Designing age-friendly communities: Exploring qualitative perspectives on urban green spaces and ageing in two Indian megacities

Deepti Adlakha, Mina Chandra, Murali Krishna, Lee Smith, Mark Tully

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The World Health Organization and the United Nations have increasingly acknowledged the importance of urban green space (UGS) for healthy ageing. However, low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) like India with exponential ageing populations have inadequate UGS. This qualitative study examined the relationships between UGS and healthy ageing in two megacities in In-dia. Participants were recruited using snowball sampling in New Delhi and Chennai and semi-structured interviews were conducted with consenting participants (N = 60, female = 51%; age > 60 years; fluent in English, Hindi, or Tamil). Interviews were recorded, transcribed, translated, and analysed using inductive and thematic analysis. Benefits of UGS included community building and social capital, improved health and social resilience, physical activity promotion, reduced exposure to noise, air pollution, and heat. Poorly maintained UGS and lack of safe, age-friendly pedestrian infrastructure were identified as barriers to health promotion in later life. Neighbourhood disorder and crime constrained older adults’ use of UGS in low-income neighbourhoods. This study under-scores the role of UGS in the design of age-friendly communities in India. The findings highlight the benefits of UGS for older adults, particularly those living in socially disadvantaged or under-served communities, which often have least access to high-quality parks and green areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1491
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 04 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We focused on two, million-plus (population of 1 million or more), urban agglomerations in India. Between May 2019-January 2020, participants (N = 60, female = 51%) were recruited from the cities of New Delhi (population = 18.6 million) and Chennai (population = 10.9 million). A snowball sampling technique with multiple recruitment approaches was adopted to reach out to participants. A gender-and age-sensitive approach was employed to ensure equal representation of men and women above 60 years of age in this study [22]. In each city, the lead researcher (DA) commenced with a small population of known individuals and expanded the sample by asking the initial participants to identify others that were interested in participating in the study. The lead researcher was supported by one male and one female bilingual research assistant in each city. Research assistants had prior experience in qualitative research methods and were required to participate in a training session on roles and responsibilities, interview techniques, dealing with sensitive questions, data protection codes of conduct and practicalities of field work. The lead researcher (DA) supervised all research assistants and served as the primary source of contact for all queries related to this study.

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund administered by the Department for Economy, Northern Ireland, UK.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Built environment
  • Healthy ageing
  • India
  • Older adults
  • Urban green spaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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