Kathmandu, March 23, 2018 – Freedom Forum and The Asia Foundation jointly brought together participants from government, civil society, media and development agencies for a one-day workshop on March 23 on the right to information and open government data in federal Nepal. Opened by the Chief Information Commissioner, Mr. Krishna Hari Baskota, the workshop aimed to increase participants’ understanding of the implications of Nepal’s federal structure on the right to information and open government data. It also aimed to increase awareness about the initiatives of various non-government actors working on the right to information and open government data at local, provincial and federal government tiers in order to help identify synergies and possible areas of collaboration. The workshop was organized under the “Data for Development in Nepal” Program, a project implemented by The Asia Foundation in partnership with Development Initiatives with funding from the UK Government’s Department for International Development.
Following the adoption of the 2015 Constitution and the successful completion of the three-tier elections, Nepal has been undergoing a process of transition to a Federal State. The Constitution and the Right to Information Act adopted in 2007 guarantees the right of citizens to seek and receive information regarding themselves and on any matter of public importance. In addition, the Act and Right to Information Rules adopted in 2009 require bodies to proactively disclose 20 different types of information, including essential information about government agencies, their functions, services, and decision-making processes and share information about its activities every three month in open data format through any medium. In the context of federal Nepal, access to reliable and timely information will be critical for citizens to participate effectively in local-level decision-making and to hold their locally elected leaders to account.
In addition to information, access to accurate data in open formats is crucial for citizens, media, and civil society organizations to track local development progress and to support provincial and local governments in making evidence-based decisions on planning and resource allocations. Once adopted and implemented, the Open Government Data Action Plan submitted last year by the National Information Commission to the Prime Minister’s Office will be an important instrument to make data more openly and easily available to the general public and key decision-makers across all spheres of Nepal.
Ms. Tirza Theunissen of The Asia Foundation said, “For federalism to provide the promised opportunity for citizens to engage more closely with government it is critical that the right to information and open government data are promoted and implemented at all tiers of government”. Mr. Taranath Dahal, Executive Chief of Freedom Forum, said, “This workshop is an important opportunity to understand government commitments to transparency and co-develop ideas that can support in the delivery of this transparency”.
At the workshop, participants discussed the various challenges and opportunities that exist to promote the right to information and open government data. Following presentations by the National Information Commission, the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Prime Minister’s Office, a panel discussion was held during which participants could ask questions to the presenters, and representatives of various civil society organizations presented on their initiatives to make central and local-level information and data available. In the afternoon, participants formed working groups to brainstorm ideas for promoting the right to information and open government data, addressing local-level information and data gaps and developing strategies to enhance information mechanism and data literacy and build capacity to use data. Each group presented their group work and participants provided feedback. These ideas will be used to inform the efforts of the Data for Development Program and Freedom Forum to further promote the right to information and open government data at local, provincial and federal levels.
For further information please contact:
•Tirza Theunissen, Program Co-Manager Data for Development Program, The Asia Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org
•Taranath Dahal, Executive Chief, Freedom Forum, email@example.com