A Nepal district puts old records to new digital uses
Tuesday, 16 October 2001: Old records used to lie in dusty corners in Kanchanpur, a district in far-west Nepal. Now they have become part of the digital revolution. Kanchanpur is one of the areas in this mountainous country most dedicated to using information technology to modernize public administration and promote local development.
Rishi Raj Lumsali, chairperson of the district development committee, has a vision of Kanchanpur as a model "information technology-friendly" district, one that is coming to life through a programme jointly supported by the Government of Nepal and UNDP.
"The old records that used to be tightly wrapped up in big pieces of cloth and piled above the cupboards have found their place on hard-disks, and there has been an enormous change in the management system," said Mr. Lumsali.
The abundant socio-economic data on the computers has brought a dramatic revolution in the committee's planning processes, and it also provides information services for all the agencies in the district.
The district committee also produces colourful computer-generated maps depicting road networks, health clinics, educational centres, communication centres and other infrastructure. These transformations have made the committee a resource for activists, planners and students seeking maps and data.
The committee recently provided computer training to officials of seven village development committees. Five of the village committees -- in Dekhatbhuli, Jhalari, Rampur Bilashpur, Shankarpur and Shripur -- pitched in to pay 60 per cent of the cost of new computers, with the district committee paying the balance.
The village committees in Dodhara and Chandani acquired computers through a contribution from members of parliament.
"The next step is to establish links between the computers of the village committees and those of the district committee," said Mr. Lumsali. His committee has started networking with village committee computers, and six members of parliament from the district have committed to contributing computers for the district's 12 remaining village committees.