Une mère et son bébé, après le séisme d'avril 2015 (c) Olivier Papegniès



informal waste collectors and recyclers supported by Médecins du Monde


of waste recyclers are originally from India and face multiple social barriers


of informal waste collectors and recyclers report suffering from work-related injuries

Why humanitarian action is needed in Nepal

These statistics highlight an alarming situation, both in terms of health and socially, and demonstrate that humanitarian assistance is essential in Nepal.


Rapid urbanisation in Nepal is resulting in humanitarian emergencies

Nepal is experiencing the fastest rate of urbanisation in South Asia. The proportion of people living in urban areas has risen from 9% to 42% in just 20 years. The Kathmandu Valley, in which over a quarter of the urban Nepalese population is concentrated (over 6 million people), faces a number of different environmental problems, including the accumulation of solid waste, increasing pollution and waste water, and the release of toxic pollutants. In Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, between 620 and 1,000 tonnes of waste are produced every day.

Disastrous impacts on both the local environment and the health.

Poor management of solid waste exacerbates the appalling sanitary conditions, with disastrous impacts on both the local environment and the health of the informal waste workers and people who live in the capital.

As the situation continues to intensify, MdM has rolled out a humanitarian assistance plan for Nepal.


In front of a health centre, in Nepal © Olivier Papegnies
In front of a health centre, in Nepal © Olivier Papegnies

Our humanitarian support in Nepal


The impacts of this crisis situation are environmental, social and human, and action is needed to implement a range of plans to address the humanitarian emergency in Nepal.

Support our humanitarian action, make a donation for Nepal.


Supporting waste workers in the Kathmandu Valley and in Nepālganj

Following an initial project in 2018-2019 – Healthy Waste Workers in Kathmandu Valley – Médecins du Monde decided to continue to provide support and humanitarian assistance to informal waste workers in Nepal.

The new intervention, Healthy Waste Workers for Sustainable Waste Management (HWW4SWM), was launched in 2020. The aim is to improve the general health of informal workers in the waste management sector in the Kathmandu Valley. The project specifically seeks to mitigate their occupational risks and environmental exposure (in terms of working and living conditions) and to provide them with greater access to information and health services, including occupational health services. Finally, the initiative should facilitate greater recognition of their contribution to sustainable waste management in the Kathmandu Valley.


Medical aid in Nepal: collaborative action for health and the environment

In partnership with two local NGOs, SASAJA and Green Path Nepal, and the Kathmandu municipality, the programme takes a holistic approach, focusing on three main areas:

  • prevention of occupational risks and improving the waste management system
  • access to health services for informal waste workers
  • the structure of the informal waste collection and recycling sector

In 2020, Médecins du Monde expanded its humanitarian action in Nepal by extending Healthy Waste Workers for Sustainable Waste Management to Nepālganj in Lumbini Province, on the border with India. In partnership with the German development agency, GIZ, Médecins du Monde is seeking to improve the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of formal and informal workers in the waste management sector. They thus receive training on ways to mitigate their occupational risks and their exposure to harmful environments. They are also benefiting from better access to occupational health and prevention services.


Waste workers among the most vulnerable to Covid-19

In urban areas waste workers are the group that has been at greatest risk during the Covid-19 epidemic. This is due to their living conditions, the nature of their work and its informal character (for informal waste collectors and recyclers) and the everyday discrimination they face, especially in accessing health services. The imposition of lockdown measures and other restrictions by the authorities have led to a significant drop in their daily income and reduced access to essential basic services.

Different spelling from first mention above (Nepālganj). Both spellings appear to be valid, but probably best to choose one for consistency.


The humanitarian emergency in Nepal: providing protection and raising awareness

Through its humanitarian mission in Nepal, Médecins du Monde’s principal aim is to prevent transmission of Covid-19 among workers in the waste management sector. This is a group of people who are marginalised and exposed by the nature of their work, living conditions and extreme overcrowding. MdM has therefore distributed personal protective equipment and hygiene kits and organised training on good hygiene practices and protective measures.

Additional assistance has also been provided through the distribution of food and hygiene kits for the most vulnerable informal waste collectors and recyclers. In Kathmandu the staff at the health centres supported by MdM have also received personal protection equipment, including surgical masks and gloves. At the same time, healthcare workers in Nepālganj were provided with information about the risks inherent in working in waste management and were trained in how to provide appropriate care and treatment.



Humanitarian Action in Nepal

In 2020, we:

  • raised awareness about the risks of Covid-19 and preventative measures, reaching 900 waste workers
  • ran a large-scale information campaign on Covid-19, good hygiene practices and protective measures, which reached over 4,000 people
  • supported 200 informal waste collectors and recyclers and their families through the distribution of food and hygiene kits (800 people)
  • provided 670 waste workers and healthcare staff with personal protective equipment
  • supported 1,740 waste workers and members of their families with hygiene kits


our institutional support

Budget: €292,710
Ambassade de France au Népal
Community health and AIDS prevention programme opened in the districts of Baglung, Myagdi and Parbat (closed in 1999).
AIDS prevention programme opened in the districts of Gulmi, Arghakhanchi, Syangja and Palpa (closed in 2006).
First project combining access to healthcare services and microfinance in 12 communities in Sindhupalchok District.
Expansion of the programme to 10 more communities in the same district.
Emergency response following the earthquake.
Start of a post-emergency reconstruction programme in Sindhupalchok.
Waste management programme launched in Kathmandu Valley.
Launch of the Healthy Waste Workers for Sustainable Waste Management (HWW4SWM)

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