Planning for recreation and open space, Eastlands, Nairobi
Most studies on recreation that have hitherto been carried out in Kenya emphasise issues relating to the needs and requirements of the tourists and the affluent section of the Kenyan society. This study is concerned with providing the economically weak local resident with recreation facilities in his residential area and thus within a walking distance. The study area has a high population, both in terms of numbers and density. However, it is endowed with relatively few recreational amenities and open spaces. The building layouts are themselves extravagant in space consumption and the indoor spaces are relatively small. The majority of the population here is economically weak compared to the other residents of the City of Nairobi and therefore they cannot affotfl to partake of those recreational facilities and types that are paid for. Ironically the study area is located further away from the provided recreational facilities, open spaces and parks. This means that this population has limited access to recreation facilities. The questionnaire, key informants, available records and personal field observations were the main data gathering tools. Three housing estates were selected for questionnaire administration to heads of households. The questionnaire was self-administered by the respondents as it was translated into Kiswahili. From the key informants and available records, factual information and policies were gathered. The data was assembled and analysed manually witli the use of a simple calculator. (V) The main foci of the research/on the demand and provision of t recreational facilities, the maintenance and management of the open spaces, and the planning standards regarding recreation. It was found that the felt need for recreation was above average and that there was a deficiency of recreational facilities. It was also found that children participate most in recreation, but that the state of affairs provides them with no room in which to play. They are displaced to roadsides and roundabouts and exposed to traffic dangers, and displaced into unsurveilled areas (by adults) where they are subject to the differential association concept. It was observed that the very high densities in indoor spaces results in an overspill of household activities into open spaces. Furthermore, the open spaces are themselves prone to otherconflicti uses due to the weak management of the City Council. This study upholds the fact that recreation is an activity characterised by choice: Choice to participate or not to, choice of where to recreate, of duration of participation etc. Thus the viability of a recreation plan depends on how far the felt needs and requirements of the client population have been taken into account. As such, the planning standards should work from the same viewpoint. The study has proposed more social halls to be built in various convenient places, and has also proposed sites for the development of outdoor recreation places to correct the existing deficiencies. It has called on the Nairobi City Council to legislate on various issues so as to strengthen the management of recreation places and open spaces, and to mobilise communities to maintain their environments in healthy states. The study has (vi) also recommended ways to maximise the utilisation of the existing recreational facilities within the study area. This study is particularly handy at this period in time when more housing estates are built in various urban areas. The problem ol Eastlands could not have been so deep rooted if these deficiencies here corrected in the initial planning stages. Developers and Local Authorities could avoid repeating these mistakes in other towns or housing estates by planning for all amenities well in advance and ii they could take note of the discussions and recommendations presented in this work.