News Roundup – Noisy Data, New ODA Data, DFI Updates & Australian aid
Does noisy data put IATI users off?
Silvia Poggioli, country director of AIFO Liberia, Was keen to find out which donors currently support, or have previously supported disability-focused work in Liberia. Our new blog follows Silvia’s attempts to use IATI data to support her fundraising efforts. When confronted with 5,800 results, she realised it wasn’t going to be as easy or quick as she’d hoped. We explore the issue of noisy data, and why we think it’s an issue for all publishers to consider.
It’s been a busy week for new research, blogs and reports. Here’s what’s caught our attention…
The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has launched its preliminary 2018 official development assistance (ODA) data, revealing that development aid dropped in the year, especially for the neediest countries. In 2018, ODA by DAC members totalled USD 153.0 billion, representing 0.31% of their combined gross national income (GNI). Net ODA flows by DAC member countries were USD 149.3 billion in 2018, representing a fall of 2.7% in real terms compared to 2017. The fall reflects a reduction in in-donor refugee costs for many DAC members; excluding these costs, net ODA levels were stable compared to 2017. Net bilateral ODA flows to low-income countries were USD 24 billion and fell by 6% in real terms compared to 2017. Net bilateral ODA from DAC countries to the group of least developed countries fell by 2.7% in real terms to reach USD 27.6 billion.
In 2019, OECD used the grant equivalent system as the standard for measuring ODA. This video explains the new approach and why it has been introduced.
IATI has launched its annual report, highlighting achievements and progress in its tenth anniversary year. It reports that over 950 organisations have now published data covering more than one million activities to the IATI Standard, and publishers reported almost USD 152 billion of spending in 2018. The UNDP reflected on the first ten years of IATI in this blog. Meanwhile, the IATI technical team has published its latest quarterly update. Plans for the next quarter include the launch of the new data store and validator.
New research from the Overseas Development Institute and Development Initiatives calls for development thinking to undergo a transformational shift to address inequalities within countries, as well as between countries. The research looks at spending by government and donors in all of the 82 poorest countries, and how well it is targeted at subnational level. It finds that there is little evidence from the publicly available data that either government or donors are responding to the distribution of poverty within countries. It also finds that data on how finance is allocated at the subnational level is extraordinarily lacking. Only one in seven countries publishes adequate budget data and only one in eleven adequate aid data. The report sets out two recommendations to improve targeting and increase transparency.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the reduction of the country’s foreign aid budget. Australia’s aid allocation has been reduced to 4.04 billion Australian dollars (USD 2.86 billion) for the 2019-20 financial year, down from the projected final spend of AUD 4.33 billion for the current financial year, which has been met with concern from the development sector. The Government set Australia’s aid budget at a mark of AUD 4 billion for the forward estimates until 2022-23, which means Australia’s foreign aid will reach a low point in 2021-22, when ODA drops to 0.19% of GNI. There is more on the budget and the impacts for development in this Devex article.
The Center for Global Development (CGD) is examining the progress of the new US Development Finance Corporation (DFC), due to be launched in October. In a new article CGD argues that the White House is ‘gutting the most important features of the new agency’. The article highlights four unresolved issues that have the potential to seriously undermine the ambitious vision of the BUILD Act’s congressional champions.
The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Development Gateway have released a new report examining how DFID makes decisions and how this could be improved. It lays out the role that data plays in supporting key decisions taken by DFID at the strategy, portfolio (sector or country), and programme level.
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has released the Sizing the Impact Investing Market report, which estimates that there are about USD 502 billion in impact investments around the world, managed by more than 1,340 organisations. Development finance institutions (DFIs) manage just over a quarter of the total industry assets. The GIIN has also released a new set of core characteristics that define an impact investment; these are intentionality; the use of evidence and impact data in investment design; that they manage impact performance; and that they contribute to the growth of the impact investing market.
Over the past few weeks, Devex has been investigating the rise of DFIs — what these institutions do, how they operate, and how their new role has meant more scrutiny of the institutions. You can catch up with the series here, including an opinion piece from our CEO Gary Forster on DFI transparency.