Development finance institutions as a group perform above average in ranking of 45 aid and development donors

The Asian Development Bank comes top for the first time in a global transparency ranking, as the seven development finance institutions (DFIs) included perform well overall*.

The Aid Transparency Index, launched by Publish What You Fund, ranked 45 major donor organisations globally. The Index assesses donors that spend over $1 billion in aid, evaluating how easy they make it to track the foreign assistance they provide**.

Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President, Asian Development Bank said: I am very proud of the progress that the Asian Development Bank has made since the last Aid Transparency Index. Our position reflects a cross-organisational commitment to improving the quality of our open data publication, including political commitment at the highest level. Transparency is a critical aspect of effective development work and we are glad to be at the forefront of it.

A key finding from the report is that the availability of information is getting better. Half of the 45 donors now publish their information on a monthly basis, up from 25% in 2016. The DFI group all publish on a monthly basis, except for the World Bank – IDA, which publishes quarterly.

However, many basic pieces of information are still lacking in the data, from both high performing agencies and those lower down the ranking. For example, more than a quarter of organisations do not provide descriptions of their projects at all or if they do, they cannot be understood by non-experts. The critical information required to assess a project’s performance – such as pre-project impact appraisals, mid-term reviews, evaluations and results, are still the least provided data by donors overall.

Ms. Catherine Turner, acting CEO, Publish What You Fund, said: It is really promising to see the improvement from many organisations in the frequency of their publication. We know that data users want access to the most up to date information possible. However, what we want to see now is donors across the board doing a much better job at showing their impact. Only 15 of the organisations we looked at publish results information on their current projects. This makes it very difficult for watchdogs, partner country governments and donors themselves to understand what is working and if the promised results are being achieved.

At the bottom of the rankings, the donors that remain in the ‘very poor’ category are the only three agencies that do not make their information available to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) open data standard or elsewhere***. These are Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.


Notes to Editor

* The six other development finance institutions assessed and their rank are:

4th African Development Bank

6th World Bank – IDA

7th Inter-American Development Bank

24th European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

25th European Investment Bank

27th World Bank – IFC
** The 2018 Index methodology uses 35 indicators to monitor aid transparency. The indicators have been selected using the information types agreed in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard. The 35 indicators are arranged across five key components:

  • Organisational planning and commitments to aid transparency
  • Finance and budgets
  • Project attributes (for example titles, descriptions and sub-national locations)
  • Joining-up development data (with other important streams of information such as country budgets)
  • Performance (for example impact appraisals, progress towards targets, evaluations)


*** The Aid Transparency Index is distinct from the International Aid transparency Initiative (IATI). IATI is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative seeking to improve the transparency of aid, development and humanitarian resources, which enables information on aid and development activities to be shared in an open format. Organisations publish information by linking their aid data to the IATI Registry, which acts as an online catalogue of links to all of the raw data published to the Standard.


About Publish What You Fund:

Publish What You Fund is the global campaign for aid transparency. Launched in 2008, it has produced the Aid Transparency Index since 2011 (2018 is the sixth full Index report – NB this link will go live at midday on the 20th) to monitor and encourage progress towards aid transparency. The report is the only independent measure of aid transparency among the world’s major aid organisations.

The 2018 Aid Transparency Index website will be available from Midday BST at:

To find out more about why aid transparency matters, watch our new animation here:

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