As A Rapporteur in 3rd National Population Debate 2011: POPULATION and URBANIZATION

The world has approached a population of 7 billion on 30th October 2011, which has been a major milestone in human history. The world’s population, which has doubled since 1967, is rising by about 78 million people each year, and is projected to reach 9 billion by 2045. For every 100 people added to the world’s population, 97 are in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). It is estimated that there are 1.8 billion adolescents and youth in the world today, accounting for nearly a third of the world’s population.

In 2001, the population of Nepal reached 23.2 million(Population and Housing Census 2001, Central Bureau of Statistics ) with the growth rate of 2.24 percent per annum and it is forecasted to increase to 51.2 million by 2050. The Population and Housing Census 2011 will provide further information on the population of Nepal.

In order to stimulate contemporary debate on emerging population issues of Nepal and gather national and regional perspectives on the issues, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Nepal is supporting the government and Association of Youth Organizations Nepal (AYON) to organize a series of population debates among key stakeholders during the year 2011. The underlying purpose of the debates is to advocate for better policy alignment of population issues with the national development agenda and poverty reduction goals towards attainment of ICPD goals by 2014 and MDGs by 2015.

The opening of 3rd National Population Debate kicked off on 2 December 2012 which was formally initiated by the program moderator Mr. Brabim Kumar K.C (General Secretary, AYON). With the warm greetings he welcomed the distinguished guests, paper presenters, commenters and other participants in the debate. “City is the dream and to fulfill the dream, migration from village towards city is the ongoing process. The rural are changing into the urban rapidly.” said Mr. K.C.

Reflecting on the Population Plan of Nepal for twenty years including the thematic areas, Mr. Padam Raj Bhatta (Joint Secretary, MoHP) explained in brief about the objective and overview of the debate. He further directed that the views and visions that come from the experts in the debate will support and help for the policy makers to implemented different programs for the success of the Action Plan on the Population Plan. The final report from all the debates will be disseminated in between the stakeholders, related organizations and governmental offices and also to everyone through media and website. “Urbanization is the positive aspect of development but unmanaged urbanization has brought negative impacts creating different challenges along with the opportunities. The agricultural lands are being urbanized due to lack of proper implementation of the plan and policies.” said Mr. Bhatta.

Presenting his paper, Mr. Bhusan Tuladhar (Region Technical Adviser, UN-Habitat) highlighted the impacts of rapid urbanization on the environment where the population has been sustaining their day to day lives. Within the past two years, there are two major milestones in the world’s demography. First, in the history of the world, for the very first time more than 50% of the global population has been settling in the urban than in rural areas. And, the second milestone is that the world’s population has reached 7 billion in October, 2011. The pressure on environment from deforestation and infrastructure development for human settlement, better management of industrial and household wastages and the effective policy interventions for coping rapid urbanization and harnessing potentials of urban growth were well presented in his paper. He also focused on the challenges that the nation will be facing on slum habitation. “Urbanization itself is not a problem and solid waste is new emerging challenge. Nepal is not a poor country but poorly managed country. The vehicle centric transportation system neither worthiest for the pedestrian nor for traffic. Be a Part of Solution Not Pollution, the Choice Is Yours!!” said Mr. Tuladhar.

Commenting on Mr. Tuladhar’s presentation, Mr. Girija Prasad Gorkhali (Deputy Director General, Urban Development, DUDBC) defines Urbanization as the increase in population density, productivity and activities. He also added the cause for the environmental problem might be the gathering of people at a certain place with high living standards. He also gave some examples of the developed countries like Canada and China. He further clarifies the increase in density doesn’t mean increasing the pollution. It is easier to control environmental pollutants in urban areas than in rural areas. He gave an example of Water treatment plant in Dulikhel, which increased the demand of plant in that community for irrigation. He also reflected on the high rise buildings and public transportation. He expressed his due concern on Cycle lanes which have been not implemented due to political huddles. “The major problem of Urban is the Tragedy of Commons, increasing governance problems. Science defines every technology are possible but Engineering defines things are possible only when they are economically beneficial. Every change is little bit painful.” said Mr. Gorkhali.

Presenting the interlink between Urbanization and migration from rural to urban, Mr. Yogendra Gurung (Associate Professor, Central Department of Population Studies, TU) defined population as a resource which should be utilize rather than controlled. He reflected on managing the increasing population and developing the environment for it. Though there is less fertility but there is high potentiality of fertility. He highlighted the increase in working age population in the recent years than in past years. It is a demographic window that is really helpful for economic growth. This phase comes only once in a country. He also highlighted on the recent data about Total Fertility Rate (2.6%) and its supportive factors like Contraceptive Privileges Rate (43%), Infant Mortality Rate (46%), Life Expectancy at Birth (68%), Literacy Rate(61%) and so on. TFR is highly affected by youth migration and labor migration. The increasing trend of rural-urban migration is due to residential and transitional migration for resettlement, security and other facilities. He further added the importance of theoretical debate for better implementation of the policies made for the population. “Migration is not a process to stop but should be managed and subjected in the policies. It can be managed if agriculture is industrialized and commercialized for the economical uplift.” said Mr. Gurung.

Focusing on the Population and Urbanization, Mr. Keshab Sthapit (Former Mayor, Kathmandu) highlighted on his new TV program called “Yeso Garey Kaso Hola” and the resettlement of 80 households of Sukumbasi by forming Urban Community Support Fund. He urged government for making a new community for the people living near by the river corridor. He also focused on the compensation for land pulling and increasing violence. It is not the time to invest in land pulling but for generating revenues. Transportation is not the problem if there is implementation policy and good governance. Suspended Elevator proposed by China and showed demo that runs from electricity and is quite cheap and faster. He also focused on Fuel station management in the cities and proposed for service station as well as parking system in Kathmandu. “The poor inside the cities like Ashan Bazar in Kathmandu is also a subject of major concerned. In 29 days, around 67km road can be constructed.” said Mr. Sthapit.

OPEN FLOOR

After the presentation and comment sessions there was open floor for the audience where the debate become more interactive and many questions and queries were discussed.

Ms. Sangita Singh

  • Impacts of Urbanization should include Food Security in context of Carbon and Ecological Footprint as agriculture is less prioritized and poultry is encouraged these days.

Mr. Rabindra Bhattarai

  • The paper presentations were more philosophical and the implementation is more donors driven which are more guided from western societies not by oriental system.
  • How can the people who are facing the problems be benefited by the technologies?
  • He focused on the green belts in the cities that have been recently destroyed which were a good option for the oxygen pocket.
  • There should be planned and systematized actions no patch works.
  • He brainstormed on mind set on why we should make municipalities when the government can invest more in municipalities but cannot allocate the same investment for VDCs?
  • We can develop our country in our own ways uniquely.

Mr. Dibyaju Shrestha

  • Urbanization is inevitable process which cannot be stopped for decades mostly in developing countries.
  • In context of Nepal, imbalanced and unplanned urbanization is the main problem.
  • He also focused on carrying capacity and trade off along with the infrastructures and provisions regarding different aspects of environment for affluence by compromising with the environment.
  • Urbanization is controlling around 60% National GDP of the country. The great challenge to be addressed is we need development without damaging the environment.

Mr. Megh Raj Dhakal

  • We can evaluate Urbanization in three ways: Development, Kitchen Waste and Communities where development has become destruction.
  • Rainwater harvesting is the old tradition as in the past years the housing styles used to conserve water but these days the water is drained and mixed with sewages into the rivers directly.
  • He focused on unmanaged and uncategorized wastages from kitchen which can be reused, recycled and reduced. Municipality should bring advocacy programs.
  • Talking about communities, the investment should be focused on cost benefits so going for satellite planning might be useful and best for management of the urbanization.
  • Fertile land is used for habitation and many lands are left barren. If the land is used properly like fertile land for agriculture and production and barren land for habitation, it will combat the upcoming problems like food crisis and famine.
  • He also mentioned the importance of changing the definition of development bridging the urban and rural aspects of the country.

Mr. Sabin Limbu

  • What are the major problems raised from slum communities? From the perspectives of the municipal governance what are the challenges and opportunities to address those problems at institutional level?
  • Is the land pulling process to broaden the road is sustainable transportation management? With the increase in length and width of the road, won’t there be increase in ownership and number of vehicles in coming days? What is the guarantee that there won’t be traffic crisis?
  • What if we promote the other sustainable, environment friendly and efficient transportation systems like investing on local and affordable transportation, walk friendly footpath and dedicative bike (cycle) friendly lane?

Mr. Badrinath Koirala

  • What is the model of development of our country and 20years National Population Action Plan?
  • 36.9% of total population is in migrating process, among which 81% is rural to urban migration and 7% is from urban to rural due to lack of sources of service and development in rural areas.
  • As there are different trends and reasons for migration, what are the exact definitions of migration and migrants?
  • Development should be in between the people not people around the development World Bank Report (1996).

Mr. Bipin Chitrakar

  • If there were representatives from Ministry of Environment, then this debate would be more fruitful.
  • The apartment system has somehow has helped to manage the urban areas. Such type of system should be promoted and the unmanaged land use and housing that affects the environment and infrastructures should be controlled.
  • It is necessary to debate on apartment system which has been hindered from the governmental ignorance which has been pushing Nepal towards economical failure.

Mr. Padam Raj Bhatta

  • There are the time bound action plan made for 20years which will be implemented by different intuitions and governmental officials.
  •  The action plan also focuses on resettlements and management of the migrants as well as development of satellite towns in the country.

Conclusion

Mr. Keshab Sthapit gave an example of Bhaktapur Bus Park and the benefit of transferring it to the old bus park. He also focused on effects of fumes and smokes due to traffic jams which can be easily combated when the width of road is widen. China proposed the Suspended Elevator Mass Transit for zero investment from Nepal which will reduce the private transportation in the city. The slum communities are not the problem because of the land occupied by the slum the land is protected from illegal land use. The resettlements of slum near by the forest cause the destruction of forest which is not sustainable so the better way is to resettle then in the land pulling areas of government. The slum is our strength who has been serving us as the vendors and labors. The slum is neither the threat nor the problem but the opportunities. The governmental officials are granted and the slums are inflicted in such cases. The attitude for slum should be transformed.

Mr. Bhusan Tuladhar said that Food Security is one of the major issues. The per capita emission of carbon dioxide in Kathmandu is lesser than in comparison with the per capita emission of Nepal. Because the food has to come from far distance inside Kathmandu, the ecological footprint increases at times which is also a vital issue. The most challenging aspect of urban areas is governance which is easier in rural areas. Urbanization should be decentralization. Unmanaged and imbalanced urbanization are the major problems. If the theoretical part can be implemented practically, that is the great achievement. There should be infrastructures for development which should be people centric which will probably solve the ongoing problems.

Mr. Bijay Thapa, Assistant Representative, UNFPA conveyed his vote of thanks to the chairs, presenters, commenters and participants of the debate. He mentioned that we are in political, social and economic transition phase which is directly interlinked with population and poverty reduction. It is very important to be debated with different stakeholders on these issues for policy plan and formulation of population dynamics. This population debate has been started in accord to the 7 billion population of the world in 2011. The debates are being organized on the key issues of population in central level as well as at 18 district levels to integrate the policy. UNFPA commits to analyze all the data and National database regarding population dynamic and debate on them in coming years by identifying Nation Research agendas. It also commits for activities to be Youth focused for the capacity building, inclusive participation and sensitizing them for decision making for policy implementation.

Mr. Pradeep Pariyar, President, AYON expressed his gratitude towards everyone in the debate for their participation. He reflected that youth are the most energetic, innovative and productive and they keep on dreaming about the better place for their future which makes them migrate from place to place. This has resulted youth distraction from the elder people in their families. Due to globalization and urbanization youth are being seriously affected because they are in search of opportunities and platform. He requested all the policy makers in the debate to focus on youth and make the policies as well as implement them which trigger the youth issues and perspectives. Now days, all the action plans are made focusing on present generation than coming generation. If we look for next generation and make policy accordingly, it will be more effective for the management of urbanization

Mr. Praveen Mishra, Secretary, MoHP thanked the chairs and all the participants of the debate and said urbanization and population are correlated. It is important to make proper policy to control the trend migration from village to district, district to region and region to abroad. The cities have been centric for people because of the infrastructures and holistic development. He supported that there should be development around the people and due to lack of fulfilling the basic needs and amenities, urbanization is being more rapid.  Policy and strategy should be made Youth perspective by prioritizing them. Securities, health, safe drinking water, job, education so on are the main reasons that people are migrating towards urban areas. So it is very important to decentralize and manage the infrastructures and basic needs as well as balance the minimum requirements. All the Ministries should take it as the multisectorial and cross cutting issue and approach in a holistic way within a certain time frame. He requested MoHP to include the inputs of debate in the strategic process and policy making in coming days.

Mr. Atma Ram Panday, Joint Secretary, National Planning Commission (NPC) expressed his sincere gratitude towards everyone present in the debate for their valuable inputs and time. He emphasized everyone to be positive because he believes there is nothing that is impossible. He appreciated the presentations of Mr.Tuladhar and Mr. Gurung. He was really inspired by the vision of Mr. Sthapit. He also said the debate was really informative. He also introduce about the population department which was halted due to politics. The institutional mechanisms has been neglected which should be at first assaulted and effective along with right person in a right place with a holistic approach. After all the circumstances, at least Population Perspective Plan has been developed as an indicative plan which still needs to be worked out and further defined according to logical framework.

He also reflected the migration of youth due to economic transition and lack of exploring opportunities. He also said that youth had been discriminated, frustrated and few have even loss their lives. This is the biggest challenge for the country. This is one of the vulnerable issues for the people. We do not lack human resources, skills, governance but all we lack is management, exploration, proper utilization and mobilization of the available human resources. Lastly, he appealed for the need of the political level will power and commitment for the implementation and actions.

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About Caveeta Gautam

A simple student of ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE, a lil girl who wants to explore this big world.. She loves net surfing and finding about earth..knowing about different countries.. studying the changes on earth.. ever ready to learn new things.. get involved in environment conservation, management and awareness activities..

Posted on December 5, 2011, in Environment. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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