Localizing children’s play spaces through the child friendly city lens : Reframing tools for children’s inclusivity in Mzuzu City, Malawi

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James Gondwe
Mtafu Manda


This paper draws on a review of childhood discourses on child focused literature and content analysis of some of Malawi’s planning instruments to argue that Mzuzu City is not a child-friendly city. Specifically, the planning instruments which include the planning law, national urban policy, planning guide book and Mzuzu city structure plan which dictate public space apportioned for various activities are noted to fulfill the needs and aspirations of adults at the expense of children’s play needs. Furthermore, despite the fact that a malleable definition of childhood is likely to accommodate the lived experiences of children living in the City, child agency is conspicuously absent. This paper suggests that there is need to reframe these planning instruments as a way of reimaging the built environment to capture the needs and aspirations of children as it does for adults.


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Author Biography

Mtafu Manda

Professor Manda is a Professor of Urban Planning in the Department of Land and Built Environment at Mzuzu University, Malawi.