"Concrete Jungle where solutions are made of"

For urban october – for tomorrow – but from you!

Posted October 29, 2020

Picture credit: Ashish Devkota at AshishDBlogs

Do you live in a city, which you think is not well-planned? Do you think you are breathing polluted air in your city? Having open spaces and green parks is a luxury in your city? And are you facing mobility issues while commuting? If your answers are all yes, you have a great level of congruity with the Accelerator Lab in Nepal. Since August 2019, the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Nepal has been sensing the issues and challenges posed in the urban areas and unplanned urbanization as its frontier challenge and mapping local solutions for the same.

In our journey of sensing the complex issues that communities have, we found numerous problems related to urban municipalities/cities in Nepal, especially in the capital city, Kathmandu. Whether it is improper drainage system to mind-boggling air pollution, we, unfortunately, have them all. Not to forget to mention, solid waste management is another concern, wherein the solid waste generation is increasing annually in Kathmandu ( source:The Kathmandu Post, 2019). These are few of the many issues that are in the dire straits. Lab in Nepal, in the past one year, undertook an experiment on behavioral change of informal waste workers in partnership with an INGO called Medicines du monde and another experiment on transforming misused public spaces into green public parks in partnership with Lalitpur Metropolitan City and a team of artists and architects called Vriksha Foundation. The pocket park project was a social initiative that brought together the local community, private and public sector on a single platform to mitigate the problem of lack of open spaces caused by unplanned urbanization by turning a barren and neglected public space into a pocket park that is disable friendly and inclusive for all.  However, there’s a lot to do and unplanned urbanization is a very complex issue.

As  there is a say, when there’s a problem, there is a solution as well. Likewise, in the past few months, we have mapped some locally available innovative solutions, where we can work on to leverage and bolster the impact and address the issues of unplanned urbanization. From use of digital assets to citizens data, the concrete jungle of Kathmandu has some amazing and unconventional systemic entrepreneurs addressing the issues of the city. Following are few of those mapped solutions:

  • A mobile application called Walkman Green Coins that keeps track of the total steps one walks with the app turned on and converts those steps into coins, which can then be used to redeem discounts at a number of stores and restaurants across the valley
  • A ride sharing digital system called Bijuli Power (Electric Power) that uses electric vehicle/ rickshaws called “Safa Tempo” in the valley for commute and encourages costumers to promote digital footprints and reduce carbon footprints
  • ‘Lights On’ initiative for civic utility mapping through citizens data for mapping street lights in the valley for safety and community resilience
  • A mobile application called Any Time Toilet (ATT), that locates users to the nearest restrooms of restaurants in Kathmandu, as the city has a very limited public toilets and it’s a problem for tourists and general public.

Talking about cities and solutions, the UNDP Accelerator Lab and Hyundai motors globally partnered for an initiative called #fortomorrow to map grassroot sustainable innovative solutions on which the UNDP Accelerator Lab network, private sectors and development partners among others can tap into and help these solutions scale up; and currently we are asking for solutions related to SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. And for this, we need your help. If you have innovative, on-the-ground responses to the everyday challenges our cities and settlements in Nepal are facing in building a more sustainable, inclusive, and safer society; you can drop those existing solutions here

Looking forward to this collective action!

UNDP Accelerator Lab in Nepal is working closely with development partners, the private sectors and grassroot innovators as a “vehicle” to test innovative solutions around unplanned urbanization and unemployment. It is on a quest to invest technical expertise on these two frontier issues in order to map, and explore a portfolio of experiments to foresee more possibilities.