Significant step forward achieved for transparency of humanitarian aid at the World Humanitarian Summit

Development Initiatives and Publish What You Fund welcome significant steps to improve the transparency of humanitarian aid taken at the World Humanitarian Summit held this week in Turkey.

The Summit comes in the wake of the highest level of human suffering since the Second World War. It has produced key commitments towards greater transparency on spending, having acknowledged the key role this plays in tackling a widening financing gap and improving humanitarian action.

A ‘Grand Bargain’ has been agreed by leading donor governments, multilateral and UN agencies and non-governmental organisation (NGO) networks, putting forward a set of proposals and commitments for donors and other humanitarian actors as follows:

  1. Publishing information on humanitarian aid in a timely, transparent and open format based on the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard by May 2018
  2. Putting data into context, providing information on the activities, environment or circumstances of the emergency aid provided
  3. Improving the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Financial Tracking Service (FTS) online database and engaging with the open data community to get the most out of the information published. In particular, making sure the most up-to-date information is available for everyone so to ensure:
    • Greater accountability of all humanitarian actors
    • Better decision-making
    • A reduced workload with donors accepting open data in place of paper reports
    • Traceability of donors’ funding
  4. A commitment by donors to support all partners – including smaller organisations with less resources – to access and publish data

Harpinder Collacott, Executive Director at Development Initiatives said,

“An effective response to crisis must be underpinned by transparent and accessible information on what resources are available, where they are coming from, where they are being spent and what impact they are having.

The International Aid Transparency Initiative offers a solution to increase transparency of humanitarian aid and better track money and other resources to make sure they are reaching people most in need at the right time and in the right place.”

Rupert Simons, Chief Executive Officer at Publish What You Fund said,

“In order to get a full picture of humanitarian aid, donors must publish all of their information and as close to real-time as possible in the event of an emergency. Host communities need this information to help them put the aid to the best possible use.

At Publish What You Fund, we are committed to monitoring the transparency of humanitarian aid and we look forward to working with donors to make it happen.”

Both Development Initiatives and Publish What You Fund recommend that donors strive for a more ambitious delivery than the proposed two-year timeframe where possible. The technical solution – IATI – already exists and many donors already publish data on their development aid and other resource spending in this format, meaning much of the hard work has already been done.

Notes

  1. Donors in the Grand Bargain:
  • Governments: Australia, Belgium, Canada*, Denmark*, Germany, Japan*, the Netherlands*, Norway, Sweden*, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates*, United Kingdom*, United States*
  • Multilaterals (including UN): EC Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection/ECHO*, World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Organization for Migration, OCHA, United Nations Development Programme, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, UN Relief and Works Agency, World Food Programme, World Health Organization
  • NGOs networks: International Council of Voluntary Agencies, Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response, International Committee of the Red Cross, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Interaction

* denotes one of top 10 humanitarian donors, for governments only. UN not disaggregated. See Global Humanitarian Contributions in 2015: Totals by donor

  1. What is IATI? IATI is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to improve the transparency of aid, development, and humanitarian resources in order to increase their effectiveness in tackling poverty. At the centre of IATI is the IATI Standard, a format and framework for publishing data on development cooperation activities, intended to be used by all organisations, including government donors, private sector organisations, and national and international NGOs. It was designed in close consultation with key users of development cooperation data in developing countries, to ensure its relevance and utility for a variety of different data users. See more about IATI
  1. Development Initiatives published a report on transparency of humanitarian finance for the World Humanitarian Summit Better information for a better response: the basics of humanitarian transparency.
  1. Development Initiatives provides the technical lead for IATI.
  1. Publish What You Fund publishes the annual Aid Transparency Index. The 2016 Index ranks 9 out of the top 10 humanitarian donor governments on their development aid transparency. Encouragingly, five of these scored in the ‘good’ or ‘very good’ categories, but two (the US and Germany) ranked ‘fair’ and Japan and the UAE ranked in the ‘very poor’ category. As large and influential publishers, it is critical that their performances quickly improve.

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