Economics ETDs


Menuka Karki

Publication Date



The Kathmandu Valley is a rapidly growing and densely populated largest urban area, which includes the capital city, in Nepal, and it faces the challenge of protecting environment and safeguarding public health. This dissertation spans over three separate papers and addresses the two environmental issues of the Kathmandu valley i.e., management of solid waste and outdoor air pollution. Solid waste management related two papers talk about peoples preference and willingness to pay for improvement in the solid vi waste management service, and the determinants of people's recycling behavior. Outdoor air pollution paper estimates health impact of exposure to outdoor air pollution. All the papers use primary data from a household survey conducted in 2012. Chapter 2 estimates the Kathmandu Valley residents' preferred changes to the existing household solid waste management using a choice experiment survey. Included waste management attributes are waste collection time, community waste management program, waste segregation types, frequency of waste collection and the monthly user fee. According to the results, sub-urban and core-urban residents have distinctively different preference for their most preferred attribute and willingness to segregate waste. For example, people in the core urban area are willing to pay the most (i.e., 404 Rupees per month per household) for having a community waste management program and people in the sub-urban area are willing to pay the most for (480 Rupees per month per household) for scheduled waste collection. Sub-urban area residents are willing to segregate two type of waste, but core urban residents are not willing to segregate any. An average Kathmandu Valley resident prefers having a waste management program and scheduled and frequent waste collection service in his/her community.. Kathmandu Valley residents, however, are willing to accept less frequent collection given the waste is collected in a scheduled time frame, which is an important policy implication for municipalities to optimally allocate their resources. People value walking shorter distances to dispose of their household waste. Based on the findings of this chapter, each municipality should create a unique set of waste management services that address the preferences of that municipality's residents, which will help municipalities to optimally allocate resources. Improvement in existing household solid waste management is important to protect the environment, the quality of the groundwater (source of the valley's drinking water), and reduce public health problems. Improved waste management also helps to maintain the aesthetic beauty of the city and overall, contributes to securing sustainable urban development. Previous studies on solid waste management in the Kathmandu Valley focus at solid waste management at the aggregate level by analyzing Kathmandu valley's municipal waste management. About 70 percent of the total municipal waste, however, comes from household. In such scenario, this chapter contributes to provide important policy recommendations to improve vii Kathmandu Valley's solid waste management service from the perspective of household's preference towards it. Chapter 3 analyzes the impact of exposure to outdoor air pollution on Kathmandu valley residents' health, more specifically on the probability of experiencing nausea, dust allergies, and respiratory illness. This chapter focuses on outdoor air pollution resulting from anthropogenic activities such as vehicle and industrial emissions, biomass and fossil fuel combustion, and biogas emissions from waste dumping sites. In comparison to all other source of pollutants, traffic emission has the strongest effect on these three measures of health as roads are the closest source of pollution. An average Kathmandu valley resident lives 28 meters away from the road. Our results show that people who live between 10 to 30 meters from the road are significantly more likely to experience nausea, dust allergies, and respiratory diseases. Adults less than 36 years old are less susceptible to such pollution exposure in comparison to older adults. People with higher education are more mobile, which keeps them more exposed to outdoor air pollution and are more likely to experience such health problems. Based on time activity pattern (measured through occupation) unskilled day laborers, who spend majority of their working hours in close proximity to road, are the most susceptible population to outdoor air pollution in comparison to housewives and people with indoor working environments. An average Kathmandu Valley resident is 16 percent less likely to experience nausea, dust allergies, and respiratory illness if he/she lives 100 meter further from a road from his/her current location. Based on the accumulated opportunity cost and medical cost, an average Kathmandu valley resident saves total of 389.17 Nepalese Rupees by living 100 meter farther from road. This chapter approaches to analyze impact of air pollution in a different way. Usually previous studies collect data on air pollutant level and related its effect on public health. This study, however, measures exposure to public health based on proximity to the sources of pollution. This study also extends on existing work by identifying the variation (heterogeneity) in exposure to outdoor pollution among communities using the multi-level modeling technique. Chapter 4 identifies the factors determining household's informal recycling behavior in the Kathmandu valley in Nepal. The informal recycling, the only recycling viii method practiced in the Kathmandu Valley, is represented by households selling the recyclable waste to the scrapdealers. According to the results, people who generate more waste are also more likely to recycle. People who use vegetable garden and practice composting are significantly more likely to recycle. For example, people who compost are 11.8 to 12.8 percent more likely to recycle in comparison to those who do not. Based on this finding, municipalities can promote household recycling as a complementary offer with the existing offer of the subsidized composting bins. Also, urban gardening can be an important policy implication to promote recycling. Due to having a flat fee for waste collection in the Kathmandu Valley, increase or decrease in fee does not have any impact on recycling. The existing institutional regulation to avoid haphazard waste disposal not only helps to avoid haphazard waste disposal but also increases recycling by 7.8 to 9.5 percent. This study provides important findings that helps to increase recycling and achieve sustainable waste management. Overall, the policy recommendations from three papers compliment to improve solid waste management, reduce air pollution and promote recycling together.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Economics

First Advisor

Bohara, Alok

Second Advisor

Thacher, Jennifer

First Committee Member (Chair)

Santos, Richard

Second Committee Member

Bhattarai, Keshav

Third Committee Member





Solid Waste Management, Recycling and Air pollution

Document Type


Included in

Economics Commons