Building urban resilience in Nepal
By building a foundation of trust and cooperation with local governments, ICF is working to enhance institutional capacity for sustainable development—and create new and inclusive economic opportunities.
Building resilience to economic, environmental, and public health shocks—as well as their knock-on effects—is crucial if Nepal is to overcome challenges requiring longer-term solutions.
Nepal is among the 20 most disaster-prone countries in the world, with a global ranking of 4th for vulnerability to climate change and 11th in terms of earthquakes. An estimated 80% of the total population is at risk from natural hazards, such as floods, landslides, windstorms, hailstorms, fires, and earthquakes.
Complicating matters is the pattern of sustainable urban development in Nepal, one characterized by unplanned and haphazard growth. The creation of slums, informal settlements, and dense multi-occupancy housing increases the risk to the population from natural disasters. A high proportion of women and children are at particular risk within informal settlements.
Poor infrastructure and urban services—especially solid waste management and sanitation—is also leading to an increasing risk of disease. A lack of safe drinking water adds to these problems, and ad hoc solutions to overcome shortages (e.g., individual bore wells) can lead to the over-exploitation of groundwater, further compounding risk.
The challenges have been greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While public health support was not among our initial planned activities, we were able to adapt and respond to changing needs. Making municipal governance more resilient means making them better able to respond to any type of shock—and able to bounce back more quickly, while also taking care of the most vulnerable.
“NURP has been instrumental in supporting JSMC to identify and prioritize municipal work. Not only have they motivated us in envisioning the new Janakpurdham, they have been supporting in each and every step for the realization of our dream for a clean, healthy, green, and prosperous Janakpurdham within the next 10 years.”
Through the Sudridh-Nepal Urban Resilience Project (Sudridh-NURP), we place the mutually reinforcing link between inclusive urban economic growth and urban resilience at the center of our activities. Our project applies a holistic interpretation of urban resilience: moving beyond disaster resilience to consider other kinds of shocks and stresses, their interrelated impacts, and how to effectively address them.
Our focus on key municipal centers allows us to develop a replicable model approach to resilient urban development. On conclusion of the project, institutional capacity will exist to promote and embed inclusive design principles in a harmonized system of improved local governance.
The foundation of our approach lies in developing locally-relevant principles of accountable, inclusive, and participatory urban governance. This includes a focus on gender equality and applying the principle of “leave no one behind” to all that we do. We believe that building capacity in integrated urban planning and effective service delivery is fundamental to achieving resilient urban development in Nepal.
This transparent framework is employed through a process of “learning by doing” during the implementation of key projects in each selected municipality. This allows all stakeholders to gain an appreciation of the merit of formal administration systems to improve dialogue and accountability between all parties.
Vulnerable women received dignity kits as part of our COVID-19 response
Community Health Volunteers received Training of Trainers on Gender Based Violence (GBV)
People benefited from the handwashing stations everyday
"NURP has been our true partner. While there was a complete vacuum of development partners on the ground since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, NURP supported us through these very difficult times by working hand in hand with the Municipal Government."
Although the five-year project is only just over a year into implementation, Sudridh-NURP has already begun to show results, laying the foundation for the planned long-term impact.
Building trust with local government and other local stakeholders is crucial. One of the project’s early achievements is its ability to prove the efficacy of its adaptive method as we pivoted to respond to the challenges faced by municipalities from COVID-19.
In a very short period, and with the help of the support teams embedded in municipal government, we were able to fill key gaps and provide rapid support to help alleviate the suffering of vulnerable populations. Our team conducted a relief distribution assessment and mobilized the protection cluster to coordinate all efforts, as well as provided psychosocial support to the vulnerable population during quarantine.
Our support was highly appreciated; it's clear that NURP has been able to establish itself as a reliable and proactive partner for municipalities through its support to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Interventions that will have both short- and long-term impacts include improving hygiene and sanitation situation of quarantine centers through the design and installation of handwashing stations, and awareness campaigns using radio jingles that tackle issues triggered by the pandemic, one of which is gender-based violence.