Publish What You Fund Launch

(Accra/London/Madrid) – The Publish What You Fund campaign today called on donor governments to act immediately on commitments to greater transparency of aid made yesterday (4 September 2008) in the Accra Agenda for Action on Aid Effectiveness.

Publish What You Fund noted that while the transparency commitments in the Accra Agenda are insufficient, they nevertheless represent a step in the right direction. Without specifying how it will be achieved, donor governments have committed to publish “regular, detailed, and timely” information on aid spending. They also committed to open procurement of services, as well as to providing “full and timely information” on current and planned aid spending, up to 5 years in advance. Publish What You Fund calls for this information to be made available without delay.

“The commitments in the Accra Agenda for Action reflect growing recognition that greater transparency is central to aid delivering on its promise – to empower people in the fight against poverty,” said Martin Tisné, Programme Director at Tiri (London), one of the founders of the Publish What You Fund Campaign. “Lack of transparency is detrimental to democratic engagement and accountability and risks undercutting aid effectiveness.”

The Publish What You Fund campaign also welcomed the initiative on 4 September by the governments of the UK and the Netherlands to launch the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) to improve information about aid. The IATI responds to calls from civil society by establishing a process to deliver “full and detailed information on all aid” and “details and costs of individual projects”.

“The IATI has the potential to make real the Accra commitments to transparency,” said Helen Darbishire, Director of Access Info (Madrid) a founder of the Publish What You Fund Campaign. “Donors have for years talked about transparency underpinning aid effectiveness, but have failed to deliver. We expect IATI to help change that by setting specific benchmarks for timely, accessible, and detailed information about aid.”

The International Aid Transparency Initiative has been supported by the governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom; in addition to the European Commission, GAVI, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.

“We will be watching donors” added Karin Christiansen, Policy Manager for ONE and a founder of the campaign. “The IATI is the vehicle for making the aid transparency commitments of the Accra Agenda for Action real. We expect donors to sign up to IATI and for it to deliver on the Publish What You Fund principles.”

Transparency means more than just disclosure – it also entails proactive communication with people in recipient countries. “Donors must ensure that IATI promotes accessible aid information in plain and readily comprehensible language and formats” concluded Martin Tisné.

The Publish What You Fund Campaign brings together groups working on aid, good governance and the right to access information to define how greater transparency of aid can be achieved. Publish What You Fund will monitor compliance with the transparency commitments in the Accra Agenda for Action and will participate in the IATI process. The four principles of the Publish What You Fund campaign are:

  1. Information on aid should be published proactively
  2. Everyone has the right to request and receive information about aid
  3. Information on aid should be timely, accessible and comparable
  4. The right of access to information about aid should be actively promoted

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