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Integrated settlements: How Nepal failed to implement this solution even after the devastating earthquake

It is said that destruction gives opportunities for reconstruction. After the catastrophic earthquake of April 2015, there was a hope that the disaster would open up doors to rebuilding the haphazard urban settlements and building integrated settlements in rural areas.

The reconstruction campaign, which has been going on for about seven years, has focused on rebuilding private houses as well as government and public infrastructures. But, relocating risky settlements and building houses in integrated settlements through land pooling and house pooling has not been completed. This dream promised at the beginning did not make it into the reconstruction ‘canvas’.

Though the National Reconstruction Authority, recently dissolved, had been telling the success stories of reconstructing 800,000 private houses, it has failed in the development of integrated housing areas, and it is not hidden.

According to infrastructure experts, if households scattered in the hilly areas could be brought together, it would have strengthened the social unity, harmony and security. It would have helped in systematic urbanisation and tourism promotion.

Some social engineers, organisations and locals have built integrated settlements with the help of various places. They built a model settlement for a few hundred households that gave a ‘trademark’ picture of the reconstruction. Nonetheless, the government failed in its initiative and its contributions have been insignificant. 

If the government had integrated high-risk settlements identified after the earthquake, there would have been more than 500 newly integrated settlements by now. But in these six and a half years, the NRA stayed satisfied with the rehabilitation of the old settlements only, ignoring a promising solution.

Mistakes from the beginning

Urban infrastructure expert and former secretary Kishor Thapa recalls that a policy was formulated to move ahead with the post-earthquake reconstruction in an integrated settlement modality.

Barpak, the epicentre of the 2015 earthquake, after reconstruction
Barpak, the epicentre of the 2015 earthquake, after reconstruction

“But, during the implementation, the work only got done to achieve numerical results. We we

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