Rebuilding community to work on climate and environment data

Events | MARCH 14 2021

The event summary of this blog post was written by Dikpal Khatri Chhetry.

Being a community-driven organization, the COVID-19 pandemic was a nightmare for Open Knowledge Nepal. Like many organizations around the world, we went through the difficult phase; struggling to find new projects and sustaining existing ones. More importantly, we missed reaching out to people in-person, advocating open data, building communities, and enhancing their data and digital skills. Maybe because of that, we were desperate to restart our training & capacity building work, and International Open Data Day 2021, brought the opportunity to our organization’s doorstep; giving us a chance to be involved in three Open Data Day celebrations, organized in various places of Nepal.

We organized a Datathon in Tulsipur, Dang supported by Data for Development (D4D) in Nepal Program, Open Data and Digital literacy training at Simta, Surkhet in coordination with Women in STEAM and DataDive Kathmandu supported by Open Knowledge Foundation mini-grant scheme.

DataDive was our first in-person event at Kathmandu valley after a long pandemic break, where we invited a few teams of volunteer data scientists, developers, and designers to explore the key climate and environment data sources of Nepal. It was a fun and refreshing gathering of community members because the pandemic has made us realize the importance of real-time data and community collaboration; giving us enough to reflect on our past priorities.

Event Summary

12 people attended the DataDive and everyone aimed to make the best utilization of the available data to generate more user case stories and encourage others to publish the data. Nikesh Balami, CEO/co-founder of Open Knowledge Nepal started the event by welcoming all the individuals and oriented on the tentative goal of the gathering. He mainly highlighted the core values of coming together as a community, and in the process contribute to the common goal. The gathering was more of an informal collaborative forum, and it was rightly highlighted by Arogya Koirala from Kathmandu Living Labs. He opined the need for developing a peer learning and collaborative open community rather than a top-down approach of coaching the participants. It was interesting to note, how all participants passively agreed to the notion of more informal, open peer-based learning in community settings.

After the introduction session, the event free flowed. Everyone worked on what best fits the goal of the event, as per their expertise and through collaboration. Some of the works included:

  • Solving bugs in the ‘Open Data Nepal’ portal.
  • Developing a data scraper for scraping the data such that it would be convenient to convert it in open format.
  • Brainstorming for the designing logo of Air Quality Nepal bot (currently available on Twitter).
  • Refining data from the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board.
  • Researching on government portals and other relevant organizations, discovering useful climate and environment data, making it open and uploading it in the Open Data Nepal’s portal.

Lesson Learned

Despite being in the high-risk zone due to climate change, we realized that the climate and environment datasets related to Nepal are very difficult to access. Most of the teams struggle to find the datasets and in many cases, the available datasets are incomplete and are in unstructured formats so, lots of time was consumed in data cleaning.

Participants got to learn new things from each other and some of them successfully published the scrapped and datasets on the portal. Some of the participants showed great enthusiasm and have committed to continue the work of opening up climate and environment data of Nepal.

 

The photos of the event can be found on Google Drive here.