A step forward for Inclusive City: Accessibility audit of office of the municipal Executive and ward buildings of Dhulikhel Municipality

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UN Habitat through the project "Mainstreaming LNOB in National and Urban Policies and Programs in South Asia", has handed over the joint technical report on the accessibility audit of office of the Municipal Executive and Ward Offices of Dhulikhel Municipality.  Amid a function in the municipality, UN-Habitat Program Manager Ms. Pragya Pradhan handed over the report to the Mayor of Dhulikhel Municipality Mr. Ashok Kumar Byanju Shrestha. Ward chairpersons, members of the municipal executive, technical team and other stuffs of the municipality and member of Dhulikhel city Disability Council were present in the program.

The accessibility audit is a continued initiative of UN-HABITAT in Nepal and Dhulikhel Municipality, further to the jointly organized training on “Disability Inclusive Development and Accessibility Audit Technical” on 27th and 28th July 2022 in Dhulikhel municipality. National Federation of the Disabled-Nepal (NFD-N) was also invited for the facilitation of the training. The checklist developed by NFD-N was used during and after the training for accessibility audit.  The technical human resources from the municipal executive and ward offices, engineers from local consulting firms, representative from Kathmandu University, local architects from Society of Nepalese Architects (SONA) and the members of the Disability Council in Dhulikhel Municipality were participated in the training. The trained technical team of the municipality and UN-HABITAT team were jointly mobilized for the field study.

Habitat Program Manager of UN-HABITAT Ms. Pragya Pradhan handing over the accessibility audit technical report to the Mayor of Dhulikhel Municipality Mr. Ashok Kumar Byanju Shrestha. 

Addressing the program, Mayor of Dhilkhel municipality Mr. Ashok Byanju assured in including the outcomes of the report in upcoming annual plans and programs while also highlighting the attempts that are already in places such as formation of disability council, youth council, women council, Janajati council, Dalit council and further provided skill enhancement support for developing entrepreneurship and economic empowerment of these marginalized groups. He stressed on the policies of municipalities like Mayor Poverty Alleviation Fund, property tax exemption, free education and health insurance and availability of wheelchair to people with disabilities, and projects promoting inclusive tourism through accessible trail construction. Pointing out the challenges and discrimination faced by people with disability due to various social, institutional, and attitudinal barriers, he committed to make Dhulikhel municipality the first disable friendly and inclusive municipality in Nepal in collaboration with UN Habitat, Government of Nepal and other development partners.

UN-Habitat Program Manager Ms. Pragya Pradhan praised the exemplary works done by Dhulikhel municipality in accessibility and informed about global World Habitat Day, to be held in 17th October in Nepal, with the theme on ' Mind the Gap. Leaving No One and Place Left Behind' directly contributing to the accessibility, poverty alleviation and sustainable cities and, to which the project on Dhulikhel is closely aligned with. She suggested that the audit report has given direction on incorporating LNOB and accessibility in services and infrastructures in annual plans and programs. She also put forward the optimism in future collaboration of Dhulikhel Municipality with UN Habitat to materialize the outcome of the audit report.

Project coordinator of UN-HABITAT Mr. Milan Bagale presented on the international and regional practices, result of accessibility audit of each ward offices and municipality building and provided the way forward on immediate and long-term plan for incorporating the disability inclusive intervention in municipality building and ward offices, with estimated budget that was calculated in collaboration with technical team of the municipality. He also highlighted the best practices observed during the audit with way forward for incorporating results of audit in plans and programs of the municipality. The connectivity from the adjoining settlement, parking space and internal road linkages of the premises, citizen charters, help desk and different working stations, staircase, lobby, ramp, WASH facilities, service delivery system, communication system and website were audited by following the checklist developed and provided by National Federation of the Disabled-Nepal (NFD-N).