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THE USE AND MANAGEMENT OF OPEN SPACES IN LOW INCOME RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBOURHOOD
1.1 Background to the Study
Town Planning generally involves the ordering of land uses, siting of buildings and communication routes in order to secure maximum level of economy, convenience and beauty, according to Keeble (1969). This emphasis unconditionally unveils the fact that there is a wide variety of elements that make up the human community and define its quality of life. These elements are possibly not limited to employment opportunities, the supply of quality housing, or cultural and social opportunities but extend to the quality of natural environments that often come through open spaces, parks and recreational planning (Greed, 2005).
The thrust of this research is premised on the fact that all growing communities (urban and rural) need to provide adequate open/recreational spaces within proximate distance for the benefit of the residents. The choice of the research focus is informed by the lack of concern for open recreational land use in most developing countries, particularly in the traditional cities where the value attached to such use has been eroded. Previous studies have identified the benefits of engaging in recreational activities to include promotion of healthy living; encouragement of social interaction; increased productivity; prevention of crimes and anti- social behaviours and enhancement of the economic base of the society among others (Brown, 2000; Moroukola, 2003; Vanguard, 2004; Obi-Ademola, 2008)
Considering all the benefits that may accrue to the community and the living environment by open space, there is a need to investigate further the fundamental principles of open recreation space planning and usage from wider perspectives, and how land use is being treasured in the contemporary times. Open recreational space, by its very nature lends itself to a variety of interpretations and means many things to individuals, cultures, and nationals (Enger, 2005). From a design perspective, Rutledge (1981) likened a park to a theater and each of its activity
areas to a potential stage. The different connotations given to open recreational space at urban level is something to dissect because of what an urban area represents – being a major location of the elite and other professional workers.
Open recreational spaces as used in this study comprise the reasonable larger open spaces; and these include children‟s play spaces within residential neighbourhood, public open areas in the city core, city green areas et cetera. In terms of importance, they offer opportunities for people to regulate their physical and psychological resources (Hobfoll, 2011). Open space as a planning concept manifests in different forms, shapes, purposes, and functions. In the fields of urban planning and urban design, different types of open spaces are recognized, and these include urban reserve or green lands, aesthetic value lands, hazardous critical, ecological critical, recreational parks and cultural sites (Burton, 1971; American Planning Association, 2002).
Many people may have misunderstood the real purpose of recreational open space in the urban centres whereas the consideration for its needs should not be divorced from thoughtfulness for education and welfare needs. Adejumo (2011), whose recent study centers on Lagos, sees it from a natural and micro climatic scale perspective – that open space system forms the hub of natural resources that promote environmental consciousness and protect the city‟s eco-zone biodiversity. It represents essential precondition for climatic and hydrological stabilization in human settlements. Traditionally, open recreational space is of significance to the communities in which it exists. Olukesusi (2004) maintained that primarily, sport which is an end product of open recreation space utilization is more of a social activity than athletic activity. In a broader perspective, if coupled with entrepreneurial activities such as markets or physical activities, for example, children playing, walking or cultural activities can be a source of socialization to the community members (Agbaeze, 2003).
This study supports the reawakening proposition of the Nigerian cities open recreation spaces even though the urban dwellers and the public planning agencies seem to have undermined in many respects the very essence of its provision for the overall good of urban dwellers.. The effects of this disregard are beginning to show negatively in nearly all Nigerian traditional cities, including Ibadan where open space value is expected to be tenaciously upheld going by the value often attached to such spaces from traditional points of view. Erosion of open recreational space value has been noticed in some Nigerian traditional cities in recent times. Agwu and Obialor‟s (2012) investigation on open space in Umuahia and Aba (South-east Nigeria) noted that due to rapid urbanization, the condition of the two cities have become worse both physically and functionally. This problem may as well be described as a national phenomenon. Falade (1998) had earlier come to the conclusion that the higher the rate of urbanization in a place (resulting in overcrowding), the greater the deficiency of open spaces.
Even though there may be obvious differences in open recreational space planning between two places, this study presupposes that the whole level of achievement in urban open recreational space planning particularly in the developed world may not be divulged totally from a good articulation and management of land uses. The idea of open space simply explains the whole process and actions that take place in blending land uses into a social functional entity through the provision of either active or passive outdoor spaces. The two classes (that is, active and passive) have the tendency to break the usual monotony of sight seen in many urban-scapes. A cursory observation of the morphological appearance of Ibadan city (southwest Nigeria), to a greater extent reveals a clumsy physical development condition which may have arisen from poor planning and insufficient provision of open recreational space in its numerous neighbourhoods that have grown unabated over the years.
This study which observed clear gaps in the recreational open space planning in the city of Ibadan from previous studies and quantitative analysis, has taken steps to recommending
possible planning strategic actions to the various stakeholders and government for possible implementation.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
Prior to the colonial days and the interest of the colonialists to enhance the livability of Nigerian indigenous cities, very little was probably known about open recreational resource. It may be assumed that because open space is conceptualized in people‟s mind as a „free space for all‟ and the fact that it has less demand threshold when compared with other land uses in the urban centers, therefore little or no attention has been given to its further development. This problem may have held down the advancement of open recreational resources usage and planning. Akin to this is the paucity of researchers and planning advocacy of open recreational space in African context. The consequences of this as we now crave for international or world best practice, are obvious in the several unmet expectations such as the environmental aspect of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) or prescribed planning standard of “one acre of land space per 100 population” prescription for open recreational space planning ( Dixon, 2008)
Many aspects of open recreational space planning and development are yet to be given a proper treatment in nearly all Nigerian cities. Although pockets of open recreational space (ORS) uses abound in both the traditional and modern cities, however, issues of standard setting, provision enhancement and data management are a mirage, and far from meeting the desired acceptable standard. Evidently, most of the challenges observed have their attendant consequences and these are reflected in the poor uses (distinct abuse) to which Nigerian urban landscapes are being subjected to, such as outright conversion to illegal or unplanned uses, children turning neighbourhood streets to recreational playgrounds are common phenomenon in many Nigerian urban centres.
Many researchers like Obateru (1981), Okewole (1998) and Tomori (2010) for instance lamented on the shortage of open recreational space land use in Ibadan city. The severity of recreational facilities provision gap in the city for a long time can make one to describe Ibadan as a city that needs an urgent planning attention. According to Obateru (1981), ideally, Ibadan should have at least 500 children playgrounds, 125 neighbourhood parks 31 district parks and
10 city parks.” However, investigation revealed a gross inadequacy in all the required facilities. In the light of this fact coupled with realities of the modern era recreational demand, the researcher has considered an investigation into the city prevailing open recreational space system and the probable challenges confronting the system.
Aside the inadequate recreational planning agencies / policy framework and the consistent pressure of urbanization which in effect, has led to the incessant distortion of open space and biodiversity resources that are often perpetuated by profiteers who often create a constant tendency to encroach into public open space that should serve the recreational need of the city populace.
Against the backdrop of the observed inappropriateness of Ibadan city‟s open recreational space engagement (in terms of planning and usage ) and the present human interference in open space resources harmonization, this research is set to investigate the prevailing usage and provision of open recreational space in the city. The intention is to proffer good planning by:
iii. rehabilitation and adequate integration of existing traditional values system into the current land use utilization, especially in the areas of leisure, recreation and tourism; and
1.3 Research Questions:
The following few research questions which aligned with the research objectives were addressed in this study.
1.4 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The research aims principally to investigate the prevalence and usage of open recreational spaces in Ibadan, southwest Nigeria. The aim was achieved via the following set of objectives:
iii. To examine the perceptions of the residents towards the open recreational resources and participation in the study area.
1.5 Justification for the Study
From the perspective of available past and contemporary works done in open recreational space (ORS) and its development worldwide, it may not be far from reality that the benefits of ORS is lopsided in favour of cities in the developed nations. On the basis of obvious face-up with gross ORS inadequacies or abuses especially in the cities of developing nations, it seems legitimate to support the affirmation or belief that such provision is entirely alien to Nigerian culture and planning system. An overall evaluation of open recreational space provision and further development in the urbanized Ibadan from both stakeholders and users‟ perspective is important. This again has been buttressed by many individuals‟ research efforts and research institutions whose contributions towards Ibadan city physical transformation have upheld the current threshold of recreational space provision in the city. Therefore, this study is considered very important on many grounds.
First, since most Nigerian cities adopted British‟s Town and Country Planning system, with a large number of ranked cities have undergone preparation of comprehensive urban plans which now become a policy document to guide physical development. Cities like Kaduna, Enugu, Jos and etcetera have gained maximally from this colonial planning system. The comprehensive plan co-ordinates, organizes and arranges land-use activities in such a manner that it expresses the aims and ambitions of the community and at the same time delineates the form and
character it seeks to achieve. In a more specific term such a plan also expresses the purpose of providing efficient open space and recreational uses in the city.
Although a wholesome success has not been achieved in many aspects especially in the open space and recreational landuse planning (Obateru, 1981; Falade, 1985), nevertheless, a research platform like this has a propelling force to make contribution towards the prompt attainment of the physical plan, and in effect providing opportunities for urban dwellers to participate in a wide range of both active and passive open recreational activities.
Second, the study is imbued with a high propensity to project Nigerian cities from just mere population agglomerations to suitably endowed centres with life sustaining recreational resources. The city of Ibadan having experienced a significant population growth in the past few decades has continued to grow in a fashion that nearly surpasses human imagination. At the moment there are no matchable recreational services provisions for her teeming population, whereas the city should take pride in its image and character as a livable traditional city, and be capable of providing high quality and well managed public parks and open recreation space services to its residents. If this is logical in thought and conformity to best practices in all healthy cities development, then this study is finely justified.
Third, researchers in the area of recreational space design and planning often employ conferences/workshops to influence the government to act in a positive direction in order to attenuate the community aspiration. Therefore this study has the tendency to harness the many unique contributions from different environmental and social sciences disciplines particularly in the fields of sociology and economics. Many contemporary investigators in outdoor recreation studies have involved the knowledge base in psychology and ecology. This is very much applicable when there is need to build a sustainable and recreational friendly city. Moreover, the engagement of all these fragmentations will propel the researcher in bridging the gap that is still left unfilled in this area of knowledge. At the moment there is a need to brace
up with the United Nations‟ Millennium Development Goals under goal 7 which spelt out the exigency to ensure environmental sustainability – including reversing the loss of natural resources. It has been estimated that at least 6 per cent of a city land budget or 300 hectares (741.31acres) need be devoted for open recreational space in any new town with population of 250,000. Judging from this estimate it is obvious that the present open recreational space need of Ibadan put at 4% or 400 hectares in area (Obateru, 2005) is grossly inadequate for a city of its status – with over a million residents (NPC, 2006).
Fourth, harnessing many platforms of development especially on the ground of government‟s policies (transformation agenda) towards better cultural and socio-economic changes, this study is desirable and justified. Moreover, the existing development schemes in Nigeria have little contributions from private sectors. This research initiative and many that will possibly stem out from it may lead to entrenching the culture of landscaping and open recreational space value system into Nigerian urban centres (Fadamiro, 2001).
Based on the multifaceted living environment in terms of social engagement and other activities coupled with a high degree of urbanization exemplified by the study area, deductions and findings from the study area may be applicable to other cities in Nigeria. In addition, because the study is possessive of cross multidisciplinary areas, it has the tendency to stimulate other researchers in the genre of landscape architecture and environmental sciences.
The fifth consideration delves fundamentally with issue concerning knowledge gap. Obviously most Africans and particularly Nigerians have focused research on housing need and other urban habitat issues but not quite too many of such contribution in ORS. There are limited studies on ORS from Africans‟ point of view. Most of the researchers in open recreational field, undoubtedly hailed from advanced nations whose interests are at variance with that of Africans and their advancement. The paucity of contributions of researchers to open recreational space planning especially in Africa has made certain open recreational space
concepts and methodologies look most foreign and their full adoption rather less relevant. This suggests that many variables employed in analyzing demands for low economy cities like ours are debatable. In effect, the study‟s conceptual framework will find applications in most related researches and equally boost research in critical areas of recreational need. There is, therefore, an urgent need to retrace ourselves (and planning system) back to indigenous knowledge that will benefit the black race. We need to develop our own concept of ORS in order to accommodate host cultural and traditional activities into it. Government in her physical planning policy needs to be informed through this study that every locality requires requisite land space where the residents can refresh and recreate themselves.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The field of open recreational space is quite wide due to its many connected branches or related fields of study that are germane to the built environment. Planning Policy Guideline 17 (2002) identified ten typologies of open spaces. These categories include nine types of green spaces and one category of urban open space. In a more specific goal, this study is focused on detailed survey of open recreational spaces within the five out of eleven local government councils that formed Ibadan Metropolitan Area. Emphasis was on the assessment of parks and gardens, natural and semi-natural open space, green space and provision for children and young adults‟ outdoor sports facilities (including pitches, tennis and bowls).
The focus of this research is to explore the overarching question of re-focusing open recreational space in order to effectively deal with recreational need and poor sedentary lifestyle of urban populace. The study did not focus on detailed recreational sports in general terms, but concerned with how recreational space resources could be expressed holistically in both traditional and modern urban contexts. It was reasonable to have integrated some aspects of the cultural affinity with the conventional open recreational activities Ibadan people are well
habituated with presently.
Five years before the new millennium in Nigeria marked an advocacy for further promotion of
„Ayoo‟ game from its present unrecognized local ranking and insignificance to international recognition. This growing awareness of the localized need for government to pay more attention to these developmental trends in social matter, especially as it borders on the spatial distribution of outdoor recreational facilities across the Nigerian cities is a welcome idea and research must be at its alert.
Therefore, on the basis of local need, existing potentials and capacity for further development, the research has exerted adequate effort to focus discussion on culturally aligned and beneficial open recreational activities types for development. This, by implication, suggests that all foreign and non-environmentally related recreational types have not been discussed here for further planning. Indeed, it must be emphasized that unless we have adequate knowledge of classifying these activities in a more localized way, we will not be able to understand the differences in the open recreational structural system.
The study‟s main emphasis is on initiating planning and development of public open recreation and encouragement of more private initiatives within Ibadan metropolitan area. Major privately owned recreational centres and open green areas of recreational significance have been covered. Adequate efforts have been made to categorize the types of recreational activities existing in the study area; this in effect helps the study to know the level of recreational facilities adequacy in the city. It is not unlikely that a particular recreational type dominates other types in the classification; nonetheless the basic tasks in this research include carrying out designated portions of an inventory of existing recreation resources and gathering, analyzing facts which are parts of a larger study.
In view of the veracity of the recreational development need at the moment it is not the goal of this study to produce a recreational or tourism master plan for Ibadan (the study area).
However, the expectation is that the work will form the basis for such plan to be made real. Conjecturally, the research aligns well with current global green-city design which employs an interdisciplinary knowledge such as: Urban planning and design, Landscape Architecture, Urban Ecology and conservation. They all tend to engage or highlight innovative research approaches which focus on people‟s access to ORS.
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