Thursday, April 18, 2013

Open Data Nepal

Gilbert Sendugwa and Bibhusan Bista
We first met Bibhusan Bista from YoungInnovations, Nepal, at the training workshop for the World Bank Institute’s Social Reporting for Procurement programme. Bibhusan is also a central figure in the burgeoning Open Data scene in Nepal. I interviewed him about Open Nepal in Kathmandu last week, late at night in a hotel – which is why this is probably the worst quality video we’ve ever published! Open Nepal is the latest in a series of recent initiatives from a group of organisations including Freedom Forum, NGO Federation of Nepal, Young Innovations and the aidinfo programme at Development Initiatives. It is focused on ‘catalysing and supporting an ecosystem around transparency and access to Information’.

Nepal was the second country in South Asia to have a Right to Information Act, which was guaranteed in the new Constitution in 1990 and by an act of Parliament in 2007, although implementation has so far been limited. YoungInnovations and their collaborators aim at ‘translating the impact of international initiatives like International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), Open Government Partnership and other similar ones in Nepalese context'.

Bibhusan and YoungInnovations were involved in an early Nepal country study by Aid Info. An indicator of how the scene is developing since then comes from the success of their recent Hackathon, organised to coincide with a worldwide series of Hackathons, and described here in an AidInfo blog. Developers experimented with data exposed on Open Nepal, producing simple but effective applications such as this one comparing fuel prices in India and Nepal - addressing a hot issue locally.

The group, along with the World Bank and other partners are developing a programme of Open Data activities in June this year, which we will report on when details are available.