A data revolution in Nepal – starting the conversation

The international community is abuzz with talk of a ‘data revolution for sustainable development’. But what does ‘data revolution’ mean when approached from a national and sub-national perspective? How can we ensure that the attention being given at the international level is translated into effective and appropriate action at country-level? What tools do we need in place to allow people to gain access to and use data? And how can civil society work together to ensure that a data revolution benefits the masses rather than widening Nepal’s social and economic inequality?

These are the questions we asked in Nepal last week through a series of events hosted by the Open Nepal partnership.

Three key events were held during the week:

High-level Data Revolution Roundtable

Open Nepal convened a group of high-level representatives from government agencies (including the Central Bureau of Statistics, National Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance), multilateral institutions, private sector and civil society, to start a conversation on what data revolution means for Nepal. The discussion highlighted a range of challenges experienced in the sharing and use of data in Nepal and delivered a strong vision of a potential data revolution in Nepal to deliver better production, sharing and use of data and information. Participants recognised that for an inclusive information system to emerge from a data revolution, it needs collective action from government, parliamentarians, donors, international NGOs, civil society, academia and the media. See a summary of the event.

A Data Revolution for Sustainable Development: convening Nepal’s open development community

Through its network, Open Nepal has identified an active group of initiatives working to improve development efforts through increased access to and use of information. This event brought these civil society groups together to discuss the challenges – for example, a lack of incentives to share data and poor data quality preventing use – and potential solutions that might deliver a data revolution. The Central Bureau of Statistics joined the event to present its new National Statistics Development Strategy, due to guide the generation and dissemination of official data in Nepal, and share the implications of this strategy for data producers and users.

A consultation on the d-portal

Bringing together users of development finance information from civil society and media, this consultation introduced the new d-portal – a country-based information platform that tracks resource flows and assists with the planning and monitoring of development activities. Participants interacted with and explored International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data, providing feedback to inform the future evolution of the portal. The event stimulated discussion about the reporting of development finance information, and why some donors lack transparency, as well as the need for improved data quality to allow useful analysis of financial resource flows.

Exploring IATI data through the d-portal: a country-based information platform that tracks resource flows

Open Nepal and the data revolution

Open Nepal is an initiative to promote more effective development through the increased use of data and information. The partnership, currently formed of four organisations (Freedom Forum, NGO Federation of Nepal, Young Innovations and Development Initiatives) aims to catalyse a revolution in data sharing and use – building an inclusive information system in Nepal, supported by a dynamic community of stakeholders.

The conversations initiated by these events will continue over the coming months, and the lessons learned will be shared within Nepal to ensure that the international data revolution brings positive change at a national and local level. Moreover to make sure efforts taking place as part of a national data revolution action plan are designed and applied in a way that meets the needs of Nepal.