This visualization shows Ugandan government spending alongside overseas aid for financial years 2003/4, 2004/5, and 2005/6. This is the first time that an exercise like this has been done and shows what would be possible if donors published information about their aid, which could be mapped alongside recipient countries’ domestic spending.

Currently this comparison is not possible due to a lack of transparency. This means aid donors and recipient country governments can’t work together to coordinate their efforts; it decreases developing country governments’ ownership and undermines the potential for good governance and planning. Ultimately it decreases the effectiveness of aid and public spending.

One notable thing that this exercise revealed was that for the financial year 2006/7, aid donors planned to spend almost double the amount of money than the Government of Uganda was aware of. This shows how lack of timely, comprehensive and comparable information on aid can undermine recipient countries’ planning and systems.

The data in this visualization is from the past. It would be even more useful if we had this sort of information about current – or even future – spending. The new International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) provides the potential for this to happen. If all donors published their aid to this common standard and then this was mapped to developing country budgets it would significantly increase the effectiveness of foreign aid and public spending.

Ultimately the aim of aid should be to remove the need for it – and this will only happen if recipient countries have ownership and are empowered to plan and be accountable. At the upcoming High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Korea, all donors should agree to publish their aid spending to IATI by 2015.

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