PRESS RELEASE: Aid donors criticised for lack of transparency

The majority of international aid donors are not publishing enough information about the money they give, undermining the effectiveness of development spending and damaging public trust, according to a new report released today by Publish What You Fund. The report comes just 2 weeks before a key international meeting on aid effectiveness in Busan, Korea.

Major donors including the U.S., Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Canada, Italy and Australia perform poorly in Publish What You Fund’s pilot Aid Transparency Index, in spite of repeated pledges to improve. The five best-ranked donors are the World Bank, the Global Fund, the African Development Bank, The Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UK’s Department for International Development.

Karin Christiansen, Managing Director of Publish What You Fund said: “These results are very disappointing. Most donors are simply not providing enough good information about their aid. This lack of transparency leads to waste, overlap and inefficiency. It impedes efforts to improve governance and reduce corruption and makes it hard to measure results. At a time when overseas aid budgets are under pressure, transparency and accountability matter more than ever.”

The Index – the first of its kind – ranks 58 donor agencies according to how much information they provide across 37 different indicators. The average score of 34% shows that although some donors have made good progress, the majority need to do much more. No donors ranked in the top category ‘good’, which requires a score of over 80%.

The fifteen worst-performers (Spain, Portugal, U.S. Department of Defense, UK Commonwealth Development Corporation, Latvia, U.S. Treasury, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, China, Greece, Cyprus and Malta) all scored less than 19%, with the bottom two scoring 0%.

In the course of the research, a number of countries provided worrying examples of how poor reporting can distort perceptions of whether aid is well spent:
• Almost the only information available about one of France’s biggest aid beneficiaries, Cote d’Ivoire, related to a project commemorating 20 years of research into chimpanzees
• Greece provided no information about its current aid activities, but an annual report from 2009 included pictures of a half-built block of flats in Serbia as evidence of an ‘implemented project’
• Austria is the fourth biggest recipient of Austrian Development Agency aid according to the government’s database of “agreed contracts”

The report calls on all donors to sign up to and implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which provides a common standard for publishing data and has the potential to transform the way aid is managed. It urges donors to use the upcoming High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Korea (November 29 – December 1) to commit to publish timely, comprehensive and comparable information on aid by 2015.

Contact: Amy Barry on +44 7980 664397, or Claudia Elliot on +44 7792114449,
For more information:
References: Cote d’Ivoire page on AFD site:; Chimpanzee research project:; Greek Annual Report:; Austrian database:

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