Tajikistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia with an ancient culture that went through different forms of government from feudalism, communism (socialism) and finally became a sovereign democratic Republic in 1991. The current political structure was established after the civil war. The country during its 25 years of independence has been gradually moving towards stronger civil society, democracy and rule of law.

With the view of promoting reforms in local governance system, coordination of activities of local governments and local self-governing bodies and to support the balanced development of all regions, a Local Development Committee (LDC) was established in November 2013 under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan . And the committee started functioning from 2015.

LDC is a relatively new structure but has already demonstrated itself as a capable institution to pursue positive development changes in local governance area. LDC views open data as an essential part of local government’s performance management.

In 2016, with the support of Ministry of Finance of Slovak Republic within the project “Transformative Governance and Finance Facility”, pilot projects on open data were initiated in Europe and CIS region. Launching open data pilot by UNDP Tajikistan in partnership with the Local Development Committee has prerequisites for success. Local governance is crucial for achieving national development strategies and sustainable human development in a country with 70% of the population living in rural areas and only 30% in urban.

The main problem which the pilot is trying to solve is two-fold:

  • weak coordination and communication within the different levels of government on the supply side; and
  • lack of public participation in local development management, including local planning, budgeting and monitoring processes, on the demand side.

Linked to this, the institutional performance of the local governments is further exacerbated by the fact that the data collection process takes place manually, using offline tools, and is paper-based and not fully accessible to civil society thus making local planning and decision making difficult. This in turn, affects the timeliness, quality and frequency of the development data and implementation of development-related decisions. Alternative data sets are often non-existent, are not very frequent or done in a non-systemic basis[1]. This situation makes development management process rather challenging.

The main goal of the project is to increase transparency and improve the performance of the Local Development Committee, local government and self-governance bodies through the provision of tools and mechanisms to collect, process and analyse timely, accurate and up to date development data.

The achievement of this goal will be based on three main “whales”:

  1. Open Data Portal with data on districts and jamoats with the goal to meet 5-star deployment scheme for Open Data.
  2. Increased Data Literacy through workshops, series of trainings on Open Data and Open Government, Open Data Portal, statistics
  3. Data products in the form of reports, visualizations, applications,

The pilot is a small e-governance prototype which can be scaled to all levels of local government. At the same time, the project will aim to increase data literacy among youth/students (most active /advance category of citizens, one of biggest consumer and supplier of data among citizens) and advocate the use of open data and data products. This pilot can showcase benefits of using Open Data both for Government and citizens.

The project is under technical evaluation, and it’s planned to conduct human-centered design workshop for civil servants in April 2017. Based on results of the workshop Open Data Portal will be designed and launched.

It’s expected that for the first year of the pilot data for three districts – Bobojon Gafurov, Yovon and Tojikobod and their jamoats will be fully available on the portal. These districts and their jamoats having better conditions and better human resource and technical capacities can be promoted as Open Data Champions among other districts and jamoats. The ambitious goal is to cover the whole country which is four regions, about 58 districts and almost four hundred jamoats of the country within 2-3 years having unified, fully functioning and people-centered Open Data Portal for local planning and local development.

[1] For instance, Tajikistan Living Standards Survey was carried out in 2003, 2007 and 2009 and was discontinued. The last Demographics and Health Survey was conducted in 2012.