Donor aid transparency – challenges for NGOs in Nepal

(Guest blog by Krishna Sapkota, Freedom Forum)

It is great to share with you that Freedom Forum has recently produced and published a study report titled ‘Aid Transparency Situation of Nepal’ as part of a wider pilot project to better understand the aid information landscape in Nepal and to make recommendations for future work to improve the availability and accessibility of information on aid and other resources.

In the report, which garnered considerable media attention with articles in both Republica and the Kathmandu Post national daily newspapers, Freedom Forum set out to map the availability of aid data in Nepal by conducting surveys among seven major donor agencies in the country: the World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Department for International Development (DfID), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Norwegian EmbassyUSAID and UNDP

Challenges in identifying the designated information officer at the donor agency, along with slow responses from donors meant that gathering the information proved to be very time-consuming and labour-intensive, demonstrating in practice the obstacles faced by civil society organisation (CSO’s) in Nepal who wish to gather information on aid.

The major findings of the study:

  • All agencies at central level reported that they share aid and project information with different stakeholders but there are significant differences in the level of information shared
  • No agencies provided complete budgetary information
  • Six out of seven agencies have assigned officers for information sharing, with DFID being the only agency which does not have a designated officer.
  • There is discrepancy between transparency levels claimed by donor agencies and what is in fact practiced
  • Knowledge of Aid Transparency and Accountability amongst heads of district/project offices seems very low. In fact, the project beneficiaries do not seem to have any knowledge on ATA at all.

The study recommends:

  • Designated information officer should be assigned in all agencies to provide aid related information to the stakeholders
  • Donor agencies should proactively share information regularly every three months to comply with the RTI ACT of Nepal and through the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)
  • More comprehensive research and study on aid transparency should be carried out
  • The information that is provided is mostly in English, meaning it has little reach to the final beneficiaries. Different methods for information dissemination have to be adopted to make information more accessible
  • The Aid Management Platform (AMP)used by the Government of Nepal, must be integrated more effectively with the information of all government ministries and central bodies (including for example the Social Welfare Council) and all 75 Nepalese districts which receive and disburse foreign aid
  • Aid transparency should be planned and implemented at district and community levels through institutional learning and sharing best practice.

Krishna Sapkota is Executive Director of Freedom Forum, an independent, non-governmental and not-for-profit civil society organisation working for the cause of social accountability, democracy and human rights focused on press freedom, freedom of expression and right to information in Nepal. This blog was also posted on aidinfo.

 

Nicole Valentinuzzi

Nicole is the Communications Manager at Publish What You Fund. You can reach her at nicole.valentinuzzi@publishwhatyoufund.org.
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