Inclusive policies, exclusionary practices: unfolding the paradox of prolonged urban informality debates in urbanising Nepal

Anushiya Shrestha, Dilli Poudel, Jonathan Ensor

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Social inclusion and poverty alleviation are central to the United Nations (UN) new urban agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities. In Nepal, the goal of the National Urban Agenda is to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, sustainable and smart to enhance their ability to provide decent jobs and adequate housing, infrastructure and services to the ever-growing urban population”. Against this backdrop, many international and national non-governmental organisations and the national federations of informal settlers in Nepal have been advocating for the rights of urban informal settlers to be included in the urban planning processes. In response, the Nepal government has formulated new policies to assess the “authenticity” of informal settlers and accelerate the informal to formal transition process. Drawing from the textual analysis of existing national policies, literature and media publications, in this paper, we document what (dis)connections and contradictions exist in the formal policies and interventions that the national government has designed for addressing urban informality issue and how they frame urban informality issues and the solutions to manage the same. Our analysis shows that although government policies are rhetorically inclusive and progressive, indicating a desire to resolve informality issues, policies issued by different ministries and departments are disconnected. We also find that the practices often contradict the policies, and attempts to secure transitions to formality are undermined by a failure to recognise the legitimate stake that informal settlers have in the process. We conclude by discussing how these contradictions and inconsistencies can potentially be redirected towards socially just urban transition and suggesting ways forward for addressing the protracted urban informality issue in Nepal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-46
Number of pages26
JournalNew Angle: Nepal journal of social science and public policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2022

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© Shrestha et al., 2021

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