- Urban Sprawl - A Necessary Evil? Towards a framework for research on urban containment for Kathmandu Valley, Nepal    click here to open paper content253 kb
by    Subba, Mahendra & Bjoenness, Hans Christie | hbjoenness@yahoo.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Subba (in 2003) made a baseline study of residential sprawl in Kathmandu. To expansion mainly from ’within’, aggressive sprawl has been added. Who are new actors and what is the role of the public sector? An urban containment policy is revisited.
Subba (2003) in his PhD,”Urban containment policy: Does it present a hope to manage an impending urban crisis of the Kathmandu Valley?” has established a ’baseline’ study. He addresses the causal process of unplanned residential sprawl in the peripheral locations of Kathmandu Valley. His detailed, comparative research reveals the contextual reality of unplanned sprawl. This is both in terms of access to fragmented peripheral properties for basic housing needs of expanding families, and the migrants’ preferences in locating to settle in the capital region. He has furthermore pinpointed the problems of haphazard land fragmentation, scattering of households, ‘leapfrogging’ into ’new’ peripheral areas and creation of wasteful use of land. The study reveals about the livelihood struggle of subsistence farmers with fragmented agricultural land.

We want to take his research further to the present day urban sprawl reality of fast change and tremendous pressure on limited land resources. The main questions asked are:

Who are the ’new’ actors in the process of residential and non-residential urban sprawl, and what is being produced? New gated communities and high rise housing is now in the market of Kathmandu. Existing land resources disappears in an accelerating way.

How can agriculturally based communities survive in an ever expanding urban sprawl? Going beyond the need to supply serviced urban land, the question raises the importance of agriculture based settlements and land conservation in urban fringe areas.

What is the role of the public sector in influencing the orderly transformation process and guiding urban growth?

And what can theoretical approaches inform? First, the ’contextual approach’ is bringing forward the principles and practices of settlement development of the past. Second and third, the contemporary approaches of ’agro pole’ and ’urban growth boundary’ to contain urban sprawl. And finally the pragmatic approaches of ’guided land development’, ’guided land upgrading and ’land readjustments’.

Finally, we return, through a contemporary review, to Mahendra Subba’s question: Is there any hope for an Urban Containment Policy for the Kathmandu Valley? Alternative paths for peoples action and public planning policy are drafted returning to the demanding on the ground reality and peoples struggle.

Key words: Residential urban sprawl, livelihoods of urban farmers, urban containment policies, Nepal

About the authors:
Dr.ing. Mahendra Subba is a senior planner and head of the physical planning and urban development section of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction of the Government of Nepal. msubba@wlink.com.np

Professor Hans Christie Bjoenness is from Department of Urban Design and Planning at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Hans.C.Bjonness@ntnu.no,hbjoenness@yahoo.com
Residental urban sprawl, livelihood of urban farmers, urban containment policies, Nepal
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