March 24, 2023, Friday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Urban poor, one of the pinching wound to local governments

The Nepal Weekly
March 14, 2023

Clean Energy Nepal (CEN) organised a workshop to discuss and share knowledge on urban poor in the country. The forum also caught the agenda on possible solutions to support urban poor in their living conditions and upliftment. Experts and stakeholders participated in threw their opinions and views from different angle – air pollution, energy access, education and employment. 

As a matter of fact, urbanization has been a global trend. More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and Nepal is no more exception. Nepal is rapidly urbanizing. In 2014, the level of urbanization was 18.2 per cent, with an urban population of 5,130,000, and a rate of urbanization of 3 per cent.

Nepal, a mountainous country, is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Though two third of the total population in Nepal is involved in agriculture, the unproductive agriculture compounded by shifting weather patterns and climate induced stress have made agriculture income highly insufficient to support families. Further, limited non-agricultural jobs, high debt burdens, and declines in food production due to the generational fragmentation of land holdings has compounded the problem of rural to urban migration. The unchecked rural-urban migration and haphazard settlements within the cities have resulted in increased numbers of environmental as well as social problems. The unchecked and unplanned settlements, low socio-economic growth, inadequate capacity to cope with housing needs and poor imbalanced governance has caused increase of urban poverty. Multiple stresses caused by rapid urbanization, industrialization, and economic development are further compounded by climate change and are expected to adversely affect the sustainable development capabilities of Nepal. It is likely that municipalities in Nepal are at risk in the future due to increased temperature and extreme variability in rainfall triggering massive climate hazards. Populations and livelihoods are exposed to climate-induced events, mainly floods, landslides, cold waves, heat stress, droughts, windstorms, lightning strikes, communicable diseases, and fires.

The participants suggested that urban poor are not only migrants (arrived from other places to big cities) looking for livelihood. Government of Nepal should take initiatives to create liveable environment at their native places. A dignified living style for the farmers, industries and entrepreneurship for job seekers, health facilities, education facilities so as the income generation, employment and other basic facilities support them not to leave the native places and live with better economic status rather than migrating other places for opportunities.

People presently living as urban poor the cities – migrants or natives should be provided basic facilities such as safe shelter, health, education, employment including energy access, safe drinking water and so on. They may be imparted skill to manage waste materials properly for cleanliness of locality and their income.

Thus, local, provincial and federal government should formulate policies and carry out various programmes with human value at focus first.

Studies conducted found that urban poor are deprived of basic safety of lives and livelihoods, adverse impacts of climate change on the health and livelihoods, multiple dimensions of urban poverty, occupational vulnerability are the key Issues associated with urban poor. Likewise, energy and urban air pollution, urban mobility, poor waste management, water scarcity and urban disasters including food security and urban health are the factors impacting the livelihood of climate vulnerable urban poor.

Clean Energy Nepal(CEN) is implementing “Promoting Green Inclusive and Resilient Cities in South Asia” project with the goal “committed climate policies contribute towards designing resilient and climate-compatible cities” in support of Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA). This project aims for finding solutions that are based on equitable, informed and inclusive urban transformation, where national and individual growth can supplement resource regeneration and maintain the ecological integrity of the city.

(By R. P. Narayan)