March 3rd marked Open Data Day, a global event that celebrates and encourages open data policies. Open data can help communities better understand and freely use information to better serve their needs. March also marks the launch of the first open data government in Nepal. With the plugging-in of the computers, television screens and internet routers that make up the Techno-hub, the municipality of Sanfebagar has become the first municipality in Nepal to provide open data about council decisions, budget allocations and other information that can be used by citizens.
The project, Sustainable use of Technology for Public Sector Accountability in Nepal (also called Susasan), will establish 24 Techno-hubs in 2 provinces in the next year. Techno-Hubs will serve as stations where data can be accessed, and dedicated websites will allow access using a computer or portable device from anywhere.
The idea is simple: provide information on the workings and decisions of the government, provide training and support to community groups on interpreting and using data for advocacy, and in the end, increase policymakers’ accountability to citizens. The project operates both on the demand side, empowering citizens’ groups, and on the supply side, helping train government workers and policy makers in the use of open data technology.
The project focuses on working specifically with community groups representing women and marginalized groups, such as Dalit and single mother households. By learning to understand the data on budget allocations and spending, community groups are able to advocate that their needs be addressed using relevant and up-to- date data.
For more information on the launch, check out this blog post from a local partner, Young Innovations. Check out the project website at susasan.org.