Promoting Evidence-based Development Practices in Karnali through Project Information Management System

February 13, 2024

Karnali Province faces some of the most challenging development contexts, including difficult mountainous terrains, weak connectivity and sparsely populated areas. With daunting socio-economic challenges, it ranks lowest among the provinces in a number of development indicators.

The National Planning Commission’s Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021 shows that 39.5% of Karnali's population faces multidimensional poverty-- highest among all provinces. Gender disparities persist, amplifying challenges across various sectors. Women and marginalized groups such as Dalits, often struggle to make their voices heard in decision-making processes. The 2019 Federalism Capacity Needs Assessment reveals gaps in evidence-based decision-making and policy formulation at the provincial and local government levels.

Ganga Awasthi, a local governance expert and former Secretary of the Government of Nepal who has been supporting Karnali Province in policymaking, stresses the critical need for evidence-based decision-making. “Evidence-based decision-making is not just a preference but an imperative for a province like Karnali with formidable development challenges,” he says. In his view, a digital platform that provides the provincial and local governments access to crucial datasets for more informed decision-making is highly significant in Karnali’s development context.

Amid these challenges, the European Union Support to Inclusive Federalism (EUSIF), a project implemented by UNDP in Karnali, collaborated with the Karnali province government to establish a dynamic digital information system. This collaborative effort resulted in the creation of a GIS-based Project Information Management System (PIMS). This platform serves as an innovative tool, offering a comprehensive view of Karnali's development project landscape, aiding the subnational governments, international development partners and other development practitioners with informed decision-making and fostering transparency in resource allocations.

The system functions as an important source of information about the projects funded by the provincial and local government and development partners. It showcases comprehensive project data, considering factors such as location, gender, sectors, and their linkage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By doing so, it not only supports inclusive planning and budgeting but also facilitates fair and equitable investments throughout the province. 

Sunil Limbu, an officer at the Karnali Provincial Planning Commission (KPCC), an agency under the province government that is responsible for the operation and management of the system, sees PIMS as a catalyst for reducing resource duplications and discrepancies in project distribution. "It is very useful in making development activities information-driven," Limbu notes.

The platform provides a wealth of information, giving a comprehensive view of project specifics, funding origins, sectors involved, allocated budgets, and the impact on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Currently, as of 19 January 2024, the platform displays a notable 7,48 active projects. Together, these projects have a cumulative budget of USD 362.4 million, collectively contributing to the advancement of 15 out of the 17 SDGs.

Local government officials see PIMS as an empowering tool providing insights into project impacts at the grassroots level in Karnali. Planning Officer of Dullu Municipality Tilak BK, considers the platform crucial for evidence-based decision-making. He believes it will help elected representatives and officials at the local government level in making informed decisions, improving efficiency in resource allocation. Additionally, PIMS presents a detailed socio-economic status of local governments in Karnali, enriching decision-making processes. The system also displays information related to human casualties and property damages in the Jajarkot earthquake.  

On June 5, PIMS took a crucial step in its journey as EUSIF officially handed it over to the provincial government. For its sustainability, the project conducted orientations for key government stakeholders and trained the IT officers of LGs on its operation and updating process. OCMCM acknowledged EUSIF's contribution, citing the adoption of the Information Management System Operations Directives 2023 as a significant achievement within its initial 100 days in office.

Expanding its scope, PIMS considers important aspects like gender equality, social inclusion (GESI), and climate change adaptation (CCA) in projects. The database analyzes a project's GESI contribution, distinguishing it as direct, indirect, or GESI-neutral. Similarly, the impact on CCA is categorized as highly relevant, relevant, or neutral. Hailing the GESI classification feature, Deputy Mayor of Dullu Municipality Bina Karki says, “Such efforts are crucial for promoting inclusivity in line with Nepal's constitution and international frameworks.”

In Nepal, coordination among federal, provincial, and local governments has been a challenge since the adoption of the three-tier government system. This lack of coordination often leads to duplication of efforts at the grassroots level. PIMS, armed with real-time information, is anticipated to play a crucial role in promoting better coordination and avoiding redundancies in developmental efforts.

Ananda Saru, Secretary, OCMCM

OCMCM Secretary Ananda Saru emphasizes the broader impact of PIMS, highlighting its role in systematically organizing project information in Karnali. He underlines its utility for both the government and development partners, providing a structured approach for setting priorities and avoiding the duplication of resources.

As PIMS is still undergoing further expansion, there are notable developments. Dullu Municipality has already taken proactive measures to ensure robust utilization of PIMS. On November 3, it initiated a concerted effort to engage with all development partners and stakeholders operating within its jurisdiction. This outreach aimed at soliciting detailed information about ongoing projects such as project types, objectives, the precise Wards of implementation and anticipated timeframes.

Inspired by the accomplishments of Karnali Province in pioneering PIMS, Lumbini Province wants to emulate the success. After consultations with Karnali OCMCM and Karnali Province Planning Commission, Lumbini Province has started process to replicate PIMS. This underlines the potential of PIMS as a tool for enhanced governance and project coordination as well as for inter-governmental relations.

Yogendra Bahadur Shahi, Vice Chair, Karnali Province Planning Commission


“PIMS will assist provincial and local governments to understand the concentration of development projects and set priorities. PIMS can be instrumental in maintaining accountability in terms of the development projects,” says Yogendra Bahadur Shahi, Vice Chair, Karnali Province Planning Commission

There are plans in place to integrate PIMS with vital government

 systems such as the Line Ministry Budget Information System, Provincial Line Ministry Budget Information System, Computerized Government Accounting System and Sub-national Treasury Regulatory Application. This integration aims to create a smooth flow of information and promote interconnectedness and inter-governmental coordination and collaboration.

One of the objectives of EUSIF is to enhance the capacity of provincial and local government institutions, as well as inter-governmental mechanisms, to facilitate evidence-based decision-making and policy formulation in support of the implementation of inclusive federalism. The project is designed as a  complementary support to the Government of Nepal’s flagship programme, the Provincial and Local Governance Support Programme (PLGSP). EUSIF is working closely with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration, provincial and local governments in Karnali, PLGSP, international development partners working in the province and civil society organizations. With the goal of improving government systems, EUSIF puts significant effort into ensuring inclusivity, fairness, accountability and sustainability in the basic services provided by provincial and local governments.