In 2012, one in eight of the world’s population lives in slums. According to UN figures, it is expected that over 900 million people will live in slums by 2020, and over a billion by 2037. This makes this way of life the most growing in urban areas in the world. In Nepal´s capital, Kathmandu, slums have emerged in large numbers over a forty year period. In search of a safer and economically better life, many people have migrated from rural areas to the most urban parts of the Kathmandu Valley. Very few people have the economy to purchase a housing, therefore many choose to establish communities on unused state property.

Tirtha Gopal Shrestha (29) and Sanita Rai (19) live in Buddhamarga Tol, one of the oldest and well-functioning slums of the city. The small community lies along the Bagmati river which runs through Kathmandu. Tirtha shares a little, green house with his ​​parents and elder sister. He supports his family by working as a mechanic at his uncle’s metal workshop, and enjoys hanging out with friends in his spare time.
– I love my life in the community. My family and friends are always around, why would I want to move somewhere else, says Tirtha.

Sanita also lives with her parents and has a five year old daughter, Sayon. Living as a single mother, Sanita is trying to finish school and is also training to become a beautician.
– As much as I like living here, I some day hope I will be able to live and work in a country in the Golf-region. I will never have a stable economy by living in Nepal, says Sanita.

On May 8th 2012 the Nepalese government started evicting a number of slum communities in Kathmandu. This action is a part of the governments desire to develope the populated land into public parks. To date, Tirtha and Sanita´s homes and the rest of Buddhamarga Tol has yet to be demolished. Tomorrow they might not have a home.


Story by Benjamin A. Ward