By Ravi Kumar
Years later, when I was in college in the U.S., I wanted to look up data on Nepal to write research papers or to tell my friends about my home country. There were existing resources with data but often it was incomplete, or would only include national averages. I was not able to find out how many people lived in each district, for example.
The data must have existed somewhere, as Nepal has been conducting censuses for at least a century, starting in 1911. But it’s only been with the rise of the Internet that data has been, in theory, more widely available. However, most of the Nepal census data online today is still locked in PDF format, making it inconvenient for users to analyze and share. We wanted to change that.
In 2014, my wife and I co-founded Code for Nepal, a non-profit to increase digital literacy and the use of open data in Nepal. This month, Code for Nepal is excited to launch the beta version of www.nepalmap.org, a web app that puts data about Nepal at your fingertips!
NepalMap helps users to find and understand data on Nepal easily, and will be useful to anyone who seeks to learn more about Nepal via data.
Whether you live in Morang or Mahottari, you can use NepalMap to find out how many people in your district have passed School Leaving Certificate (SLC), or how many people still use wood to cook food.
You can compare two districts and find out which one has a higher life expectancy or more toilets. Very soon, Village Development Committee data will be available too.
Journalists, researchers, and students will find NepalMap to be one of their best friends as they are looking for data. Entrepreneurs and businesses can better understand an area in which they are looking to do business by using NepalMap. Anyone can embed charts from NepalMap on their websites or download the data for their own use.
Building a tool is just the first step. I believe for us to better understand our challenges, we have to have an evidence-based conversation. I hope all of us can use an app like NepalMap to explore and understand Nepal better.
NepalMap would not have been possible without the generosity of many people. It is based on Wazimap, which is based on Census Reporter. At Code for Nepal, we are especially grateful to Clifton McIntosh, for serving as the lead developer for NepalMap. Amit Chaudhary and other Code for Nepal volunteers along with Cliffton, continue to work to make NepalMap better.
Next time someone asks you how they can look for data on Nepal, I hope you will refer them to NepalMap.org. Had I and my parents had NepalMap, when I was a kid, it would have helped me to better understand where I came from. Better late than never. Onward.
Ravi is a Co-founder of Code for Nepal. He has a MS degree from Columbia University where he specialized in digital media.