The Cost of Urbanization on Nepal - Doctors of the World

The Cost of Urbanization on Nepal

The Kathmandu Valley, concentrates more than half of Nepal’s urban population (nearly 4 million people). As a result of the rapid urbanization in this region, it now has to deal with various environmental problems partly related to the poor management of solid waste and air and water pollution. In the capital, more than 1,000 tons of waste are produced every day resulting in deplorable sanitary conditions.

The poor management of solid waste has a disastrous impact on the local environment and on the health of informal waste workers, as well as the inhabitants of the Nepalese capital. The environmental issues related to the collection and management of waste are relatively similar in Nepalgunj, in the district of Banke, where Doctors of the World also operates. This crisis situation is the result of unbridled urbanization and affects the environment as well as social and human aspects. Médecins du Monde has therefore deployed a humanitarian aid plan in Nepal.


Support Waste Collectors & Recyclers 


Since 2018, DoTW has been working with waste collectors and recyclers in the Kathmandu Valley, and in 2020, has extended its activities to Nepalgunj.

The activities carried out in the two regions contribute to improving the health, well-being and livelihoods of collectors and recyclers in the waste sector. In concrete terms, DoTW aims to mitigate the risks associated with their professional activity and their exposure to a harmful environment and to improve their access to information and to appropriate, quality health services – including in the field of occupational health. Finally, this intervention should enable better recognition of their contribution to sustainable waste management in Kathmandu and Nepalgunj.

In 2021, DoTW supported the creation of a coordination platform in Kathmandu and Nepalgunj with public and private organizations, civil society or non-governmental organizations involved in the collection and recycling waste: the players in this sector were able to meet, discuss and draw attention to the problems encountered by workers in this sector, thus strengthening their power to act.

Throughout these years, DoTW strengthened the access of collectors and recyclers in the waste sector to quality health services adapted to their professional activity. Awareness sessions were organized for beneficiaries, in particular on the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders, the prevention of risks related to the dismantling of waste, or even on the prevention of animal bites and the tetanus vaccine.

DoTW has further strengthened the capacities of health care facility staff on health and safety at work: the staff of these facilities can thus offer medical consultations adapted to waste collectors and recyclers.  Finally, Médecins du Monde has supported the municipality of Kathmandu in upgrading an innovative health center, becoming an “urban center for the promotion of health”, accessible to workers in the waste sector but also to the inhabitants of the Valley. 

In 2021, Doctors of the World has:

  • Made 1,700 waste collectors and recyclers aware of the risks associated with COVID-19, preventive measures and occupational health, through 232 awareness sessions,
  • Distributed 1,250 sets of personal protective equipment for workers in the waste sector and health personnel,
  • Supported 22 health centers, including the urban health promotion center in Kathmandu, 4 COVID isolation centers and 14 health centers in Nepalgunj,
  • Trained 67 health and safety center staff and personnel in the workplace.