It has been over two years since the Open Nepal initiative embarked on a journey to promote more effective development through the increased use of data and information in Nepal. Since June 2013 we have been working to catalyze progress towards data sharing and use through our efforts to build an inclusive information system supported by a dynamic community of stakeholders. Globally and in other countries our efforts are mirrored by an increased momentum around the so-called Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.
Five months after the earthquake have the needs of the people who were affected been met, and if not what are their current problems? To help us answer these questions, we can turn to data. Fortunately, data on citizen perceptions has been collected twice over the past few months by Ground Truth Solutions, Local Interventions Group and Accountability Labs. This data allows the humanitarian community to make basic analysis on citizens’ perceptions of their changing needs over time following the earthquake.
Last week, the 'Sustainable Development Goals' (SDGs) were formally adopted at a global summit convened by the United Nations Headquarters in New York. These are a new set of global development goals that aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities and injustice, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030. The SDGs are the new avatar of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which promise to follow up on the incomplete targets of the MDGs and achieve other, more ambitious, goals.
This is the second in a series of blogs about the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in the Asia Pacific Region- the central topic around which a multi-stakeholder discourse took place in Manila in early September. The first blog talked about how OGP can be a vehicle for transforming the way the government works and highlighted a few country cases where different segments of society have contributed in doing so for the shared prosperity of the nation.
"Open government is a listening government, listening and wanting to do what citizens are demanding". This was the opening line of the welcome remarks given by the Open Government Partnership (OGP) steering committee member, Sugen Bahagijo, at the OGP Asia Pacific Regional Meeting recently held in Manila, Philippines.
So what really enhances government's responsiveness to citizens?
Data sits at the heart of informed decision making and is a key ingredient for governance and accountability. Getting the 'Right information to the right people at the right time' offers governments, law makers, civil societies, businesses and citizens unprecedented opportunities to make evidence-based decisions for more effective and sustainable development.
There is currently very little “open government data” in Nepal. Open Government Data is data produced or commissioned by government that is made publically available in open format (e.g. csv) for free use and redistribution. Key open government datasets in Nepal remain in closed formats, including government budget and expenditure, and key national statistical data such as the census. This website shows how Nepal compares against other countries in terms of the openness of government data – we fall behind both India and China in our ranking.
The Nepal earthquake not only shook up the ground, but also the people's lives, homes, our infrastructure and our economy. As streams of humanitarian aid flow to Nepal from all over the world, a key question being asked among the population is “where is this money going?”
Citizen Surveys as a basis for informed decision making
A recent community feedback survey funded by UNDP and conducted by Accountability Labs, Local Interventions Group and Ground Truth Solutions has provided numerous insights into the problems facing citizens affected by the earthquake.