We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and well in these challenging times. The Publish What You Fund team are now all working from home; we continue to work on the Aid Transparency Index, the DFI Transparency Initiative, our humanitarian data transparency research and our new gender aid data research. Here is our usual monthly round up of news from the aid and development transparency world…
Tracking gender aid data for better gender equality
We have recently embarked on a project that seeks to improve the publication of gender-related financial and programmatic data to achieve better development outcomes. Reaching and measuring progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 will require more transparent, usable and robust gender data. We need to be able to track who is funding what, for what purpose, and with what results. Working with Friends of Publish What You Fund, we will use a country-based approach to track the gender-related aid in three countries by the top 3-5 donors to determine what information is available and what is missing.
Tessie San Martin (President & CEO at Plan International USA) and Nora O’Connell (Associate Vice President for Public Policy & Advocacy at Save the Children USA) have written an opinion piece for Devex about the initiative, why the work is needed and why they are supporting it.
DFI Transparency Initiative takes flight
Our work to increase the transparency of development finance institutions (DFIs) is off to a great start; with the support of an expert group of advisors, we have selected the five key focus areas for our work over the next 2.5 years. Rob Mosbacher, former CEO of Overseas Private Investment Corporation, has chaired the first meeting of the Project Advisory Board that will guide the direction of our DFI Transparency Initiative. In a new blog, Gary Forster introduces the selected work streams and members of the advisory group.
And here’s a quick round up of what else we’ve been reading over the past month…
The New Humanitarian has started to compile details of emergency fund announcements for COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Center for Global Development (CGD) have both launched a series of papers and blogs on COVID-19 and its impact on developing countries and the development and humanitarian sectors.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Secretariat has provided initial advice for organisations on publishing data on their activities responding to COVID-19. IATI plans to release detailed publishing guidance on COVID-19 that aligns with other major partners’ reporting on the pandemic shortly.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released the final figures for total Official Development Assistance (ODA) by Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members in 2018. The figures show that total ODA fell in real terms for the second year in a row, down by US$4.1 billion (2.7%) on the net ODA measure and by US$2.5 billion (1.6%) under the new grant equivalent measure. This fall was due to lower spending on In-Donor Refugee Costs (IDRCs), which fell by US$4.2 billion. ODA as a percentage of donors’ Gross National Income (GNI) remained unchanged at 0.31%.
In a Devex opinion piece, Cecilia Caio and Nerea Craviotto examine the OECD 2018 data on aid spending through private sector instruments, (which totalled US$4.6 billion gross). They write that the data does not tell us anything about the impact that aid spending via private sector instruments is having on inequality or poverty, and provides only limited information on additionality. They argue that the current reporting methods have transparency and accountability limitations, and need to be strengthened to ensure the integrity of ODA.
This OECD piece focuses on 2018 gender equality data and points out that DAC members targeted an average of US$49.3 billion per year, corresponding to 42% of their bilateral allocable aid, towards gender equality and women’s equality as either a significant (secondary) or principal (primary) objective. This is higher than ever before. However, support to programmes specifically dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment as their principal objective remains consistently low at 4%.
The ODI has released a new report which analyses the implications of the growth of aid used to mobilise private development finance. It finds that while 69% of ‘conventional’ aid flows to social and humanitarian sectors, only 6% of aid is used to mobilise private finance flow to these same sectors; the majority of aid invested in this way flows to ‘productive’ sectors, such as banking, energy and industry. It also finds that while 40% of ‘conventional’ aid seeks to contribute to gender equality, only 2% of aid invested to mobilise private finance seeks to contribute to this goal.
The World Bank’s board of directors has approved a package of reforms aimed at boosting accountability of its public sector lending. The package includes the creation of a new accountability office and independent dispute resolution service and also extends the timeline for communities to file complaints. Some campaigners have welcomed the changes, but told Devex that more reforms would be needed.
To mark International Women’s Day, Data2X has released a new report, which maps the progress made in closing gender data gaps, highlights what new gaps have emerged, and shares the most promising approaches to closing gender data gaps across six domains of women’s empowerment. You can also see a webinar launching the findings.
A new Development Initiatives study seeks to provide an indicative baseline for multi-year humanitarian funding, analysing data collected directly from Grand Bargain signatories – 11 donors and 10 aid organisations. It finds that between 2016 and 2018, multi-year funding from these donors grew to US$4.8 billion, a 75% increase. In 2018, multi-year funding accounted for 36% of total humanitarian assistance from these donors.
The UK’s International Development Committee has launched a wide-ranging investigation into the effectiveness of UK aid and the Department for International Development (DFID). The investigation will cover five key areas, including accountability of government systems and structures, in line with the broader aims of the integrated review of security, defense, development, and foreign policy. At a recent Committee hearing, Theo Clarke MP referenced Publish What You Fund’s research into UK aid transparency as evidence of DFID being more effective and offering greater value for money than other government departments delivering aid.
In a new blog, CGD’s Charles Kenny asks if the World Bank’s Private Sector Window is making the most of development dollars. He argues that we don’t know enough about how lending decisions are made and calls for greater transparency.
This Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency blog discusses the need for transparency in times of a health emergency. It reflects on the preparedness of fiscal transparency instruments to account for public finance adjustments, as well as to provide useful information in a timely manner—to both government agencies for efficient coordination and decision-making, and the public for policy implementation and accountability.
The Transparency and Accountability Initiative has released research commissioned from MIT Governance LAB that examines how information contributes to accountability. It challenges any remaining assumptions of any easy path from information availability to governments being held to account.
Ania Calderon of Open Data Charter reflects on the role of open government and open data in tackling gender inequality. She says, “We need to move away from the narrative that publishing information is the same as being open. Understanding that there are different gradients to transparency is a start.”
This Devex article explores the debate around ODA rule changes, in light of assistance received for the Australian bush fires.