The Government of Nepal (GoN) recently hosted the AidData team on our first geocoding launch trip as part of the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN). We’re writing to update on some exciting developments underway in Nepal that are quickly taking AidData’s work to a broader audience of government officials, donors, and concerned citizens.
The GoN has been operating an Aid Management Platform (AMP) since 2010 with admirable results. AMP Nepal currently has information on nearly 700 development projects (both on- and off-budget) representing over $US 6 billion in disbursements, including over $1 billion in fiscal year 2012 alone. GoN officials use AMP for internal reporting, district-level aid analysis, and an annual public Development Cooperation Report, among other things. In 2012, with the support of AusAID, AidData geocoded over half of the AMP project portfolio. All remaining AMP projects will be geocoded in 2013 under the USAID HESN award.
GoN staff are eager to put this new geo-coded aid data to work. The AidData team conducted a first-ever training on geocoding and the AMP GIS module for 17 Ministry of Finance staff. Attendees were exposed to geocoding projects and creating their own visualizations. Future trainings will include more hands-on practice, and will be expanded to include development partners and civil society.
On one occasion, a line ministry under-secretary commented that aid project maps would expose gaps in service delivery and issues with aid fragmentation, highlighting the acute needs that AidData hopes to address with data and visualization.
In a move intended to further leverage the impact of AMP and geospatial data, GoN will soon make AMP fully public via an online Ministry of Finance portal. The public AMP will allow any user to view AMP data, download reports, and use analytical tools (including the GIS mapping tool). With this portal, GoN hopes that more stakeholders – including local government officials, more development partners, civil society organizations, media, and even concerned citizens – will use AMP data to further the aid effectiveness agenda in Nepal. The public launch is slated for May 2013 (formal dates and venues will be announced shortly).
To ensure that development stakeholders in Nepal are eager and able to use the public AMP data, the AidData team also worked to build a strong network of local partners in Nepal, including universities, think tanks, advocacy groups, civil society organizations, and non-governmental organizations. We will continue to engage with this network through trainings and collaborative work to effectively leverage geocoded information to analyze and implement development projects in Nepal. Coupling strong government relationships with new stakeholder outreach efforts will ensure that aid data are used to improve development planning in Nepal for the long term.
In sum, the successful launch of HESN work in Nepal bodes well for AidData’s similar work in 15 countries over the next 5 years. Government, donors, and civil society are all eager for visualized information on aid activities. We are excited and confident that good development data, made public, will have significant impacts for the development community in Nepal and around the world.