Unplanned urbanisation threatens Nepal

squattersKATHMANDU: Lack of a coordinated policy towards addressing rapid urbanisation has put the urban environment in peril, according to a government report released last week.

The Economic Survey for the fiscal year 2014-2015 stated that despite being one of the least urbanised countries in Asia, urbanisation has been taking rapid growth at the rate of 3.23% in the last decade, leaving physical, natural, social and environment sectors vulnerable in city areas.

Various factors including demographic and economic transitions in the country are contributing towards unplanned and haphazard urbanisation that is ultimately creating obstruction in maintaining balance in the supply system due to shortage of infrastructure.

“Urban environmental concerns are reaching critical levels. The basic features of a proper urban city or municipality such as transport network, drinking water and sanitation facilities, open spaces and waste management among others is inadequately addressed,” said Kishore Thapa, former secretary at the Ministry of Urban Development.

Thapa was also involved in preparing the National Urban Development Strategy 2015, a fundamental document that guides any urban development activity in the country for the next 15 years.

Existing national policies with regard to the urban sector including transport, agriculture, industry and land-use favour urban development, but coordinated policy commitment is still lacking for progressive and balanced urbanisation, the survey mentioned.

Poor institutional capacity towards urban planning management and programme implementation, and at the same time wide gap among investment requirement, financial availability and implementation capabilities is further affecting urban development.

The 2011 Nepal census puts 19% of the total 26.4 million population living in 58 municipalities.

With the declaration of an additional 133 municipalities in the last fiscal year, the population has reached 38.26% of the total census.

Another major problem from rapid urbanisation is management of the urban poor population and squatters in several areas, which is further expected to grow, said Sunil Babu Shrestha, an urban planner.

The estimated squatter population is around 10% of the total urban population in the country. – From Kathmandu Post

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