Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world is moving towards haphazard urbanization. With rapid and haphazard urbanization the country is facing many problems indicating to an unsustainable urban future. Yet, Nepal remains one of the least urbanized countries in the world and also in South Asia.
Most of the parts of the country still remain rural as about 83 % of the people reside in the country side and about 17 % are living in the urban. The rate of urbanization in Nepal is 6.6 % that is the highest rate in Asia. As well as the Kathmandu valley is growing at 4 % per year which is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the region that is facing exceptional challenges ensued by rapid urbanization and modernization.
One of the major challenges, Nepal is facing is the sustainability of urbanization as lack of effective planning and large and growing infrastructure demands. The political turmoil remains at large that is plaguing the country since long. However, it is true that Nepal’s urban areas can benefit the country with the economic growth as it is contributing to the GDP and poverty alleviation. Yet, the rapid urbanization is not being able to lift up the country’s economy like other South Asian countries.
Also, Nepal remains one of the vulnerable countries in the world owing to the climate change and environmental issues. In Nepal, the average temperature is rising by 0.06 degrees Celsius annually and is having impacts of climate change. In this regard, UN-Habitat’s activities have been focused to target Nepal’s urbanization, climate change issues, environment and sanitation as well as land issues by targeting stakeholders, policy makers and as well as empowering urban poor for securing a better urban future in the country.
UN-Habitat in Nepal
Habitat Country Program Document (HCPD) 2011-12 is the program framework of UN-Habitat in Nepal. The program has following focuses:
- Promoting ‘shelter for all’ with emphasis on urban poor and vulnerable population including slum and squatter, both at policy level and in implementation;
- Promoting water and environmental sanitation, water demand management, WATSAN governance, integrated water resource management and capacity building at various levels.
- Disaster preparedness and recovery, particularly actively involving in CERF activities and shelter cluster including preparing building codes and norms and post disaster recovery support
- Supporting climate change management issues in terms of cities including Cities and Climate Change Initiatives.
- Raising urban agenda through Nepal Urban Forum, National Urban Observatory, and similar collaborative works
Under the program framework UN-Habitat has supported landless Koshi flood victims of 2008 with integrated shelter, promoting urban water and sanitation under Water for Asian Cities Program, initiated full sanitation coverage in five selected districts through Global Sanitation Fund, prepared Nepal Urban Housing Sector Profile Study, etc. Similarly, UN-Habitat prepared Tools for the assessment of School and Hospital Safety For Multi-Hazards in South Asia under the Disaster preparedness and recovery.
Likewise, UN-Habitat is also working for promoting sustainable housing in Nepal with the project of “Green Homes”. Green Homes is three year (2013-1015) project funded by the European Union aims at promoting sustainable housing technologies and services to contribute towards mitigating climate change and reducing poverty through creation of green jobs and moving towards a green economy.
Meanwhile, UN-Habitat is also working on the issues of land with the project “Catalytic Support to Land Issues”. This two year (2013-2015) project funded by the UN Peace building Fund for Nepal (UNPFN) aims to create an environment conducive for the development and implementation of a land policy, with provisions of land reform and land use, and the peaceful resolution of land and property conflicts.