Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Revitalisation of recreational facilities a necessity

There is a need for the renaissance of community recreational facilities in Bulawayo. These facilities have in the past been used to keep unemployed youths occupied and to avert social strangulation. Elderly citizens also used these amenities to convene social clubs while women held skills promoting workshops. The recreational facilities have been beneficial to various groups in the society and their role cannot be overlooked. Communities without recreational facilities are most likely to be poverty stricken, have a high HIV/AIDS prevalence and very little development. The local authority is therefore urged to resuscitate recreational facilities.

The youth in Bulawayo have been blamed for perpetuating political violence. In pursuit of economic favours, youth fall prey to politicians who prey on their plight and offer them money. This is common towards elections because the youth are cheated into thinking that taking part in the national process is a form of employment. Most of them resort to this as they are desperate for money while for some it is because they are not occupied. To avoid having an increasing number of youths embarking on corrupt and immoral activities the city council should revive recreational facilities so that youths’ attention is diverted. The recreational facilities offer an escape for youths interested in various disciplines like soccer, drama clubs and fashion designing.

Most residential areas are marred with moral decadence. This is reflected in the rising number of school drop outs, teenage pregnancies, crime, vice and cases of alcohol and drug abuse among the youth. The municipality has neglected playing fields that were set aside as urban recreational parks. The local authority has limited community gardens that do not accommodate all those that may need them. School leavers remain idle because they lack social activities to occupy them hence most of them resort to aforementioned social decadences. Recreational facilities kept social morals intact, without them society has a bleak future.

With the restoration of Bulawayo’s status as the cleanest city in the world in mind, it is imperative for communities to decide which lands to protect for recreation, community character, the conservation of natural resources, and open space. In an attempt to attain Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 of ensuring environmental sustainability residents, assisted by the city council, have a vital role to play in conserving the environment. Community members have to be actively involved in the restoration of the environment. Parks were a habitat for fish, ducks and ponds which to a certain extent balanced the natural eco-system. Under the current situation lack of recreational facilities contributes somewhat to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Urban parks, gardens, and recreational open spaces do not only benefit the youth but also stimulate commercial growth and promote inner-city revitalization. The city council used to hire out council halls and the money generated was used to revitalise other essential services offered by the local authority. This in turn determines where solid development will occur. Zimbabwe can learn a lot from the state of New Jersey which leads the way in open space preservation. $1.4 billion has been generated by New Jersey's Green Acres land acquisition program in 34 years with $1 billion more expected to protect another 1 million acres which is 50% of New Jersey's remaining open space. There is need to conserve natural resources as these can contribute to the development of communities. Parks and open spaces create a high quality of life that attracts tax-paying businesses and residents to communities. Across the U.S., access to parks and open spaces has become a measure of community wealth - a tool for attracting businesses and residents by guaranteeing quality of life and economic health.

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