Mr. Neeraj Dangol1
1University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
The majority of informal settlements in Kathmandu are located along the riverbanks and are threatened by flood during monsoon seasons. Residents of these informal settlements are excluded from urban development policies. The Nepalese government considers them illegal settlements responsible for the deterioration of the river environment and the water security of the citizen, where the term ‘citizen’ excludes informal dwellers. The government’s current policies and actions regarding informal settlements mainly focus on their eviction without proper alternatives in the name of development and beautification of the city. Lack of recognition by the government and constant threat of forced eviction have made informal dwellers’ adverse living conditions more difficult while they are suffering from the flood impacts. This raises several questions when the ‘future’ of the city is constructed. When the future of the city is visioned, do we realise that it not only excludes the future of informal dwellers but also portrays them as an eyesore to the image of the city? Why are their necessities, voices, dreams and aspirations unworthy to be considered when they are serving the city while living in hazardous conditions? Are we aware of this inequality in the making of the future based on the differences in socio-economic conditions and access to power? The questions continue, who is making the future and for whom? How can the collective dream of the future be inclusive? How do we ensure that there will be no non-citizens left out in making the future of the citizens?
Neeraj Dangol is a PhD candidate and casual faculty at the University of Melbourne. His dissertation is on factors affecting riverbank informal settlers’ flood adaptation of housing. He is an urban planner and architect who has worked with government agencies in Nepal. His research interests include informal urbanism, disaster risk reduction, community resilience, and governance.