Ministry rues poor investment in urban infrastructure, housing

Kathmandu, February 10

Deficiency of urban infrastructure in Nepal is highlighted by the situation of water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, housing, transport and energy, says the Ministry of Urban Development.

Ecological disparity is evident in case of access to piped water supply. According to National Urban Development Strategy published by the MoUD, only 32.9 per cent of households have access to piped water supply in urban Tarai as compared to 81.2 per cent of households in urban hill as of 2017. However, quality and quantity of drinking water is insufficient in all urban regions.

“In order to improve the situation of water supply and sanitation within one year, per capita expenditure of Rs 3,500 is required, amounting to Rs 75 billion annually. The condition of sanitation system and solid waste management are also critical. Only 56.1 per cent of urban households have access to sanitation system with 88.2 per cent households having access to toilets,” it reads. Likewise, only six municipalities have sanitary landfill sites and only five practice controlled waste dumping.

The strategy warned that increasing squatter settlements and lack of affordable housing was the major concern for urban housing sector, which is evident in the growing percentage of squatter settlements in urban areas. Inadequate and inefficient transport infrastructure is the key concern of urban transport. The average road density of urban areas is 3.26 km/sq km, which is quite low and relatively low road coverage show the rural extent of most municipalities.

According to the strategy, the present condition of national energy crisis is apparent and exaggerated in the urban area. The demand of electricity is the highest in urban and industrial corridors, with annual rate of increment of 9 per cent.

Analysis of urban environmental condition also highlights the critical condition of urban areas in terms of physical, natural, and social environment. The existing Urban Environment Management Guidelines can be a strong document to address environment issues in urban areas, but like any other documents it falls short in implementation, the strategy says.

The municipalities lack institutional capacity, proper planning and funding mechanisms to manage urban environment that includes coping with disasters, providing safety and security,enhancing socio-cultural like, and preservation of open spaces, among others.