Nepal in adaptation of DEGURBA approach in defining applying global definition of urban areas

Background: DEGURBA for production of comparable urban data

Historically, countries have used different criteria to define urban areas and cities which has made it difficult to compare urban performance – both within the same country and across countries. To produce comparable urban data in reporting indicators of SDGs and NUA, a commitment was formed under whose umbrella, UN-Habitat, the European Commission, FAO, OECD, and the World Bank have undertaken several activities to create a globally harmonized and agreeable approach, for which the 51st UN Statistical Commission meeting (March 2020) endorsed DEGURBA as a sound approach to defining urban and rural areas for statistical comparisons. These efforts have sought after a method that complements, rather than replaces existing national definitions, and one that would be easily applicable across contexts.  To response to the request of member countries and recommendation from the UNSC, UN-Habitat and the European Commission, in coordination with other partners involved in the urban-rural areas definitions harmonization process developed the project titled “Application of the DEGURBA approach to generate comparable urban data in selected countries”.


The project, which will be implemented in 13 countries between September 2021 and June 2023 has a goal of strengthening the capacity of national governments to adopt and integrate the DEGURBA approach into their data management structures.

DEGURBA project in Nepal

Nepal is one of the 13 countries where DEGURBA will be piloted. The project is expected to Enhance institutional and technical capacity among National Statistical Office (CBS) to effectively use and apply the DEGURBA approach to produce urban data and report on SDG 11/NUA indicators, Strengthen institutional capacity to effectively apply the DEGURBA approach and other emerging GIS methods to collect and analyze and interpret spatial data related to SDG 11 indicators and Increase ability to report on urban SDGs at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) with accurate and reliable data based on the DEGURBA approach.

Project component

  • Identification of stakeholders to participate in the General introduction workshop and the first technical workshop
  • Pre-workshop activities (preparation of needed country datasets by NSO local actors’ selection, etc.)
  • Formation of Technical Working Group
  • Generic introductory workshop – introduction to DEGURBA for all relevant technical and policy actors within the country
  • Technical in-person advisory workshops
  • 1st workshop focused on application of DEGURBA using data at highest resolution from CBS
  • Applying the DEGURBA tool in all regions and continuous virtual support
  • Validation and field verification of indicators
  • 2nd workshop focused on SDG 11 indicators computations using delineated boundaries
  • Continuous virtual support –with technical teams on a-need-basis
  • Documentation of process and lessons

Ongoing Piloting of DEGURBA

The project was launched on 12th July, 2022 through an Introductory Workshop to DEGURBA with participation of wider stakeholder and policy actors in Nepal. The program was followed by the 1st technical workshop held in Dhulikhel from 13th-15th July, 2022, with active participation of stakeholder like Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the National Planning Commission, the Ministry of Urban Development, Department of Survey, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, Municipal Association of Nepal, Regional Urban Planners’ Society of Nepal, Tribhuwan University, and Kathmandu University. The data from CBS was used with integration of DEGURBA approach of population grid, degree of urbanization and Territorial Units classifier tools in GIS. The workshop provided a base for multistakeholder technical committee formation, integration of available data into the system and way forward toward the 2nd workshop that will focus on SDG indicators computation using delineated boundaries. The workshop will be followed by continuous virtual support and documentation process. The project is expected to end in June 2023 in Nepal.

Relevant Links

Nepal joins UN-Habitat and European Commission initiative on applying global definition of urban areas

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