Users of the AidData database will soon be able to export details of aid activities in the new international aid reporting standard. The database will still run queries on activities by aid donor, sector, and country as before, but now be exportable in the common standard which was finalized by the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) on February 7th 2011.
AidData is also working on making the database exportable in the XML format prescribed by IATI, which means that the data will be easier to mash up with other types of information (such as development statistics – the result of which can be found in AidData’s web app, Development Loop). The AidData database currently accounts for around $4 trillion in development activities funded by nearly 90 donor agencies between 1945 and 2010, so this feature will make a vast quantity of aid information compatible with the standard.
Both the UK Department for international Development and the Hewlett Foundation have published their data to the IATI registry since February, and the remaining 16 IATI signatories have committed to doing so before the end of the year. On the 4th April Sweden launched www.OpenAid.se which allows people to see where aid money has gone, and the U.S. and World Bank have recently released data portals and dashboards to increase their aid transparency.
As Emily Kallaur at AidData states, “without a universally-accepted protocol on aid information reporting, aid datasets remain isolated and must be analyzed and repackaged individually”. However, with an international standard for reporting aid activities, more information can mean better information. Now that data can be shared in the same ‘language’, important decisions and evaluation can be made in the light of accurate information and with a view of the ‘bigger picture’ of global aid.
As more donors and organisations publish their information to the IATI standard, the more useful and meaningful the data becomes. Publish What You Fund will be urging governments to deliver on their commitment to aid transparency throughout 2011.