Kathmandu, September 25
The Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s board of directors has approved a $150 million loan to help improve the delivery of urban services and infrastructure in eight municipalities in the southern parts of Nepal, including in Province 7 in the far west.
The project will help the areas become more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient places to live in for more than 1.5 million people, as per a media release.
Urbanisation in Nepal has been growing at a rapid pace at about six per cent since the 1970s, however, this has not contributed significantly to inclusive economic growth due to inadequate urban planning, weak institutions, neglected operations and maintenance (O&M) of existing urban infrastructure, as well as limited technical capacity.
To address this issue, it is estimated that the government would need to double its spending on urban infrastructure to meet the backlog of future demand up to 2030 worth $24.5 billion.
Investments from the Regional Urban Development Project will focus on eight municipalities from the southern Tarai region, including four municipalities from the less-developed Province 7 in far western Nepal.
The project will enhance urban infrastructure in municipalities in the Tarai region, incorporating climate-resilient and sustainable features, reducing flooding duration to less than an hour in eight municipalities.
This includes the construction and rehabilitation of 200 kilometres of stormwater drains; improvement of 240 km of roads; construction of at least 40 km of footpaths responsive to the needs of elderly, women, children, and people with disabilities; building of four sanitary landfills and resource recovery centres; and construction of 20 km of sewers while connecting 7,500 households to the sewerage system in Biratnagar, among others.
“Improving urban infrastructure and service delivery in major urban areas in Nepal, including in the Tarai region, is a must given their importance to the country’s economy and development,” Vivian Castro-Wooldridge, an ADB urban development specialist, has been quoted as saying. “Toward these aims, the project will ensure that people in the southern parts of Nepal are living in areas that are safe, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient to climate change.”
The project will mark ADB’s first investment in urban infrastructure in Province 7 and will improve flood management, mobility, and solid waste management. It will also assist the development of urban plans and bylaws that reflect greater disaster risk resilience, improved land management, and regional development. Municipal capacity will be strengthened through the implementation of a performance-based socio-economic development programme.
A version of this article appears in print on September 26, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.