Mwaniki Bernadette Wanjiru
Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Gakuya Daniel Waweru
Department of Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Mwaura Arthur Munyua
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, School of the Built Environment, university of Nairobi, Kenya
Muthama Nzioka J.
Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya


The vast longitudinal loss of recreational open spaces in Nairobi has been on an upward trend. This is a disturbing occurrence due its serious social, environmental and economic impacts. This study attributes this to poor leadership and interrogates Nairobi residents’ views on governance of this essential public resource expounding the role of governance in open space provision and suggesting solutions towards better management anchored on sustainable measures. The study examines Karura Forest, Uhuru Park and Lavington estate as three case studies in open space governance to determine the leadership style that delivers the most sustainable open spaces. Data was collected through questionnaire survey (N=400) supplemented key respondents questionnaire survey (N=20), interviews, observation and review of documents and maps. The results indicated a city experiencing weak open space governance that lacks in stakeholder involvement, provision and protection frameworks leading to un-replaced alienation with consequent serious shortage of the resource and negative environmental impacts. Also indicated were high levels of insecurity in public parks at night particularly for women, dirty and smelly rivers, drained wetlands and many open spaces taken over by informal activities. Majority of residents have expressed their frustration with Nairobi’s brick wall governance and have overwhelmingly expressed desires for new inclusive structures based on facilitative and transformative leadership.

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