The new Government Innovation Lab, Durshal, bustled with energy and zest on the afternoon of 7th March. Government officials, Code for Pakistan and World Bank representatives, mentors, Alumni Fellows and the new batch of Fellows had collected at KP IT Board to launch the third cycle of the KP Civic Innovation Fellowship. Since 2014, KP IT Board, Code for Pakistan and the World Bank have successfully run two cycles of the KP Civic Innovation Fellowship Program with 30 graduated Fellows. The Fellowship teams partnered with various government departments including the Traffic Police Department, Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Health Department, KP IT Board, Directorate of IT, and Energy & Power Department to develop different open source applications, transforming public service delivery and bridging the gap between citizens and the government.

Following the success of the first two fellowship cycles, the Fellowship Program has entered its 3rd cycle in 2017. Growing from a batch of 12 Fellows who worked part-time with us in 2014-2015, we received 600+ applications and moved to 20 part-time Fellows in 2015-2016. This year, we received over a 1000 applications and jointly, with the KP IT Board and the World Bank, selected 20 Fellows to work with 5 different government departments for 40 hours a week. The Fellows will create technological solutions and help the government deliver public services more efficiently.

At the launch ceremony, KP IT Board's Managing Director, Dr. Shahbaz Khan spoke about the importance of civic innovation and briefed the audience of the various initiatives undertaken by KPITB, of which the Fellowship Program is one of the flagship programs. He also spoke about the launch of Durshal, the government innovation lab which will house the Fellows but will also work towards digital transformation within KP. Durhsal will serve as a co-working space and an incubation center, providing a platform for startups to kick off. Training sessions and workshops will also be conducted at Durshal and efforts will be made to reduce the digital divide and give more people access to digital literacy and digital programs.

CfP's Head of Fellowships, Anam Zakaria introduced the audience to the digital transformation taking place globally with examples from the US Digital Service Program, 18F, UK Government Digital Service, and Australia's Digital Transformation Agency. Zakaria commented that the KP Government was driving the civic innovation movement in the country and was perfectly poised to become a part of the global movement. CfP was excited to help the KP government reach new heights of success. She shared details about the Fellowship Program and the impact of previous projects with the Traffic Police and Provincial Disaster Management Authority Departments. Zakaria also walked the audience through other CfP initiatives including the civic innovation labs, open data training programs, student internships and more. At the end of her talk, Zakaria played a video sent by the Code for All community. Code for All members sent their greetings from around the world and wished the KP IT Board and the KP government all the best for the upcoming Fellowship Program.

KP Civic Innovation Fellowship Manager, Ebtihaj shared details of the five teams of young innovators who have been selected to work with government departments to deliver solutions that improve service delivery. The government departments on board for this cycle include the Peshawar Traffic Police, Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar, KP IT Board, Directorate of Industries and Commerce and the KP tourism Department.

On behalf of the World Bank Group, Senior Advisor Amjad Arbab lauded the efforts of the KP IT Board and Code for Pakistan and shared his excitement about the progress in the KP province in civic innovation. He reinforced World Bank's commitment to enabling growth and development in KP and working with the KP Government and IT Board to further civic innovation and IT programs.

Secretary ST & IT, Mr. Dawood Khan graced the launch with his presence as the Chief Guest. He was extremely supportive of the Fellowship Program and impressed by the efforts made by the KPITB, CfP and the World Bank in driving civic innovation initiatives in the province.

The launch ended with tea which allowed mentors, the new batch of Fellows, alumni Fellows, government, CfP and World Bank representatives to intermingle and share experiences and future plans regarding the Fellowship Program. The Fellows got to work the very next morning and are full of passion and commitment to make this cycle increasingly successful and create impact in the communities around them.