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Kailash Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative
Simikot, Humla, Nepal
28 September 2021
Organizers: Namkha Rural Municipality, Nepal Tourism Board, and Kailash Sacred Landscape Initiative
The Kailash Confluence (KaiCon) is a transboundary platform between China (Pulan County) and Nepal (Humla District) that promotes cross-border trade and tourism. Pulan County and Humla District share socio-cultural, economic, and environmental ties. Strengthening this relationship, particularly in trade and tourism, can bring sustainable development and prosperity to the local communities.
Two iterations of the KaiCon event (in 2018 and 2019) were conducted under the leadership of Namkha Rural Municipality, with support from the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) and the Kailash Sacred Landscape Initiative, ICIMOD. These events were successful in highlighting Namkha Rural Municipality’s tourism potential at both national and international levels.
With a gap in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, KaiCon is being revitalized this year with the theme ‘The road to prosperity.”
This iteration of the event aims to achieve stakeholder actions and interventions on sustainable road connectivity for trade and tourism in Namkha Rural Municipality, which will be accomplished through the following sub-objectives:
The KaiCon 2021 event will include an interaction workshop in Simikot, Humla, followed by a field visit to Hilsa and the Limi Valley (in two separate groups).
The participants will include government representatives from the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport and its line agencies, tourism stakeholders, representatives from Karnali Province, and the organizing institutions – Namkha Rural Municipality, Nepal Tourism Board, Ministry of Forests and Environment, and ICIMOD.
Roads are a crucial tool to achieve sustainable development. They facilitate employment and economic opportunities through infrastructure development, access to markets (including tourism), education, and other facilities. Improved accessibility, especially through a functional road network, is also important for disaster management and rescue operations.
Roads can adversely impact the socio-culture resulting in loss of property, sacred spaces and cultural practices, and relocation of settlements. Similarly, negative environmental impacts include alteration of groundwater and surface runoff, habitat fragmentation, deforestation, subsequently biodiversity loss, and increased pollution. Balancing these impacts is of utmost priority to achieve sustainable development.
Humla is the only district in Nepal whose headquarters, Simikot, is yet to be connected to the national road network. The district is now connected to the national road network via Surkegad Rural Municipality. The road connection to Simikot is estimated to be completed in less than a year.
Simikot is well connected to China through a motorable earthen road via two points – Hilsa and Lapchya La. The Simikot-Hilsa road was started in the late 1990s by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) under their food for work program and subsequently undertaken by the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport’s Department of Roads. This road network has increased economic opportunities through cross-border trade (although mostly from China to Nepal).
In March 2016, the then Prime Minister of Nepal, KP Oli, signed an agreement with China for the construction of a ‘Friendship bridge’ over the Karnali River at Hilsa, along with improving about 100km of roads. There is an opportunity to enhance the socio-economic development of Namkha Rural Municipality and Humla District by reviving this bilateral agreement and ensuring the operation of an environment-friendly road network for trade and tourism.