Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
By Suman Parajuli and Suresh Chand, Accountability Lab Nepal
“Whenever an idea pops into my mind, I can talk to people, I can discuss how we can collectively reach goals and, most significantly, I have a group of willing individuals on hand to immediately assist me. I get all these privileges within one building, the same room even.” Pavitra Rana, Coordinator at Open Nepal, reflected recently on the immediacy and positive work environment created by the OpenGov Hub Nepal in Kathmandu. Pavitra continues, “it is always good to have like-minded people around; it fosters hope and collective energy within the workplace.”
It has been fantastic to see the OpenGov Hub come to life in Nepal over the past six months since it was proudly launched on June 1st, 2014 in Baluwatar, Kathmandu. The OpenGov Hub Nepal currently includes five organizations - Accountability Lab, Development Gateway, Kathmandu Living Labs, Local Interventions Group and Open Nepal - with many others using the space to share ideas, tools and resources on a regular basis, including the Citizens Campaign for the Right to Information and GalliGalli.
Unlike in the US, the idea of shared space with collective goals, partnerships and action is still relatively foreign in Nepal and even in South Asia more broadly and too often, NGOs in Nepal are criticized for their lack of coordination and duplication of work which undermines the credibility of civil society. But with the OpenGov Hub Nepal, we’re changing all that. We're showing that things can be done differently. The strength of the OpenGov Hub in Kathmandu resides in its functionality as a multi-dimensional community. By hosting organizations that span the fields of technology, access to information, advocacy, civic education and drama, the OpenGov Hub Nepal is uniquely positioned to catalyze change. At the same time, our collective relationships with government mean that we can push for the kinds of system reform we’d like to see to make our country a more open, fair and equal place.
We’ve been very busy with a number of events at the OpenGov Hub Nepal since our June 2014 launch. For example, we run a movie club for accountability related movies produced by young people (read more about “Young Cuts! the Accountability Film School” here), and we also hosted regular lunchtime events on everything from the sustainability of social enterprises to the importance of women’s rights (in conjunction with Anita Thapa and her organization Sambhawana). In addition to our event series, we've also hosted governmental and civil society guests from across the region.
The OpenGov Hub Nepal has also been a point of contact for international foundations and donors; Humanity United, for example, has agreed that the OpenGov Hub Nepal will act as their facilitation partner in Nepal for 2015. Organizations including the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the US Embassy, and the Embassy of Denmark have also indicated their interest in collaborating with the OpenGov Hub Nepal. This year, above all, we are looking forward to making the space a center of excellence for creative ideas and collaborative partnerships on issues of open government and accountability.
Are you ready to get involved!? Get in touch today.
Suman Parajuli and Suresh Chand support Accountability Lab’s programs in Nepal and are leading the development of the OpenGov Hub Nepal in Kathmandu along with Narayan Adhikari.