Original Research

Impact of inaccessible spaces on community participation of people with mobility limitations in Zambia

Martha Banda-Chalwe, Jennifer C. Nitz, Desleigh de Jonge
African Journal of Disability | Vol 3, No 1 | a33 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v3i1.33 | © 2014 Martha Banda-Chalwe, Jennifer C. Nitz, Desleigh de Jonge | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 May 2012 | Published: 14 October 2014

About the author(s)

Martha Banda-Chalwe, Division of Physiotherapy, University of Queensland, Australia
Jennifer C. Nitz, Division of Physiotherapy, University of Queensland, Australia
Desleigh de Jonge, Division of Occupational Therapy, University of Queensland, Australia


Background: The study investigated the perspective of people with mobility limitations (PWML) in Zambia, firstly of their accessibility to public buildings and spaces, and secondly of how their capacity to participate in a preferred lifestyle has been affected.

Objectives: Firstly to provide insight into the participation experiences of PWML in the social, cultural, economic, political and civic life areas and the relationship of these with disability in Zambia. Secondly to establish how the Zambian disability context shape the experiences of participation by PWML.

Method: A qualitative design was used to gather data from 75 PWML in five of the nine provinces of Zambia. Focus group discussions and personal interviews were used to examine the accessibility of the built environment and how this impacted on the whole family’s participation experiences. The nominal group technique was utilised to rank inaccessible buildings and facilities which posed barriers to opportunities in life areas and how this interfered with the whole family’s lifestyle.

Results: Inaccessibility of education institutions, workplaces and spaces have contributed to reduced participation with negative implications for personal, family, social and economic aspects of the lives of participants. Government buildings, service buildings, and transportation were universally identified as most important but least accessible.

Conclusion: Zambians with mobility limitations have been disadvantaged in accessing services and facilities provided to the public, depriving them and their dependants of full and equitable life participation because of reduced economic capacity. This study will assist in informing government of the need to improve environmental access to enable equal rights for all citizens.


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