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Revitalizing Kathmandu Valley Toward a Sustainable Urban Transformation

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Kathmandu Valley is Nepal’s largest urban agglomeration. Recently, it has experienced unprecedented population growth, leading to uncontrolled urbanization and encroachment on its ecological and cultural assets. 

The Kathmandu Ecological Urban Renewal Project Preparation, which started in March 2024, will lay the groundwork for revitalizing Kathmandu’s urban fabric to enhance living conditions and preserve its cultural and ecological values. 

Kathmandu Valley is home to three million people. With 18 municipalities across three districts – Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur – the valley is known for its rich cultural heritage and beautiful landscapes.  

However, its population growth, far outpacing the national average, has led to the encroachment of built structures on green areas, historical landscapes, and cultural monuments, including a historic water management system known locally as hiti. These vital water bodies have long been the lifeline of the people, and their preservation is vital not only for their historical and cultural importance but also for sustaining Kathmandu’s water supply. 

Addressing these challenges requires a holistic ecological renewal and urban transformation, focusing on connecting and improving green open spaces linked with existing water bodies, parks, and patches of urban forests while reviving the old hiti system and upgrading infrastructure in poorly serviced urban areas. 

As the starting point of this transformation, the ADB-CDIA project preparation study (PPS) will initially focus on Kathmandu and Lalitpur and expand later on to Bhaktapur and other municipalities. Beyond rejuvenating the valley, the PPS will also provide a model, which other cities grappling with similar challenges can replicate. 

The PPS will be carried out in two stages. Stage 1 involves crafting a green urban development strategy and identifying corresponding infrastructure investments for the Kathmandu and Lalitpur municipal corporations. It will also integrate technical, social, environmental, financial, and climate change considerations into the strategy. Moreover, Stage 1 will include stakeholder consultations, with particular attention to vulnerable populations, as well as capacity development roadmap formulation to build local capacities and strengthen implementing institutions. 

Stage 2 will delve deeper into the selected projects through pre-feasibility studies and conceptual engineering designs. It will establish their commercial viability and provide due diligence assessments.  

The PPS will set the groundwork for the anticipated ADB downstream financing, paving the way for project implementation. 

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