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 aged between 18 and 34


of waste recyclers in Nepal are originally from India

The situation in Nepal

Health and environment: rapid urbanisation in Nepal

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.

In Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, between 620 and 1,000 tonnes of waste are produced every day.

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 city.


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

Our activities in Nepal

Health and environment

Supporting informal waste workers in the kathmandu valley

In 2019, Médecins du Monde continued working in partnership with PHASE, a Nepalese NGO which supports migrant communities from the Himalayas, with the aim of breaking the cycle of poverty and improving their opportunities in terms of health, education and livelihood.

Together we work to prevent workplace accidents and disease among the waste workers and the communities which live near these sites. Our activities focus particularly on prevention and awareness-raising, as well as the provision of personal protective equipment (gloves, hats, shoes, safety vests and masks with filters).

Our teams also work in the health centres near the Bishnumati and Bagmati Rivers and the Sisdole landfill site to strengthen the individual and collective capacity of the informal waste workers and healthcare staff. The aim is to address the health problems associated with their work and to improve access to good quality care.

Médecins du Monde also supports the establishment of organised groups of informal waste recyclers so that over time their contribution to cleaner, healthier cities will be recognised.  

Following the publication in 2018 of the results of a first survey conducted in partnership with the University of Sheffield, Médecins du Monde released a new scientific report in November 2019.


After previously evaluating the socio-demographic characteristics and the health risks of informal waste management in the Kathmandu Valley, this latest study looked at how the informal waste recyclers perceive the risks in their working environment and the strategies they use to protect themselves.

These analyses feed into our advocacy work which seeks to achieve recognition of environmental health issues and the contribution made by informal recyclers to waste management in Nepal.



In 2019


  • helped 6,480 informal waste collectors and recyclers

  • supported 6 organisations

  • trained healthcare professionals

  • led 296 awareness-raising sessions about the environmental and occupational risks of waste management

  • took part in 10 conferences and round tables in Asia and Europe to present the results of the studies we conducted


our institutional support

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.

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