Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. It is a very old settlement that has grown into a metropolitan city. The historical evidences prove the existence of the town form 100BC1. Over time it gradually grew and during the mid 1970s it experienced rapid urbanization and growth in size and population. In 1991 City of Kathmandu was declared a metropolitan status2. In addition, Kathmandu city is part of the Kathmandu valley where 4 other urban centres exist within the valley.

Fast Facts:

Climate Tropical cool temperate
Area 50.8 square kilometers
Population 671,846 (1991)
Population Density 13,586 persons per square kilometer
Political Setting  
Division of Administration 35 wards
Economic Activities: Agriculture, commerce, manufacture, trade, tourism

Urban Infrastructure and Land-use

Kathmandu city is experiencing a rapid growth and as a consequence there is a massive conversion to built up area from agricultural land. Land uses with forest cover, open space and water bodies have diminutive existence. Built-up space is spreading outward from the city centre. No major pattern of planned housing development can be seen in the city. There is an organic growth of built-up area expect a few new planned housing colonies at the city periphery3. Currently two local planning measures land pooling (readjustment of land ownership) and guided land development programmes (planned urban development) have been implemented in the valley4. These programmes are trying to mitigate the unplanned urban growth of the city.


Kathmandu has a fairly good radial road network connecting it to other parts of the country. The city is connected to the eastern and western parts of the valley by the Arniko and Tribhuvan highways, while feeder roads connect the northern and southern parts of the valley to the city. The city does not have any bulk carrier infrastructure, shipping and railway. The only means of transportation in the city is by road but increase of automobile traffic makes the road structure inadequate. Urban growth in Kathmandu is occurring without adequate transportation infrastructure5. However, the historic city core does have an excellent pedestrian network and travel in the city is still dominated by walking. Buses and tempos are the dominant modes of public transport in which the private sector is playing a major role. The KMC has implemented the Municipal Infrastructure Improvement Project which is working to upgrade the transportation system of the city. 

Environmental Issues

Rapid unplanned growth of the city without proper infrastructure and services has given rise to numerous environmental problems (example Air pollution, solid waste, sanitation) in the city. Some of the major environmental problems are air pollution, and solid waste. The city in partnership with numerous organizations has initiated various initiatives to tackle these issues.

Kathmandu valley is shaped like a bowl with little natural air movement. Without vibrant natural air flow and various sources of air polluters such as automobile emission, and brick kilns the valley has a serious air pollution problem. To tackle the air pollution problem the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology in 2007 prepared a comprehensive draft action plan for air quality management of Kathmandu to the same standard as the national ambient air quality standard in five years6.  

Solid waste is another major concern for the city. The Waste generated is mainly dumped on the streets and container. It is collected by the KMC and disposed on a landfill site that is 25km away from the city. This site is a temporary solution but KMC is working to create a long term solution in another landfill site using innovative technology. KMC is working in collaboration with JICA and private and community participation to solve the waste management issue of the city7.

Several regional initiatives focusing on the environmental issues of Kathmandu valley have been created by the government. The planning document, Environment Planning and Management of Kathmandu Valley, of 1999 that analyse the ecological and environmental problems of the metropolitan region is one of the premier documents that are used to tackle the environmental issues of the city and the valley region. In addition the municipal is working with regional and local partners to enhance the urban environmental management of its area.

Urban Environmental Initiatives

Sisdol Landfill Facility

The Sisdol Landfill site is part of the initiatives of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and the Solid Waste Management Resource Mobilization Centre (SWMRMC) in improving the solid waste management system of the City. The facility, located in Okharpauwa VDC, has installed a semi-aerobic system that reduces leachate intensity (contamination) preventing soil and water contamination (JICA). The project has also installed a gas collection system that sets to capture part of the generated gas from the landfill and use this extracted gas on-site for electricity.  A flare system will also be installed in order to flare any excess and unutilized gas. The proposed project activity is expected to realize 238.239 tons of CO2 eq emission reductions8.

The landfill has been in operation since June 2005. This has been funded and supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Environmental Commitment of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC)

Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is committed to address the mounting challenges of urbanization; its impact on the environment, soceity and economy and take a leading role in promoting environmental stewardship building mutual support and coooperation with cities in Asia Pacific region. As concrete demostration of this commitment, by the year 2010, KMC will:

(1) Improve transportation and waste collection system;

(2) Select and construct more transfer stations and landfill site;

(3) Promote public participation and behavioral change by establishing more nature clubs, training programs and regular interation with locals;

(4) Conduct media campaign for waste segregation at source

(5) Lobby tax exception for material recycling;

(6) Manage and implement community-based clean up programs such as street clean-up, community parks, historical places and temples and river clean up programs;

(7) Promote household composting programs by providing compost bins and bags at 45% subsidy rate;

(8) Cooperate with central government to proceed establisment of long-term landfill site;

(9) Expand more community-based recycling center and medium scale vermi-composting;

(10) Promote biogas technology from vegetable waste and night soil waste;

(11) Mobilize school children and local communities for environmental activities;

(12) Provide training and assistance to community groups interested in environmental protection;

(13) Mobilize youth city volunteers as a linkage between KMC and citizens in environmental campaign;

(14) Assist locals in marketing recycled products and provide a forum for recycling industries to display a raising of public awareness programs through mass media such as meesage board, exhibition, metro FM and national televising to promote their products;

(15) Assist MoLD in preparing the new Solid Waste Management Act and National Solid Waste Management guidelines;

(16) Implement Kathmandu Metropolitan City's (KMC) Public-Private-Partnership guidelines;

(17) Prepare the Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) Bi-laws in partnership with UN-Habitat and a local NGO;

(18) Enfoce sanitation bi-laws.

Achievements (2007-2008):

(1) Established 8 solid waste collection sites;

(2) Selected a solid waste transfer station at Balaju Park and Aletar landfill site with the coppertion of Nepal Government;

(3) Conducted regular training programs for local wards on waste segregtion methodology based on 3R;

(4) Regularly conducted clean up programs in 30 public places (from June 2007- May 2008);

(5) Distributed 2000 bins for solid waste management in May 2008;

(6) Established vermin compostinmg plant in Teku.



(1) 1999. Regmi.

(2) Kathmandu Metropolitan City Office. <http://www.kathmandu.gov.np/eng_index.php>.

(3) 2007. Thapa et al.

(4) Karki, T. J Assessment of regional and urban development policies and programs of Nepal

(5)  2007. Thapa et al.

(6) 2007.International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

(7) 2007.International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

(8) 2006. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Sisdol Landfill Gas to Energy Project.





United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Environment Section
Environment and Sustainable Development Division
United Nations Building, Rajdamnern Avenue
Bangkok 10200 Thailand
Email: escap-esdd-evs@un.org

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

Kitakyushu Initiative Network Secretariat
3-9-30 Asano, Kokurakita-ku
Kitakyushu City 802-0001 Japan
Email: kitakyushu-initiative@iges.or.jp