Why we all need reliable data
Whether you’re searching online for a good Italian restaurant, or trying to work out where and how a donor has spent its aid, we all need reliable and accurate data. In a new blog, Elma Jenkins discusses how we use the Aid Transparency Index process to drive improvements in the quality of aid data. We’ve already taken a first cut of the data published by 47 donors, and scored it for frequency and consistency. We’re now checking for quality through our manual sampling process. The team has been busy sampling 20 documents and data points for 16 indicators for each donor. We’ve assessed 6,000 samples so far. As Elma explains, there is still lots of work to do before we launch the next Index on 24th June…
The Impact of the US Budget Request on Aid
The US President’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2021 was recently released. It included a reduction of 22 percent to the foreign affairs budget, a drastic cut which is unlikely to be approved by Congress. The proposal has been criticised by many in the development community, including the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network which stated that even if not implemented, the proposed cuts will lead to significant disruptions and inefficiencies in the planning, obligation, and implementation of foreign aid programs. Our US Representative, Sally Paxton, talked to Devex (£) about the budget request, reflecting on the learning from our research into the impacts of previous proposed cuts in four country case studies.
Development Finance Trends in 2020
Our team was recently at the OECD Private Finance for Sustainable Development conference. While we were there we spoke to Devex – which has published this article on the expected trends for development finance in 2020. Growing corporate interest in sustainability investing, a mounting demand for transparency and a sense of urgency around achieving the SDGs are all spurring some interesting conversations, and potential changes in development finance.
News from our Networks
And here’s a quick round up of what else we’ve been reading over the last month…
Oxfam has released an examination of donors’ gender-mainstreamed and gender-equality focused projects to assess the quality of gender-marked projects’. The research examines 72 projects from seven donors that provided over $6 billion worth of gender equality funding. Its findings suggest there is a major gap between self-reported funding (as reported against the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Gender Marker) and high-quality gender equality projects.
Members of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) community have set up Code for IATI to bring together tools and techniques regularly used when working with IATI data.
In 2019 the Development Policy Centre conducted its third audit of the transparency of the Australian Government Aid Program. This focused on information on specific aid projects, based on what could be found on the Aid Program’s website. Key findings included:
- By comparing website and OECD CRS data, the researchers found that about 85 per cent of significant projects in the typical recipient country were online.
- On average, availability of basic information on the projects listed online fell from 2013 to 2016.
- In terms of detailed project information, transparency fell for planning and implementation documents, but improved for reviews and evaluations.
- Transparency was worse for smaller projects.
- Projects that started their lives transparently tended to stay more transparent.
In a blog for the Brookings Institution, Susanna Campbell and George Ingram discuss how accountability instruments (such as monitoring, evaluation, use of data and evidence, and transparency) have helped to improve the effectiveness of foreign assistance, but that their usefulness is limited in complex, uncertain and rapidly changing fragile environments. They discuss the role of adaptive programming, the need to support learning in the field and the challenges this can pose for donors.
The world’s major donors reserved almost $21 billion of their bilateral aid for suppliers from their own countries in 2018, OECD figures show — $4.7 billion more than the year before. According to this Devex article, Japan was largely responsible for the leap. The main donors tying aid in 2018 were the US with almost $11 billion tied, or 39.8% of its total bilateral aid; Japan with $4.2 billion, or 22.4%; Germany with $3.1 billion, or 14.9%; and South Korea with $1.3 billion, or 48.2%. The figures have raised concern from aid advocates who say that tied aid undermines both development effectiveness and value for money.
This BMJ article aims to make sense of China’s health aid, looking at the difficulties of tracking health aid data, reviewing recent estimates and discussing the importance of transparency for the future.
A new Oxfam report says EU development funds for Africa have often been tied to the ability for countries to curb migration to the continent. It states that the allocation of the funds was largely without public oversight and often based on political considerations rather than effectiveness and need. Author of the report Raphael Shilhav, said the lack of transparency in the allocation of funds — often a prerequisite for its release — posed major problems. “There’s no one tracking the money beginning to end.”