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Whitman College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Nepal: Development and Social Change


The Bagmati and its tributaries have been an integral part of the Kathmandu Valley civilization. The river not only became a source of sustenance for the Valley's population but also gained religious-cultural significance. However, rapid urbanization and increasing industrial activities have transformed this once pristine river into an open sewer. Governmental organizations, NGOs, and community members are working towards improving the conditions of the Bagmati River through restoration projects and public awareness campaigns. Because of the large number of actors, collaboration on projects is vital in order to avoid duplication or conflict. After nearly thirty years of failed restoration projects and overall lack of improvement to the Bagmati River Corridor, my research asks two questions, who should hold the authoritative power over the rehabilitation of the Bagmati River Basin? How can these institutions be restructured to be more effective in their implementation? By investigating the ways in which these actors are collaborating on the restoration and reclamation of the Bagmati River and how these actors’ definitions of development and goals for development projects align; I can assess the effectiveness on some of the projects in progress. From my research, I suggest that larger institutional changes need to be made in order for restoration of the Bagmati to succeed. This involves creating a representative body to include a greater variety of voices in decision-making. Moreover, a multi-institutional approach to restoration has the potential to be a more effective method due to the instability of Nepal’s central government.


Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Water Resource Management

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