Tag: Code for Nepal

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Diversity and Enthusiasm: My take on Digital Nepal Conference,…

As we know, things are pretty unpredictable in Nepal. Right before the Digital Nepal Conference – Janakpur, because of unfortunate and tragic events, a strike was announced. After monitoring the situation closely, talking to people, and considering the high demand from youths in the region, Code for Nepal decided that it would be OK to go forward with the conference.

I had only been to Janakpur once as a child many years ago. As someone who had not really explored the southern parts of the country, I decided to go to Janakpur despite the challenges of the strike. Frankly, my friend, Avinash, and I were both a bit nervous. However, we were also very excited.

We decided to fly on March 8. I almost did not make it to the airport on time because of heavy traffic on the road in Kathmandu. After all the hassle, when we landed safely in Janakpur, Ravi and the Code for Nepal team were there to greet us at the airport. It was so reassuring to see familiar faces. Half of the passengers who traveled on that plane were attending the conference. Isn’t that amazing?

From the airport, we took a Tuk Tuk. It was my first time riding a Tuk Tuk. On the way to the hotel, I realized how clean and beautiful Janakpur had become (Ravi says the town used to be cleaner when he was growing up there). Most importantly, the weather was perfect. Later that day, we also visited Janaki Mandir and surrounding ponds. Janakpur is such a religious and historical town. People are friendly.

That evening, there was a journalism workshop for local journalists of Janakpur. It was a normal kind of workshop, similar to ones I used to see more frequently while attending events in Kathmandu. The workshop was facilitated by Dietrich Ayala, David and Ravi Kumar Nepal, where participants learned about using technology for storytelling. But it was when the team of Accountability Lab started the discussion about Open Government, that I saw the enthusiasm of participants. They openly discussed how the concept of Open Government can be helpful for all Nepalese citizens. Some also shared problems that they are facing, which can only be solved by governments.

Since there was a strike that day, there was nothing much to expect. But thanks to Pratap Adhikari from Association of Youth Organizations Nepal (AYON) who made our night awesome. He took us on a Janakpur tour, during which we visited almost all the important temples and ponds of Janakpur. We also enjoyed watching puja happening at Ganga Sagar, and more importantly, enjoying the taste of Janakpur lassi was an awesome feeling.

On the 2nd day of the conference, I joined Alisha Chettri from the Women Development Advocacy Center at the registration desk. This gave me a chance to understand how diverse the conference was going to be. Yes, diverse – which is hard to see in Kathmandu-based events. Young students, housewives, shopkeepers, journalists and community leaders were there to attend the conference. Female participants were also in a good number.

The conference started and as usual, I started snapping photos to post them on our social media account, which I believe is one of the best ways to do documentation of an event. Taking photos, listening to speakers and going Facebook Live sometimes, I was enjoying it. However, I found it interesting when participants started asking questions to presenters. This showed how enthusiastic they were. They were engaged in all presentations and panel discussions. Asking questions, sharing their views, interactions were from both sides. After all the presentations and panel discussions, a token of love was given to each presenter, and t-shirts were given to all participants. Some left the venue and the rest of us went for a group photo. Ohh, group photo and my selfie 😛

After the conference ended, we caught up with Pratap Adhikari again and went to taste Janakpur fish. Don’t know whether I should be saying it or not, but that evening I came to know that strong beer is found only in Terai districts. After enjoying the fish, we went for dinner where Ravi gave us a treat, and I must say that the food was amazing. Later that night, Dietrich and I enjoyed an omelet of a duck egg also.

I must say that my three-day-visit of Janakpur was awesome, and this time my experience was different. My contribution at Digital Nepal Conference was limited, but the conference gave me an opportunity to enjoy and interact with nice people of Janakpur. Hope this kind of event will be organized outside of the valley more frequently.

Nepal

Technology meets government: Digital Governance Hackathon being organized on…

Today was an exciting day because I got a chance to discuss the vision for a Digital Governance Hackathon being organized in Kathmandu on Feb 11-12.

As a member of Open Knowledge Nepal and representative of Code for Nepal, it was pretty interesting to meet the people behind the event and discuss ways to make the event successful.

As it turns out, the event is going to be one of the biggest hackathons in recent times in Nepal. But the real difference I found was that the event has a clear vision to sustain ongoing projects rather than start new ones. I’ve seen and started a lot of projects around open data and open governance in the last few years, and I know from experience that it is almost always easier and productive to support than start.

I had a good discussion over coffee with Punit Jajodia, founder of programiz.com. He is supporting the event by finding the best developers in Nepal to work on projects which span different verticals like Civic Engagement, Digital Accessibility, Journalism, Education and Financial Technology.

American Embassy, Hello Sarkar Nepal, National Federation of Disabled-Nepal(NFD-N), Federation of Nepali Journalists(FNJ), MaxConnect, chakrapath.com, Code For Nepal and Programiz are supporting the event and it will be interesting to see if the hackathon is able to make an impact on the digital governance scenario in Nepal.

AskNepal

Amateur Nikesh, Amateur Journey: Looking Back 2016

Reflection is something that makes you emotional, at some point, you enjoy the taste of success and at some point, you almost cry remembering the journey you travel. Memories of old new friends make you feel sad and the enthusiasm of making your future bright push you harder to move forward. The year 2016 was one of the confused years for me, where I struggle to make a big decision, in the beginning, lost my Grandfather, planned something and did something else!! Here are some Ups and Downs of my journey of the year 2016, Where enthusiasm of junior was stronger than the pressure of senior, where people criticize me for my childish behaviors and at the same time some people support my never giving up attitude.

1) Joining Acme once again

A confused year and a totally confused decision made in 2015 and realized in 2016. Gaps, Bachelor Degree, Future, Friends and much more. Was Engineering my right decision, I doubt so but I am still confused. Let’s see how long I can go!!

2) Launching Nepal Open Data Index

The work of 2015 but was launched in January 2016, the result of crowdsourced open data survey done in 10 different districts of Nepal, which helps us to understand the condition of open data and technology in the local cities of Nepal.

3) Organizing International Open Data Day 2016

Officially the first event of the year, Yes once again we organize International Open Data Day in Kathmandu. This year we organize Datathon, where we collect the information of different Public Bodies of Nepal. Thanks go to awesome teams, supporters and well-wishers, with limited resources and time, we did something great that day.

4) Loosing Grandfather started drinking alcohol

One of the moments of 2016, which I never wanted to remember, yes never. Maybe that’s the reason why I started drinking alcohol, to forget that pain and memories. The pain of losing grandfather, the pain of being alone.

5) FOSS Nepal PoC and celebrating Software Freedom Day 2016

Working to shape the FOSS Nepal Community structure was another thing where I worked hard by bringing the concept of FOSS Nepal Person of Contact (PoC) but was unsuccessful at the end. Yes or Maybe, I don’t know but the Software Freedom Day 2016 celebration was a huge success. The preparation was good and execution was perfect, Kudos to the team, those new faces, and their enthusiasm. Ohh Gosh, I love them and miss them, they were awesome.

6) Working on Open Data Handbook Nepali Version

One of the 75% completed core project of Open Knowledge Nepal, where we work hard for translation, which isn’t really that much good but we did it. I personally work lots in writing so that we can do fundraising for that project, let’s see, we plan to launch that project in 2017 since the review of the handbook is still left.

7) Virtually marking Open Access Week 2016

For the third time in a row, I decided to mark the Nepal presence in Open Access Week. Since Open Access Week falls in festival season, it’s always challenging to celebrate it through physical events, my previous experience of organizing it says. But this year the plan was something different, We did QA with some know and active Open Access Activist of Nepal so we can gather the info about is the current situation and share it with others.

8) Joining Code for Nepal as AskNepal Initiative lead

I was always the secret well-wishers of Code for Nepal, the things which they are doing or trying to do is really awesome. In October 2016, I decided to join them as an AskNepal Lead. A project which I think is very impactful in the context of Nepal.

9) Receiving Shuttleworth Flash Grant

The highlight of the 2016 end, being nominated by the Founder of Open Knowledge Internation for Shuttleworth Flash Grant to recognize my contribution in the field of Open Knowledge and Data in Nepal. I was one of the grantees of Flash Grant.

10) Structuring Open Knowledge Nepal

Last planning of 2016 and first work in To-Do list of 2017, giving right structure to the work and projects of Open Knowledge Nepal. Lots of works are already done, planning is in the right stage, let’s see how well we can execute it in the year 2017.

2017 I am ready for you, Come on!!

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Thanks Shuttleworth Foundation for Shuttleworth Flash Grant

Good news never knocks the door, they just come in and surprise you. October 2016 was one of the awesome months for me, where good news keeps entering my room. October – a month full of festivals and holidays for most of the Nepalese, but for me, it was a month full of scheduled works and meetings. Where I make some important decision like applying for Accountability Lab Incubator and leading Code for Nepal project AskNepal initiative. But more importantly getting chosen as an South Asia coordinator for Global Open Data Index 2016 and being nominated for Shuttleworth Flash Grant 2016, was an highlighted news of an month which will be written in Bold letter but it shadowed some of my other achievement like receiving Statement of Accomplishment from Stanford Online and Open University, OpenLearn for completing MOOC. The updates of Open Access Week 2016 and Nepal Open Data Index 2016 also nearly got shadowed in front of that big news.

One of the news which was unplanned and amazed me was being nominated for Shuttleworth Flash Grant. I would like to thank all the team of Shuttleworth Foundation, special thanks to Rufus Pollock for nominating me and Prakash Neupane for mentoring plus helping me to move forward in this Open Knowledge Field. This fund will definitely play a huge role in my and Open Knowledge Nepal future.

I will be utilizing this fund to carve the future of Open Knowledge in Nepal. Most of the percent of this fund will be utilized for the development and deployment of Open Knowledge Nepal important project MyLocalBudgets and Open Data Handbook Nepali version.

MyLocalBudgets is a portal run by the team of Open Knowledge Nepal which tracks down Nepal Government data related to the financial transaction like budgets, spending, balance sheets, procurement etc and publish them in an interactively visualized way, which are easily understandable, customizable and usable from anywhere without any kinds of restriction.

Open Data Handbook Nepali version is the localization of Global Open Data Handbook. The Nepali version of this handbook will include content from Global Open Data Handbook, including Licensing terms from Open Definition. We believe this Open Data Handbook Nepali Version will help Government policy makers, leaders, and common citizens to understand about Data in their Native language easily and CSO can take their awareness program in next level by using the resources.

 

shuttleworth-funded

 

I am pretty sure this project will help us to improve the condition and understanding of Open Data and Open Budgets in Nepal. But, we still have a long way to travel and the plan is to keep traveling. At the end, I would like to thanks, everyone who was part of this journey directly and indirectly.

AskNepal

Rebooting AskNepal initiative

October 17th, 2016 – A day when I messaged Mr. Ravi Kumar Nepal, Co-founder of Code For Nepal showing my interest in leading and contributing AskNepal initiative and within a day my meeting was fixed with him for October 22nd, 2016 where we discuss the different possible ways of my engagement. Today right after one week of that meeting, here I am writing this post with the possible Project Plan, Admin Access, Project Lead tag. Unbelievable, Isn’t it a super fast way of joining a community. Yes, it is and thanks to Ravi and team for accepting me as a C4N family.

So, What are the possible next steps and how we are doing it?

Like every others project, AskNepal initiative also needs multi-stakeholders, supporters, collaborators to make a greater impact and easy outreach. So, our next step is to search for possible organizations and civil society organization (CSO) who can help us. Our initial discussion with some RTI Activist of Nepal had found that there is more than 10 organization working all around Nepal for the betterment of Right to Information Act with greater implementation and impact. At first stage, we will be starting this discussion with two organization of Nepal, Citizens’ Campaign for Right to Information (CCRI) and Freedom Forum because this organization has great experience of working in RTI field and human resources who believes in technological solution. We will keep searching others possible organization. We want these kinds of CSO, who understand technology to be our collaborators because AskNepal initiative is all about increasing citizen’s reach of Access to Information through the use of technology.

We will be taking feedback and suggestion from this two organization (CCRI Nepal and Freedom Forum) regarding site customization so, that we can make it more user-friendly because the current version of the site is the replicate of the global initiative https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/. Where you choose the public authority that you would like information from, then write a brief note describing what you want to know. Then we will play the intermediary role where we will send your request to the respective public authority or officer. Any response received is automatically published on the website for you and anyone else to find and read.

But we plan to localize the site according to the local context and needs to increase our chances of reaching local citizens from all around the country. We will implement and try all kinds of suggestion regarding site customization because, at the end of the day, all we want is to make the site user-friendly.

After making site perfect, our next step is to discuss initiative with a government organization in search of help. For this, we will follow Top-Down approach and will directly start from National Information Commission (NIC) because when it comes to working with government, Bottom-Up approach never works and I personally have a good experience about this. We also believe our chances of getting positive responses from government officials is high and after getting linked with government and CSO, the project outreach is just a matter of time.

Last but not the least, the site is still empty, what about data, where are the list of public authorities?

The answers are clear and simple, we will search and crowdsourced it. National Information Technology Center (NITC) already have this data because all the (.gov.np) domain are control and maintained by them. We will ask those data with them by using RTI Act and the ongoing project of Open Knowledge Nepal, PublicBodies Nepal can be another possible source of data.

The outreach and frequent maintenance of site will be done by the team of Code for Nepal and Open Knowledge Nepal. More importantly, If the initiative got selected for Accountability Lab Incubator, all the implementation of this plan is going to be easier.

Want to join or support AskNepal initiative, contact project lead Nikesh Balami (nikesh@codefornepal.org)