Background: Many studies have been conducted on the challenges underpinning the depletion and inaccessibility of urban green infrastructures (UGI) in cities of developed countries. Contrary to this, similar studies in rapidly urbanizing cities of Africa are scant. In this study, we assessed the status, accessibility and constraints of UGI in rapidly urbanizing city Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We first mapped and calculated the status of UGI from 2003 to 2016 based on the land use data in Arch GIS. We then analyzed UGI access such as recreational parks based on proximate and per capita green indicators by using the land use maps, road network and gridded population data. Finally, we examined the challenges behind the current states of UGI based on document review, expert interview and field observation.
Results: Our study disclosed that the land use of UGI from 2003 to 2016 is decreased by 9.2%. The land use of urban agriculture decreased significantly (by 11.9%) followed by urban forest (by 3.7%). The accessibility indicators also revealed that the city residents have no sufficient recreational UGI. The city’s park per capita was very small (0.5m2) compared to Ethiopian UGI standards (15m2) and the large portion of the city’s population (above 90%) has no access to existing parks within the minimum walking distance thresholds. Expansion of built up environment, density, weak implementation of policies and plans, and lack of priority for UGI development were identified as the major constraints behind the current state of UGI in the city.
Conclusion: we conclude that UGI is degrading and insufficiently accessible for the city residents due to weak enforcement of development plans, density, built up area expansion, and lack of priority for UGI. Thus, strict adherence to the development plans and regulations is of paramount importance to maintain UGI in the city. Moreover, developing small to median size parks in already proposed areas, new expansion and renewal parts of the city is vital to enhance recreational park access. We hope that this study serves as a benchmark for policy and planning to ensure accessible and adequate UGI in rapidly urbanizing city Addis Ababa and beyond.