolution (Banyikwa, 2005). At this early stage, planners recognized that Public Recreational Parks were important features that could improve the quality of urban life, which declined during the rapid industrialization of this time. Parks became places to escape from the stresses of chaotic industrial cities. The idea swept the United States, England, and mainland Europe. Cities in Sweden, Denmark and Holland started to develop Public Recreational Parks to improve the quality of their cities (Yuen, 1995). Planners began to see Public Recreational Parks as places that could increase the tranquility and comfort of urban life by providing a space for citizens to escape from the squalor and stress that characterized much of their daily routine. In the late 19th century, Public Recreational Parks started to be developed at Public expense (Banyikwa, 2005; Yuen, 1995).

Coming to African context, a number of such Public Parks and Recreational facilities have been developed during colonial and post-colonial time in the continent. During the pre-independence period in Africa, many plans that used Garden City concepts and other emergent theories were adopted by East African countries. These plans resulted in the current cities of Dar-es-salaam, Nairobi and Kampala (Banyikwa, 2005). Indeed in 1948, the Master Plan for the City of Nairobi was developed by South African experts and was based on a neighbourhood concept (Thornton-White et al, 1948). At the same time, Sir Alexander Gibbs planned Dar-es-salaam in Tanzania (Banyikwa, 2005) in more or less the same style. Omolo-Okalebo et al. (2010), state that the historical association between the planning of Kampala City and colonialism is unquestioned, and that his studies indicate that the spatial structure of Kampala is partly a unique product of European colonial planning, and their inherent ideas and principles.

In spite of the fact, Recreational Public Parks in Africa are facing different types of problems in utilization and management aspect. For instance, a study by Das and Honiba (2016), on evaluation of accessibility challenges of Public Parks in residential areas of South African urban areas, it has been observed that except for a few major and organized ones, the others are barely utilized. The reason of underutilization of the Public Parks are attributed to many factors that include lack of amenities, inappropriate location, lack of attractiveness, lack of accessibility, behavioral issues like lack of time and life style, social issues like crime or fear of crime to name a few (Thornton-White et al.. 1948).

Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, is a fast-developing city. The city, being the seat for the African Union and having an international image, needs to meet international standards in many aspects. One of these aspects is its urban environment. The condensed part of the city is the major image and the overall face that characterizes the city. The quality of life inside the city is also another aspect (Kebedde, 2004).

Concerning the management of Recreational Parks, there are two types of Parks in Addis Ababa; Public and private administered Parks. The Public Parks are managed and administered by Beautification, Parks and Cemetery Development and Administration Agency. This agency was established as one of Addis Ababa city government executive and municipal service organ by Addis Ababa City Government Executive and Municipal Service Organs Re-establishment Proclamation No. 15/2009. This agency was first established as Cleaning, Beautification and Parks Development Agency (CBPDA) in 2003 (AACMO, 2019).

Most Parks in Addis Ababa were established in the 1970s. In spite of a long span of time, they lack maintenance and fail to address the interest of visitors in these days (Tensaye, 2017). According to the survey conducted by Addis Ababa Beautification, Parks and Cemetery Development and Administration Agency (2017), there are about 19 Publicly managed Parks in Addis Ababa including those under reconstruction. These are Yeka Park, Ferensay Park, Kaleb Park, Bihere-Tsige Park, Peacock Park, Gola Park, Teklehaimanot Park, Lideta Park, Ambassador Park, Anbesa Gibi Park, Hamle 19 Park, Korea Park, Sheger Park, Kolfe Park, Holland Park, Millennium Park, Akaki Park, Gedame Eyesus (or Addis Ketema) Park and Ma’da-Egziabherab Park. In addition to those mentioned above, there are also 6 privately managed Parks in Addis Ababa; namely: Africa Park, Ethio-Cuba Park, Future Park, Tropical Garden, Mulugeta Park and Shalla Park.

The study conducted by Tensaye (2017) on the Recreational value of Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa by taking the case of Hamle 19 and Future Parks concluded that Public Recreational Parks in the city were mainly used for weddings, graduation and other community activities. Besides, they are used by the local people as relaxing areas, reading areas and meeting places. The findings of the study also revealed that the management of these Recreational Parks is relatively good. But it is not properly managed when it comes to the use of the spaces. Although it is not allowed to use drugs and other kinds of addictive relaxation types in the Parks, people use the Parks for different purposes that are not legal such as chewing chat, using drugs and the like. This has kept the use of the Parks to a limited number of people.

The finding of the survey conducted by the Addis Ababa Government Parks and Cemetery Development and Administration Agency (2017) indicated that lack of clear enforcement laws, regulations and senses of belongingness of the community to protect Public Parks were considered as challenges in utilization and management of Public Parks in the city. Furthermore, the survey underlined that there is no specific legal framework in the management of Public Parks in the city. Nevertheless, the assessment indicated the existence of general legal frameworks such as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Constitution, Environmental Policy of Ethiopia, Urban Development Policy of Ethiopia and urban planning Proclamations No 574/2008 which contains general provisions about the development and management of urban environments.

In light of the above background, the intention of this study is to examine the utilization and management practices & challenges of the existing Public Parks of Addis Ababa city and to contribute some solutions to solve the existing challenges.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The importance of the Public Parks in urban areas is uncontested from the health and environment point of view. Public Parks fulfill psychological needs for a community that promotes socio-cultural aspects and strengthen the individual health through different sorts of Recreational activities (Henderson, 2013; Solecki & Welch, 1995).

However, in Ethiopia the services given to the public from the existing Public Recreational Parks are limited due to various problems in utilization and management practices. For instance, a study by Yeshewazerf (2017) on the practice and challenges of Recreational Parks in Ethiopia revealed that services and facilities at the Parks are poor and they are poorly maintained. Lack of finance, inadequate professional personnel and absence of policies and guidelines for service provision are also mentioned as the main problems resulting in poor service and facility. However, this study identified only the practice and challenges of Public Parks in Hawassa city. Moreover, the author has underlined the necessity of undertaking a similar study in another context.

Besides, Maru (2015) revealed that the green coverage is drastically decreasing as construction of buildings was undertaken at the expense of open and green areas. The city parks lack sufficient facilities for children, adolescents and adults to play and recreate in a healthy environment. The extent of the problem is so severe that most of the children of the city are obliged to play on the road, thereby highly exposing themselves to the risk of becoming victims of car accidents, to bad street culture and to health problems and injuries. This study was not specifically focused on digging out the challenges with the existing Public Parks rather on open spaces in general and more emphasis was given in analyzing implementation problem of ideal Public Parks.

Similarly, a study conducted by Samson (2015) on urban green infrastructure in Addis Ababa by taking the case of Bole sub city indicated that the city has faced sorts of challenges in utilization and management of urban green areas. This study found such major problems as lack of community participation, uncoordinated efforts and weak integration of different stakeholders, and low public awareness towards developing; managing and utilizing Public Parks for the intended values. They prefer to use these places for illegal activities like dumping solid wastes, chewing chat and so forth. But this study emphasized more about urban green areas in general and little emphasis was given to urban Parks. Moreover, its geographical scope is limited only to Bole sub-city.

Fekadu (n.d.), indicated that some of the Parks are used as business centers, like Ambassador Park; for some years this Park was transferred to business man on contract basis and had been providing food and alcoholic beverages. As a result, the only customers who had visited the Park were those who could afford the costs thereof. Thus, this Park missed the target of Public Parks to provide recreational services with free or low cost to all residents of the City. The study was not on the utilization and management of the Parks; rather it focused on the development of Public Recreational Parks. Also the method employed was merely qualitative. Similarly, the survey conducted by Addis Ababa Beautification, Parks and Cemetery Development and Administration Agency (2017) found out that the sale of alcoholic drinks in the cafeteria of Sheger Park, Yeka and Ambassador Park are the challenges that the Agency is confronting regarding mismanagement of the Parks. One of the reasons for this end is lack of legal framework indeed stipulating the mandate of the agency regarding the management of the services provided by Recreational Park.

According to the survey conducted by Addis Ababa Beautification, Parks and Cemetery Development and Administration Agency (2017), problems with regard to management of closed Public Parks are shortage of water facilities in the Parks, poor quality (or substandard) of the services provided, shortage of human resources, inadequate provision of tools for the Park beautification, utilities in the Park’s cafeteria are not timely maintained when they become out of service, and the sale of alcoholic drinks in the Park cafeteria. In addition, the existences of some bureaus of the city government having different mission in the compound of the enclosed Recreational Parks are another challenge hindering the management practice of the Parks. For instance: there is Vital Events Registration Bureaus in the compound of Sheger, Yeka and Churchill Recreational Parks. The survey was conducted through the use of qualitative approach only and was survey type than action research.

Furthermore, according to the annual report of the Addis Ababa Beautification, Parks and Cemetery Development and Administration Agency (2018), the major challenges in utilization and management of Public Parks are: low attention given to the sector by top leaders of the city government, inadequate budget allocation, absence of precise legal framework to manage the overall activities of the Parks and low level awareness of the residents concerning the value of Recreational green areas.

The above researches gave due emphasis to urban green areas rather than to the enclosed Recreational Public Parks. Thus, Public Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa have received little attention from researchers and few researches conducted are not specific to identifying the practice and challenges in utilization and management of Public Parks in the city.

Therefore, the major intention of this study was to investigate utilization and management of Public Recreational Parks underlying the practice and challenges in Addis Ababa city and to identify interventions necessary for the gaps that have been identified in provision of Recreational services.

1.3 Basic Research Questions

The study attempted to answer the following research questions.

1. What does the current management practice of Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa city look like?
2. What are the factors that determine the utilization of Public Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa city?
3. What are the factors that determine the satisfaction of Recreational Park user?
4. What are the prevailing challenges of managing Recreational Parks in the city?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

1.4.1 General Objectives

The main objective of the study is to assess the practices and challenges of the utilization and management of Public Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa City Government.

1.4.2 Specific Objectives

Specifically, this study is intended to:

1. investigate the current management practice of Recreational Parks in the city
2. assess the factors that determine the utilization of Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa city
3. to examine the factors that determine the satisfaction of Recreational Park user
4. identifying the prevailing challenges of managing Recreational Parks in the city

1.5 Significances of the Study

The central theme of this paper is to assess the practices and challenges in utilizing and managing of Public Recreational Parks in the Addis Ababa City Government. Hence the findings of this study are useful to the below identified stakeholders in particular.

To Addis Ababa City Government: It helps the city government to identify major challenges of leadership in managing Public Parks of the city and it also enables the city administration to know what kind(s) of policies, strategies, and solutions should be framed.

To Beautification, Greenery and Cemetery Agency: Importantly, the finding of the study is expected to give appropriate information for leaders of the study area to use as evidence to take suitable measure against the challenges in managing the development and utilization of Public Parks.

To Future Researchers: It will use as a reference for those who are interested to conduct further study on the problem. It will also be an indicative document and may develop empirical data.

1.6 Scope of the research

The issues of Public Parks are very wide. These could be streets, city Parks, cemeteries, squares, national Parks and the like. Thus, this study is delimited to the existing enclosed Public Recreational Parks administered by Addis Ababa City government. The issue addressed in the study is the utilization and management of Public Recreational Parks in Addis Ababa City by identifying the existing practices and challenges.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

In undertaking this study, the researchers confronted some limitations associated with data gathering. As the visitors were coming to the park for relaxation, some were unwilling to give fill the questionnaire. To solve this problem, the researchers and other data gatherers were convinced the respondents by explaining the benefit of the research findings and made them to feel concerned when they participated in the process of gathering data. The other limitation was delaying of returning the questionnaire by respondents in sub-cities. In order to solve this challenge, the researchers adjusted extra time schedule through frequent follow up to fill and return the questionnaire.

1.8 Definition of Key Terms

This section provides definitions for some key terms that may appear frequently in the paper and would have relevance to the objective of the study.

Public Recreational Park is land that has been earmarked for Public use to facilitate outdoor Recreational activities (Solecki and Welch, 1995). The activities can be passive or active while catering to a broad range of user groups.

Active Recreational activities involve activities that are often done in teams and would require structured facilities such as sports fields to enable the activity to take place. Individual activities such as leisure walk and physical exercise similar to those in gyms would also fall under this term (Solecki and Welch, 1995).

Passive Recreational activities refer to activities that can either be done individually or in groups. These activities do not require structured facilities outdoor activities such as resting, seating, napping or even chatting would fall under this term (Solecki and Welch, 1995).

Enclosed Recreational Parks are defined as fenced and landscaped green areas intended for social and Recreational activities as well as aesthetic or display purposes (AABPCDA, 2019).

Special Function Parks: These are green spaces established for purposes other than recreation, but also provide recreation service. The Gulelle Botanic Garden (GBG) and the Addis Zoo Park (AZP) fall into this category (AABPCDA, 2019).

The Agency: Addis Ababa Government Parks and Cemetery Development and Administration Agency

1.9 Dissemination Strategy

Concerning the dissemination of research output to stakeholders, upon approval the final research report will be printed and availed to all body concerned. In addition, the printed hard copy will be placed in the Library of the Addis Ababa Meles Zenawi Management Institute. The findings will also be presented to relevant stakeholders including academics at a workshop or symposium that will be arranged by the Institute.

Moreover, in order to implement this action research evidence, in collaboration with the agency, researchers will formulate an intervention plan, follow up the implementation, evaluate the outcomes and develop further strategies in an iterative fashion.

1.10 Organization of the Study

This paper has been organized into five chapters. Chapter one comprises background of the study, statement of the problem, objective, significance, scope, and limitation of the study. Chapter two presents the review of related literature on theoretical framework, empirical studies and conceptual framework. The third chapter describes the study area, the research design and methods, including sources and instruments of data, sampling procedures and data analysis. Chapter four deals with presentation of data and discussion of the results of the study; and the fifth chapter provides summary of the major findings, conclusions and recommendations.



2.1. Introduction

This chapter provides review of relevant literature from different publications of scholars and documents that are related to the study. The chapter is divided in to three sub categories. The first part of the chapter presents the theoretical literature that are related to the utilization and management of Public Recreational Parks, the second part presents the empirical studies in the area of the utilization and management of Public Parks in different countries and the third part presents conceptual framework of the study.

2.2. Definition of Public Recreational Parks

The word ‘recreation’ is today's one of most commonly used phrases. Also, many people confuse the words recreation and leisure. Even though these two concepts are closely related to one, they have different meanings. In this case, the first question comes to mind what ‘recreation’ is. There are many definitions given to recreation.

Recreation can be defined as the evaluation of leisure which is freely chosen, made on voluntary basis, active or passive participation (Karakucuk & Gurbuz, 2007; Lu & Hu, 2005; Stebbins, 2005). Broadhurst (2001) defined recreation as participating on activities in leisure time. These activities may have physical, social or emotional content. Recreation consists of any activity persisted during leisure. It can be free or done for fun (Neumeyer & Neumeyer, 1958). Recreation involves many leisure pursuits, such as sports, arts, reading. Kraus and Curtis (1982) stressed that recreation comprise of some experiences carried on free time, either for pleasure or to achieve certain desirable physical, social or emotional outcomes. If it is supported by Public or voluntary agencies, it must be planned to achieve goals for participants and for the community Broadhurst (2011).

There is a dual view of urban Public Parks, the traditional and the new. The traditional view - still widely valid in many societies - considers them as providers of Recreational activities and opportunities. The new view exceeds the traditional value of Parks and considers the broader contributions the Public Recreational Parks can make to the vitality and well-being of communities and their residents and focuses on how policymakers, practitioners and the Public can consider Parks as valuable contributor to larger urban policy objectives; such as job opportunities, youth development, Public health, and community building (Walker, 2004; Garcia, 2004; Lloyd & Auld, 2003).

They constitute an integral part for modern urban active and passive recreation. Although urban Recreational Parks have always been a part of cities, they now compete with other places of leisure such as malls and playgrounds.

2.3 The Importance of Public Recreational Parks for City Residents

Existing research demonstrates the benefits of city Parks. Generally, the literature verifies that they improve physical and psychological health, strengthen communities, and make cities and neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work (Sherer, 2006). The presence of natural areas contributes to the quality of life in many ways. Besides, many environmental and ecological services, urban nature provide important social and psychological benefits to human societies, which enrich human life with meanings and emotions (Henderson, 2014).

Public Recreational Parks have also been found to play a critical role in increasing physical activity and improving well-being among urban residents (Lafortezza et al., 2009). More recently, an increasing number of countries have noted an increase in obesity among urban residents due to their highly sedentary lifestyle coupled with excessive, unhealthy food consumption as well as dependence on motorized transportation (Pauleit & Duhme, 2000). Doyle et al. (2006) further supports this statement and indicates that urban sprawl can exacerbate a sedentary lifestyle. An active lifestyle is important as it reduces the chances of heart related diseases and diabetes and thus contributes to better health. As a consequence, Recreational Park users tend to be more physically active through using the facilities, particularly if the Recreational Park is in close proximity and easily accessible to the users (Henderson, 2014).

Public Recreational Parks provide Recreational sites that are easily accessible and in close proximity to places of work residents and residential environments. However, studies indicate that facilities and services provided by a Park, influence the number and types of users it is likely to attract or repel (Ozguner, 2011). For example, a Recreational Park with more sports facilities attracts a younger generation compared to a Recreational Park with more playgrounds for children which attracts children and as a result attract their parents or guardians. Some studies have argued that demographic characteristics such as gender, educational level and social-economic status also influence the utilization of Public Recreational Parks (Kemperman & Timmermans, 2011). Tinsley et al.(2002) notes that people who have families tend to use Parks differently from people who do not have children and are younger, for example young people often visit Public Recreational Parks to meet friends and family while people with children utilize Public Recreational Parks to play with their children.

2.3.1. The Public Health Benefits of Parks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1996) reported that regular physical activity had been shown to increase health and reduce the risk of a wide range of diseases including heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer, and diabetes. Physical activity also relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety, improves mood, and enhances psychological well-being. Research also showed that contact with the natural world has improved physical and psychological health (CDCP, 1996; Sherer 2006).

Parks provide an outlet for increased opportunities of health and activity through active and passive recreation (Harnik & Welle 2011). The presence of a natural environment provides the added psychological relief that reduces the effects of stress and exhaustion (CDC).

Contact with the natural world has been shown to improve both physical and psychological health (TPL, 2006; Ulrich 2001). For example, Ulrich’s study revealed patients with tree views had shorter hospitalizations, less need for painkillers, and fewer negative comments in the nurses’ notes, compared with patients with brick-wall views (TPL, 2006). According to Sherer (2006) and Garvin (2000), green spaces in urban areas provide substantial environmental benefits. In particular, Scherer notes that the abundance of trees leads to a reduction in air and water pollution, while at the same time they keep cities cooler.

2.3.2. The Social Benefits of Parks

Literature show that people and communities require an outlet for self-expression and that Parks provide space for this outlet. For example, Garvin (2011) substantiated this when he examined the function of Parks as investments that are essential to the well-being of all citizens. Giddens (1984) also mentioned that individual action and social structure are mutually constitutive of each other.

Parks produce important social and community benefits. Sherer postulated that Parks make neighborhoods more livable and offer Recreational opportunities for young children, youth and low-income families. They provide places where people can feel a sense of community. There is an increased awareness of the importance of play and learning environments for child development; and an increased attention focused on specific outdoor space needs for the elderly, college students, and hospital patients and staff (Marcus and Francis, 1997). Children are the future of all communities. They require space and interaction to form social ties, and physical and intellectual development (Clayton and Opotow 2003; Sherer 2006). Parks encourage the development of stable neighborhoods with strong communities. Research shows that residents of neighborhoods with greenery in common spaces are more likely to enjoy stronger social ties than those who live surrounded by barren concrete (Sherer, 2006).

2.4. Factors Contributing to Underutilization of Public Recreational Parks

People’s perceptions play a significant role in the utilization of urban Parks. For instance, Erkip (1997) notes that when Recreational Park users feel insecure or sense that their personal space is threatened, they develop negative feelings towards a Recreational Park and its facilities thus are discouraging them from accessing and using the Park. This makes such Parks to be associated with negative emotions thus creating subconscious barriers. In addition, physical distance was also one of the major reasons urban residents failed to access and utilize Public Recreational Parks (Erdogan,2005).

2.4.1 Design of the Park

The benefits that urban residents gain from utilizing Recreational Park facilities are dependent on the design of the Park. According to Kemperman and Timmermans (2011) Recreational Park design should consider physical and emotional accessibility as one of the critical characteristics of the Park. Physical access includes users being able to reach the Park either on foot or using private cars, buses and taxis. Barriers such as fencing around the Park, unattractive facilities or the feeling of being insecure can compromise accessibility. Other factors that need to be considered in Park design include Park properties. Rabare et al. (2009) argued that the design, location and amenities played an essential role in attracting Recreational Park users. The facilities must respond to the complexities of social, cultural and physical needs of people from different cultures, age and gender. Although planners and designers of Public Recreational Parks are knowledgeable about design and the importance of such spaces, they do not always know or understand people’s needs especially where such needs keep shifting (Kemperman and Timmermans, 2011).

Recreational Park facilities should therefore provide for both active and passive activities for the users of all groups (age, gender and ethnicity). Some of the common facilities that need to be considered are lighting, signage, facilities that encourage an active lifestyle for both the young and the old; seating, trees, barbeque facilities, visible policing and Parking space. The facilities should be regularly serviced and maintained to sustain their attractiveness and durability (Rabare et al., 2009).

2.4.2. Accessibility as a Factor

One of the key issues in designing Public Recreational Parks is accessibility. It is an important factor in opening a Public space to diverse users. Neumeyer and Neumeyer (1978) define Recreational Public Parks as those that are usually open and have unrestricted access from all adjacent spaces. For a space to have unrestricted access, it must display certain physical, visual, and social characteristics (Vikas Mehta, 2014). To describe physical access Walker (2004), state that Public Recreational Parks should relate or link to pedestrian circulation systems. They caution that, if the linkages are not obvious, the spaces have been underused. Besides the link to pedestrian circulation systems, “Public Parks, particularly those for daily or weekly use, should be physically proximate to their users and connected to them by visible easy paths” and “the access should be short and direct” (p. 400).

In urban management, Park accessibility is therefore adopted as an important indicator to measure urban livelihood and quality of life (Byrne et al., 2009). The benefits that Parks offer to urban communities have also made Park access and use an important research theme. Some researchers examined Park access as a social equity problem, recognizing it as an important environment justice issue. For example, previous research found that there is a worldwide problem of inequitable distribution of Parks within cities, with low-income communities and people of colour often subject to poor access to green space, and degraded facilities (Byrne et al., 2009; Wolch et al., 2014). The issue was examined from the perspective of spatial distributional equity in many geographic studies (Hung et al., 2005; Talen and Anselin, 1998), compared to others who focused more on social inclusion and justice (Byrne and Wolch, 2009; Byrne et al., 2009). Park access may also be investigated from an individual perspective, such as individual barriers to physical activity and active lifestyle. For example, Roche et al (2009) found that higher perceptions of Park availability are significantly associated with higher levels of physical activities; or, from the perspective of urban development, previous studies suggested that Park-related policies significantly influence the form of urban settlement, highlighting the important impact of Park planning on urban forms (Elson, 1986; Longley et al., 1992).

With their significant role in an urban environment and typical features as Public facilities being taken into consideration, this study adopted local neighborhood Parks as its research context. Reviews of existing literature indicate an incomplete understanding about Park accessibility and its role in influencing Park visits. Although the relationship between access to Public Recreational Parks (e.g. distance, Park availability) and Park use has been recognized, little has been done to investigate the importance of accessibility dimensions (physical or socio-personal) in contributing to peoples’ perception of Park accessibility.

One of the reasons that users go to nearby Parks and wilderness is because they lack access to Parks that are further away. This reason is tied strongly to socio-economic factors. In this case, accessibility with economic status shows that access is not only a physical factor, but also a “psychological factor,” because people with low incomes may feel that they do not belong to a place because they do not have the proper amenities to get to it (Rabare et al., 2009).

2.4.3. Geographic Accessibility and Perceived Accessibility

Accessibility provides one of the key notions that describe the fundamental principles of human activities (Pirie, 1981) In this light, recent decades have witnessed increasing interest in examining the influence of Park accessibility on promoting Park utilization and participation in physical activities (Cohen et al., 2007; Coutts, 2008; Schipperijn et al., 2010; Wolff and Fitzhugh, 2011).

Similarly, previous studies found that respondents living in more deprived areas had higher potential physical access to green spaces reported poorer perceived accessibility and less frequent use (Jones et al., 2009; Macintyre et al., 2008a), suggesting that perceived accessibility might provide a more reliable approach to predict people’s Park use behavior.

Perceived access does not equate with geographic access (Boehmer et al., 2006; Scott et al., 2007) and may be more important in understanding and predicting human behavior (Kruger et al., 2007; Zondag and Pieters, 2005). Perceived accessibility measures the extent to which individuals consider the service is accessible to them, representing the subjective nature of the accessibility construct. While geographic measures are currently used as the most common method of measuring Park access, perceived accessibility has been highlighted for its ability to predict Park use as a measure of people’s overall evaluation about destination suitability (Joerin et al., 2005). Therefore, it is reasonable to consider perceived accessibility as the outcome of individual evaluation of diverse attributes of Park access (e.g., footpath connection, proximity, and transport), acting as a potential influential factor in Park use intention that ultimately leads to individual Park use behavior.

To date, complete knowledge about perceived accessibility is a notion that represents the subjective nature of the accessibility construct is lacking. Few efforts have been devoted to examining how the multiple accessibility dimensions and variables contribute to self-reported access to urban facilities. In Park studies, access to Parks has been identified as one of the important factors in shaping Park utilization. In addition, although existing literature has highlighted the relationship between perceived access to Park and Park use, few studies have examined people’s behavioral intention to use Parks and green spaces. Therefore, there is a need to develop a more complete understanding about accessibility from an individual perceptual level.

2.4.4. Sense of Welcome and Context as Factors

A sense of welcome is closely related to visual access, social access and surrounding context. Visual access is important to make people feel free to enter a space (Lafortezza et al 2009). Oguz (2000) and Lu & Hu (2005) explain that visual access is important for Public spaces, especially to prevent fear of crime and undesired activities. This especially is true among women and children. Another type of psychological access is symbolic access or social access. Symbolic access means that there are signs that indicate who is welcome and who is not welcome in the Parks. The sign might be in the form of a cultural symbol or the presence of security personnel. One way to avoid limited access due to cultural symbols is to present other symbols that make it clear that a place is open to the general Public, for example shops and vendors (Lafortezza et al, 2009).

One of the most important aspects of context is surrounding land use. A good understanding of surrounding land use helps designers improve accessibility (Stebbins, 2005 and Keen, 2007) for urban spaces to be successful surrounding land use should be comprised of mixed land uses, rather than a single one. If Parks are surrounded by mixed land uses, they may serve multiple functions because they are open to different kinds of activities. In addition, by having mixed land use, open spaces can attract a diverse group of users (Stebbins, 2005 and Keen, 2007).

2.4.5. Activities Undertaken by Visitors in Parks as Factors

People engage in different types of Recreational activities while in the Park. Activities can be either passive or active. The passive forms of recreation are activities that primarily include relaxing, contemplative or social in nature and they are, among others taking a walk, reading a book, bird-watching or generally include observation or passive enjoyment of one’s surrounding while active Recreational activities involve high level of physical activities like sports and exercise. Moreover, the frequency with which people visit urban Parks, the duration they take in the Parks and the distance they are willing to cover differs across nations and cultures. In part, these differences are due to differences in the Park characteristics and their Recreational offerings. For instance, it is assumed that large city Parks with playgrounds, soccer courts, woodlands, and catering facilities attract more varied visitors than small neighborhood Parks with limited amenities. On the other hand, people’s demographic and socio-economic characteristics and personal preference of given activities can also play a significant role in the variations in activities undertaken in the Parks, the duration they take in the Parks and the distance they are willing to cover (Schipperijn et al, 2010). Walking is rated the most preferred activity in the Parks followed by exercising, relaxing and meeting of friends. The activities varied with gender. Women for example, were found to engage more in walking, meeting friends, playing with children and enjoying the landscape whereas men preferred to exercise or play team sports (Stebbins, 2005 and Keen, 2007).

In Hong Kong and Pakistan, the primary reasons for visiting the Parks were to exercise and take leisure walks (Hussain et al, 2010). In Los Angeles, Cohen et al. (2006) found out that people mostly engaged in sitting and walking activities while in the Park. Other popular Park activities in Los Angeles included taking part in celebrations, meeting friends, playing outdoor basketball, and other activities. Parks were used most on the weekends and least used in the morning hours. However, this differed significantly with age where the seniors were more likely to use the Parks in the morning hours and early afternoon.

2.5. Use of Indicators in Recreation Park Management

Recreation management frameworks have been developed for and applied to outdoor and countryside recreation areas in many countries. Frameworks, including recreation opportunity spectrum, carrying capacity, limits of acceptable change, visitor impact management, benchmarking process and performance measurement procedures (Pigram & Jenkins, 1999; Hart, 2013 &Wood, 2003), have generally addressed one characteristic: involving multi-dimensional considerations in outdoor recreation management. By focusing on different objectives such as resource protection, recreation opportunity provision, visitor management and use limits, these frameworks all attempt to satisfy visitors’ expectations and preserve the resources available for Recreational use (Pigram & Jenkins, 1999). The frameworks include indicators and standards of quality that define recreation opportunities and management objectives with appropriate monitoring and evaluation processes (Hart, 2013; Wood, 2003; Budruk & Manning, 2003).

Researchers and practitioners recognized the need for applying the aforesaid management frameworks to the urban context (e.g. Budruk & Manning, 2003; Pigram & Jenkins, 1999: Hart, 2013; Wood). Models, indicators and standards in countryside recreation, however, may not be universally adoptable in urban Park settings since different types of recreation may have different resource bases, demands and usage, as well as management visions and objectives (Chan, Marafa, & Van Den Bosch, 2015). For instance, recreation sites in countryside may require better management for the ecological impacts, whereas Parks in the urban areas may require more effective visitor management and resource-intensive maintenance.

Nevertheless, indicators were the essential components and the prerequisites for establishing these frameworks. Cohen et al. (2006), for example, investigated biodiversity indicators in urban and suburban Parks in Belgium by selecting flora, butterflies, breeding birds and amphibians as the four main categories for the monitoring of indicators. However, flora and fauna only constitute one aspect. Moreover, apart from those advancement in applying indicators or benchmarks to Parks and green spaces found by researchers (Kraus & Curtis, 1982), indicators related to urban Parks and urban greening can be used to form parameters that measure the sustainability of cities.

An indicator requires not merely an understanding of the current site condition, and the implications of criticizing and improving management (Pigram and Jenkins, 1999). More importantly, Schipperijn et al. (2010) felt that some indicators were more important for Recreational sites than others due to the different characteristics and conditions of these sites. Some indicators have been found to be more relevant and significant in delineating the quality of the recreation experience in particular recreational environments than in others (Budruk & Manning, 2003). In developing appropriate indicators of quality for any Recreational site, it is therefore necessary to evaluate the importance of indicators as well as to filter and select more significant ones, especially in the presence of resource constraints. In general, good indicators should adhere to various basic criteria, such as having the ability to be comparable; being consistent over time; effective and easy to measure and understand; manageable; multi-dimensional; objective; reliable and amenable; and sensitive and significant (Kraus & Curtis, 1982)

2.6. Challenges in the Managing Recreational Parks

Various constraints inhibit people’s ability to participate in leisure activities, to spend more time doing so, to take advantage of leisure services, or to achieve a desired level of satisfaction (Zanon et al. 2013). Three forms of barriers were conceptualized by Crawford and Godbey (1987) namely intrapersonal, interpersonal and structural barriers. Intrapersonal constraints are internal to the individual and are psychological such as lack of interest or fear of visiting a Park because of an attack. Interpersonal constraints include interactions with others, for example, the lack of a partner. Structural constraints arise from environmental factors such as the proximity of leisure and Recreational facilities or features and amenities within a Recreational facility.

A study by Doucouliagos and Hall, (2010) on Park visitation, constraints and satisfaction found out that time, health, transportation, cost, fear, knowledge, interest, facilities, partner, and location are the major constraints in Park use. The degree to which these factors become a constraint, depend on the demographic and socio-economic variables such as education, income, race, gender and age. In this study, education was found to be an important factor in facilitating Park use as it relaxes Park usage constraints. Income becomes more of a constraint only in terms of time, while it eases all other constraints. In contrast, females found nine of the ten factors to be important constraints to Park usage. Age was an important factor in terms of health, fear, transportation and location and partner, while race was important in terms of transportation, cost, fear, and knowledge.

Similarly, Rabare et al. (2009) found out that lack of facilities and poor maintenance were major hindrances to Park use. The study further found out that lack of interest was a major hindrance to Park use. Hayker (2010) found out that lack of money, distance of the urban forests from participants, residence, accessibility of the urban forests, time for recreation and lack of wildlife in the urban forests were the most significant constraints. The distance to the urban forests from the homes of Nairobi’s residents was a major constraint while accessibility was rated less a constraint. The overview of researches published on social roles and leisure constraints show that time constraints are the most frequently cited reason why people do not use Parks and recreation services. The other constraints reported are fear of crime and safety concerns, lack of interest, lack of access, lack of information and lack of transportation (Scott, 2002).

2.7. Empirical Review

The Sub-Saharan African cities are expanding dramatically in terms of population and space, and cities have been transformed into megacities. Africa appears as the least urbanized continent; however, Africa has been characterized by unprecedented rapid population growth the last few decades. The growth of many Sub- Saharan African cities is therefore unguided and unregulated, and the results of such development combined with the weak capacity of the respective planning system to handle such rapid urbanization leads to degradation and inadequacy of infrastructure and services, lack of proper open spaces & Recreational Parks and general decay of the urban living environments (Hayker, 2010).


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Utilization and management of public recreational parks in Addis Ababa
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Israel Endale (Author)Girma Abebe (Author)Tegegn Gebeyaw (Author), 2019, Utilization and management of public recreational parks in Addis Ababa, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1045128


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