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Published on Feb 21, 2013
The Poverty Environment Initiative is supporting the Government of Nepal to reduce the environmental impact of economic activities such as the extraction of sand, gravel and stones, and the construction of rural roads.
And to ensure that better management of natural capital generates income and employment for the poor.
This included economic analysis and practical recommendations on how to sustainably develop both sectors.
So far, several Local Governments have banned the use of heavy machinery to construct roads. In Dhading district, a progressive fine starting with 5'000 rupees (58$) has been established and contracts with any road developer force them to employ local people to undertake the construction work. This has resulted in the employment of thousands of people and in the construction of more sustainable roads. Using environmentally friendly construction methods, proper water management, bioengineering and taking into consideration the recommendations of Environmental Impact Assessments.
The sand, gravel and stones industry generates up to 70% of the GDP of some Nepalese districts.
Unsustainable extraction methods were having high economic costs, since they were damaging Nepal's road infrastructure and the country's invaluable ecosystems.
This was enough for the Government of Nepal to take action. Now, the law says that extraction companies cannot settle in locations that harm valuable ecosystems. They need to be at least 2 km away from forests, 500 meter from highway, and 500 meters from a bank of rivers. And that any businesses must take measures not to damage roads and to employ local labor.
On top of that, now, EIA's and IEE are a requirement in 12 different sectors. And are mandatory to start any road construction activity or any extraction of sand, gravel and stones.
Reducing the environmental impact of extracting natural resources and making sure that infrastructure development employs local communities has proven in Nepal to have great potential to reduce poverty. And takes allows advantage of the country's natural capital without undermining the wellbeing of future Nepalese.