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Nepal slowly opening: World Bank

The World Bank senior official hailed Nepal’s progress in creating openness and transparency, apart from strengthening institutions.
“Nepal has achieved considerable progress in recent years, despite a challenging environment,” World Bank Nepal country director Johannes Zutt said, during a Knowledge Forum, in the capital today.
“In particular, Nepal is gradually strengthening its institutions and introducing greater openness and transparency,” he said, adding that the recent move of Nepal has focused on embedding social accountability mechanisms within government operations to ensure the effective and inclusive delivery of services to citizens, especially in the more remote districts and at the local level.
The World Bank has been supporting Programme for Accountability in Nepal (PRAN) for the last four years to promote and implement social accountability (SA) initiatives. PRAN has brought together government officials, civil society organisations, development partners and relevant stakeholders for a two-day forum starting today, to further enhance its mission on accountability.
The forum aimed at reflecting lessons that have been learnt together and the experiences gathered so far.
Following the opening remarks, the participants discussed on ‘Opening the Civic Space in Nepal’. Vice chair of National Planning Commission (NPC) Dr Govinda Pokharel moderated the session that saw participation of Team Task Leader of PRAN/ World Bank Luiza Nora, joint secretary at the Finance Ministry Madhu Kumar Marasini, chairperson of Freedom Forum Tara Nath Dahal, chairperson of NGO Federation Sharmila Karki and deputy head of Mission at Department of International Development (DfID) Mark Smith.
“Public awareness is a must to make the authorities responsible and accountable,” Pokharel said, emphasising on local election at the earliest. There is an absence of local government for almost two decades.
“PRAN has been influential in uplifting the lives of the marginalised and vulnerable and it can have a really impactful role in the future as well, said Marasini, on the occasion.
It is good to see that the World Bank, alongside its projects on infrastructure hasn’t forgotten about social accountability, he said, adding, as a result of different initiatives aimed at promoting social accountability, often supported by international organisations and local CSOs, the government is in the process of recognising that sustainable improvements in governance require systemic changes and collaboration from all the stakeholders.
PRAN also sought to develop the capacity of civil society organisations and government agencies through practical training, action learning and networking to promote citizen engagement in Nepal.
The event also included a social accountability ‘Knowledge Fair’, highlighting results stories from existing social accountability initiatives in Nepal.
PRAN is also conducting budget literacy programme for the locals, who were unaware about the governments programmes.