How the new Development Finance Corporation can get off to a solid start
Scheduled to open its doors this fall, the new US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has some ambitious and welcome goals. In their latest blog, George Ingram and Sally Paxton consider what good data looks like, why we need it and what the DFC needs to do if it is to set the gold standard for a modern and transparent development finance institution (DFI).
Reflections from Bangladesh: data needs and data challenges
Gary Forster and Henry Lewis are just back from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. They have been finishing the final research stage of our humanitarian transparency project –trying to understand the data needs and challenges of humanitarian actors on the ground, and how they might be addressed. In a new blog with our partners Ruba Ishak and Max Seilern from Ground Truth Solutions, they reflect on their experience in Bangladesh and the insights shared by interviewees who are dealing with one of the biggest refugee crises in the world. They discuss initial thoughts on the unique context, data collection and co-ordination, the quantity of data and how it is used. Work is underway on the final report which is due to be released early next year.
And here’s a quick round up of what else we’ve been reading over the last month…
Development Initiatives has launched the 2019 Global Humanitarian Assistance report. It shows that the biggest three donors, US, Germany and the UK all cut humanitarian spending in 2018, despite record amounts being requested by the United Nations to deal with unprecedented need. The overall amount of humanitarian assistance globally did slightly increase (to $28.9 billion) due to a leap in spending from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The report highlights growth in cash and voucher programmes, as well as multi-year funding. But it also notes the need for more and better data: in 2018 only 7.9% of humanitarian aid was reported beyond first-level recipients.
In this Brookings Institution blog, Simon Scott discusses the problems of using official development assistance (ODA) as a statistical measure. He is critical of recent changes by the OECD Development Assistance Committee to ODA reporting rules, including the use of grant equivalents to measure loans made to governments and other public bodies, and how the sale of equity investments at a profit is reported. Scott writes that the changes have created fundamental flaws of over counting and incoherence, generating anomalies and inconsistencies. “ODA’s definition, coverage, and reporting instructions all need urgent and fundamental review.”
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has updated its Leave no one behind index, which reviews 159 countries and finds only 81 are ‘ready’ to meet the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’. The ODI has also picked out three ways DFIs can step up their game to tackle poverty – one of which is a focus on better metrics and data.
Philippe Le Houérou, CEO of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has written of the importance of transparency in blended finance. He has announced that the IFC will publicly disclose the estimated subsidy for each proposed project along with the justification for why it is necessary. “IFC will use this approach for all of its blended finance facilities. And I encourage the rest of the DFI community who are also using blended finance to do the same.”
Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development responded to this announcement with a blog, describing it as a welcome first step. But he calls for greater action amongst all DFIs, including reporting on estimated market rates and credit risk data.
This Babbage podcast “Data to the rescue” examines how humanitarian organisations use data and what they can learn from the profit-making tech industry.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) has launched its new Datastore Query Builder for testing. It is designed to allow complex searches of spending and activities published according to the IATI Standard.
Martin Horwood MEP raised the issue of aid transparency and the IATI Standard at the European Commission during questions with the European Commissioner-designate for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, seeking her commitment to promoting and increasing aid transparency if confirmed in post.
This article uses data from the EU Aid Explorer portal (based on OECD and IATI sources) to check and dispute claims recently made by US President Donald Trump that Europe was not contributing aid to Ukraine.
Earlier this year, EU governments asked nine experts how to make European development finance more coherent and effective. The group recently issued its report, setting out three long-term options for how to create a European Climate and Sustainable Development Bank to replace the fragmentation and inefficiencies in the current system. According to this Devex article, the report highlighted some of the strengths of the European DFIs but also found, “there are varying levels of transparency and inclusiveness in their governance structures and decision-making processes.”
The UN General Assembly has adopted a Resolution Proclaiming September 28th as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.
Questions have been raised about Australia’s aid transparency, according to this Devex article (£), after a heavily redacted document was released in response to a freedom of information request. The document in question relates to a briefing received by Alex Hawke, the new minister for international development and the Pacific.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) has paid tribute to George Ingram, who is stepping down as co-chair of the group after almost ten years. (George remains chair of Friends of Publish What You Fund.) MFAN has confirmed that Larry Nowels will take on the role of co-chair.