In 2015, the Constitution of Nepal was promulgated and the country initiated its federalization process which divided the Government into three tiers: federal, provincial, and local. Before the federalization, 83 identified open spaces were a national level responsibility and were protected through the publishing of a national gazette in 2013 that listed all open spaces. The national gazette also includes provisions for monitoring of the 83 open spaces to prevent encroachment of the sites. Since the federalization, local governments also have a responsibility for the protection of such areas in their urban or rural municipalities.
In this context, IOM – the UN Migration Agency – as co-lead of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management cluster and with support from the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, undertook a survey to identify suitable open spaces in five municipalities of five earthquake affected districts from Bagmati and Gandaki Provinces. The project aims to enhance the decision-making process at a municipal level to mitigate possible losses during a disaster by identifying and updating open spaces. Identification and mapping of open spaces in Gorkha Municipality of Gorkha District is one of the components of the project.
The scope of this study covers a detailed topographical survey of all identified open spaces, collection of attribute information, environmental checklist, collection of data on critical infrastructures around each identified open space and development of various maps. The scope also includes dissemination of the maps through both digital and hard copy platforms as well as installation of map boards at prominent locations within the Municipality. Further, the study promotes the preparation and use of open data for disaster preparedness as the datasets collected during the project will also be uploaded to the national disaster information management system or Building Information Platform Against Disaster platform developed by the Government of Nepal.
59 locations were suggested as suitable open spaces by local representatives, from which 11 open spaces have been finalized after a detailed field study and series of interactions with elected local representatives, municipal officials and local stakeholders and humanitarian actors. Most of the suggested locations were not considered suitable due to small area, high gradient and difficult access. The 11 identified open spaces have a total area of 88,482.772 m2 and total usable area of 57,585 m2. As per the Sphere Standards (3.5 m2 per person), the total usable area can accommodate at least 16,452 displaced persons. The selection of these open spaces is based on the total area with a slope of 0-5°, road accessibility, distance from settlements, availability of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, market access and availability of other critical facilities near the open spaces. Besides these 11 finalized open spaces, 74 other locations as suggested by the local population were also surveyed and details on their current land use practice and total usable flat area were collected.
This assessment was conducted as a part of the “People to People Support for Building Community Resilience through Recovery and Reconstruction in Nepal” project, financially supported by the people of Thailand through the Government of Thailand. The project is being implemented in the eight worst 2015 earthquake affected rural and urban municipalities of Bagmati and Gandaki Provinces.