UPDATE 30/04/18: We are encouraged to see that IATI have committed to publishing their guidance on how to implement aid and budget alignment this week.  

Information on aid that is aligned with country budget classifications is a key demand of partner countries. This supports more accurate budgeting, accounting and auditing by partner countries, helping better manage both external and domestic resources. It has been part of the commitments made in Paris, Accra, Busan and Mexico, with a specific indicator measuring the share of aid reported on country budgets.

Several assessments of progress since the Paris High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness found that data use remains low by partner country governments and civil society actors. This is in part because the information in its current format is not suited to their needs. IATI’s data use strategy states:

The strongest demand and existing use case for IATI data is to inform budget preparation by finance ministries.

Together with a range of organisations – particularly Global Affairs Canada – Publish What You Fund has long advocated for IATI publishers to publish aid data aligned to recipient country budgets. It has been debated and discussed at length in the IATI community and progressed through a number of iterations, including the common code and the budget identifier. The community has settled on an elegant solution – to use a subset of DAC five-digit sector codes that have been demonstrated to be mappable to recipient country budgets.

Last month, IATI blogged that the number of activities reported using the IATI standard crossed the one million threshold. As the quantity of aid data published to IATI continues to grow and improve, Publish What You Fund continues to advocate for an accompanying improvement in the quality.

Taking a snapshot of all data on the IATI Registry, we find that while 80% of activities are classified using DAC five-digit sector codes, more than a quarter of these activities (over 200,000) use codes that are not aligned to recipient country budgets. These include unspecific and insufficiently granular codes such as “Multisector aid” and “Sectors not specified”.

One blocker to including aid and budget alignment as an indicator in the Aid Transparency Index was the lack of published guidance on the topic from IATI. Over a year ago, at the IATI TAG in March 2017, it was agreed that IATI would provide such guidance. This was due to be added as part of the upgrade to version 2.03, but while a draft of this guidance has been written and shared, it is yet to be formally adopted.

We encourage the IATI Secretariat to publish this guidance as soon as possible. It is only when publishers have clear instructions for best practice that this much needed information can start making a difference to partner country governments.