Next week experts, civil society and donors will gather in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to attend the 2017 International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting. The purpose of the four day event is to discuss pressing issues surrounding the IATI Standard – be they political, advocacy-related or technical.

Holding such an event in Tanzania is apt as it remains a heavily aid dependant country. Official Development Assistance (ODA) accounted for approximately 40% of the national budget from 1994 to 2010.1 Moreover, in its development Vision 2025, the Tanzanian government identified donor dependency as a key economic challenge and made it their aim to regain ownership of the development process.

So, before decisions are made, what sort of information is available to stakeholders wanting to take an evidenced based approach towards development in Tanzania; to research better policy, advocate for better practice and hold international donors and the Tanzanian Government to account.

Who are the major donors and how transparent are they?

Donor Disbursement (2015)

USD millions

% of Total

International Development Association

602.31

22%

United States

453.43

16%

United Kingdom

313.03

11%

African Development Fund

217.07

8%

Global Fund

156.52

6%

EU Institutions

127.93

5%

Sweden

109.24

4%

Japan

94.84

3%

Germany

93.15

3%

Canada

82.73

3%

Grand Total

2795.68

80%

Source: OECD 2015.

The table above shows the ten largest donors to Tanzania in terms of disbursements for 2015. Collectively, they account for 80% of official flows to Tanzania (or approximately USD 2.25 billion).

An analysis of these donors, based upon 2016 data, suggests that in general they have levels of transparency that can be considered either ‘very good’ or ‘good’. However, there are a few notable exceptions. The Japanese International Cooperation Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US departments of State and Defence all have relatively low levels of transparency. This does, however, represent a relatively low percentage of total development assistance in Tanzania – just 4.3% – although it still represents USD 104 million.

What does the data tell us?

Looking at the fields of information that all of these organisations publish consistently is revealing.2

  • On average these organisations make far less information available at the project level than they do at the organisation level.

  • Information deemed essential for assessing the successes or limitations of a project, as well as its overall impact, are among the least published data fields.

  • There is a lack of disaggregated project-level budgetary data. This presents a gap in financial transparency meaning anyone wanting to scrutinise spending within a specific project would find it difficult to trace funds.

  • There is also a gap on subnational location data. Just 8% of activities on D-portal have sub-national locations, and in a country where 68% of the population live in rural areas there seems to be a substantial urban bias.

Who will use the data?

In its development strategy, Vision 2025, the Tanzanian Government noted its intention to graduate to middle income status as a semi-industrial and highly productive agricultural economy. Key to this strategy are educated citizens and an empowered civil society – a point the government echoes throughout its OGP commitments.

Access to greater and more granular data on the funding and implementation of development finance could be an asset to the government – as it attempts to take ownership of its development – and other stakeholders in the development process such as the media, civil society, academics and policy researchers, community based organisations and possibly private citizens – as they attempt to hold the government to account, recommend better policy and advocate for better practice.

Open data in Tanzania

There is also a burgeoning open data scene in Tanzania. In September 2015, Tanzania hosted the Africa Open Data Conference where a number of commitments were made by the Government to open data, including the draft of its third Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan.

Open Data Tanzania is a government portal that publishes data relating to three priority development sectors: health, education and water. This is supposed to help improve the management and monitoring of performance in these areas. It is also designed to be used by civil society, economists, media and academics as well as by politicians, parliamentarians and public administrators. The intention is that, by making this data public, a more diverse range of actors can be brought into the policy debate, bringing new thinking, values and ideas into the process.

More data is being uploaded to the portal each day. What is less clear, however, is whether anyone is making use of it.

D-Lab is one such organisation which seeks to link up a range of data relating to public service provision and development management from multiple sources, including the IATI Registry. Its objective is to provide and use data to drive better policy and decision making.

Geo-located projects in Tanzania. Source D-Portal

This emerging open data movement could well become users of IATI and development data or bridge gaps between data producers and potential users and form a platform around which this can drive collective action.

A key issue at the TAG therefore, must be how to identify potential and existing users of data beyond the IATI Standard, and work with such groups to explore where data can help them meet their objectives. The volume of ‘use’ sessions on the TAG agenda suggests that we can be optimistic that this issue will be up for discussion.


1 Heiner Janus and Niels Keijzer, 2015. Big Results Now? Emerging Lessons from Results-Based Aid in Tanzania. Discussion Paper. Bonn: German Development Institute.

2 Applied across the entirety of an organisations portfolio and may not be directly consistent with the quality of data in Tanzania.