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FAZ Article by Christiane Brosius

Apr 24, 2018

The German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) published an article by Cluster member Prof. Christiane Brosius on April 23, 2018. The article “Darf die Felsenknospe wieder blühen?” deals with foreign investors  and large-scale projects who  entered Nepal since reconstruction works have began after the tremendous earthquake in 2015.

The article explains that while real estate and property prices in Nepal have already increased significantly before the earthquake, they are now reaching ceiling prices, which has serious socio-economic consequences for the local population. This development is driven by  policies applied by the Nepali government, who hopes to make the country an important economic zone by opening up its markets to foreign investments. This includes especially large-scale infrastructure projects from neighboring countries like India and China.

Prof. Brosius’ article points out the two-edged impact of those investments on the Nepali population, who benefits from reconstructions of destroyed buildings and improved infrastructure on the one hand, but faces serious challenges regarding cultural and indigenous heritage loss on the other hand. Activists warn that the costs for resettlements and expropriation in the interest of infrastructure projects might have to be borne by small-scale farmers and local residents. Inhabitants request the protection of the community as also their involvement in decision-making processes in order to protect their cultural heritage. This also includes the protection of the so-called “Patis” which are traditional buildings where people come together and gather, pray or chat. According to the article, such collaborative celebrations and rituals helped the Nepali population during the aftermath of the earthquake.  

However, the article also points out the challenges of Nepal’s dependence on foreign tourists, who are mainly attracted by Nepal’s cultural richness. This foreign interest is taken into account by speculators and investors who offer cultural  tourism  journeys at the cost of local structures with gentrification as a consequence.

Trying to solve Nepal’s economic challenges by liberalizing its economy, capitalizing its culture and building “smart cities” is going to be at the expense of the low- and middle-income population and might, thus not be the first-best solution.