Measuring aid transparency – why does rigour have to be so rigorous!!
Who would have thought that producing the only independent measure of aid transparency among the world’s major development agencies could be so hard! Work on the Aid Transparency Index 2020 is underway. In this blog, Gary Forster tells his story of getting involved in the sampling of 20,000 documents and data points, the complexity and volume of work involved, and why he’s proud of the rigour.
How effective is UK aid?
The UK’s International Development Committee is currently holding an enquiry into the effectiveness of UK aid. One of the questions being considered is how effective and transparent is the UK aid spent by the Department for International Development (DFID) compared to aid allocated to other government departments and to the cross-government funds. Based on our recent review of the transparency of UK aid, which found that just 3 out of 10 government departments have so far met the UK’s transparency target, we have submitted evidence to the enquiry.
There has been much in the news recently about the transparency of funding being made available in response to COVID-19. Below we have selected some of these stories, as well as a range of other news stories we’ve been reading over the last month.
The International Budget Partnership is hosting a webcast event on 30th April to discuss the effective use of public money and the release of the 2019 Open Budget Survey, an independent comparative measure of central government budget transparency. The event will consider the significance of the survey’s international measure of open, responsive and accountable budgeting as we face a global pandemic that threatens people and economies.
Over 60 civil society organisations have called on the European Commission to make COVID-19 research transparent and accessible. They want public investment in R&D funding for the virus to be conditional on access and affordability for all.
Catalpa has been commissioned by the IATI Data Use Taskforce to explore the opportunities for increasing the communication between data users and publishers, with the primary goal of improving the quality of IATI data. The research is currently underway to understand how feedback on data can best be shared with publishers and lead to improvements in quality.
The World Bank Group (WBG) has agreed to reforms to improve its accountability, transparency, respect for human rights, and environmental, social, and governance risk management. This is the result of negotiations with the US House Financial Services Committee to include a US$5.5 billion capital increase for the WBG’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), in COVID-19 stimulus legislation. The commitments include increased transparency requirements for the IFC’s financial intermediary lending. Financial intermediaries that receive certain types of IFC investments must now annually report the name, location by city, and sector for sub projects funded by the proceeds from IFC’s investments. The IFC will publish the information on its project disclosure portal.
Official Development Assistance (ODA) from members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) totalled US$152.8 billion in 2019, a rise of 1.4% in real terms from 2018, according to preliminary data collected from official development agencies. Bilateral ODA to Africa and least-developed countries rose by 1.3% and 2.6% respectively. Excluding aid spent on looking after refugees within donor countries – which was down 2% from 2018 – ODA rose by 1.7% in real terms. Total ODA in 2019 was equivalent to 0.30% of DAC countries’ combined gross national income, down from 0.31% in 2018 and below a target ratio of 0.7% of ODA to GNI. The 2019 total comprised US$ 149.4 billion in the form of grants, loans to sovereign entities and contributions to multilateral institutions; US$ 1.9 billion to development-oriented private sector instrument vehicles, US$ 1.4 billion in net loans and equities to private companies operating in ODA-eligible countries and US$ 149 million of debt relief.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) has called on the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop a strategy on engaging local civil society in partner countries, arguing that civil society forms the backbone of country ownership and effective development. MFAN has produced four overarching principles for engaging local civil society: promoting civil society participation in priority-setting; strengthening and protecting civic space; investing in local civil society actors; and ensuring an equitable and inclusive approach.
A new IATI Humanitarian Data Portal has been developed by Development Initiatives and Zimmerman as part of the Grand Bargain’s transparency workstream. It allows users to track how signatories are progressing against their data publication transparency commitments under the Grand Bargain, as well as exploring the data they publish to IATI on their humanitarian activities.
Transparency International has published a blog considering the new and old money laundering risks during a pandemic. It asks if COVID-19 provides a perfect storm for corruption and considers why funds should be disbursed and managed transparently.
Somalia has launched an Aid Information Management System (AIMS) portal to publicise information on how donor money is used in a bid to increase transparency for members of the public and the international community.
The Center for Global Development has created a new measure of cross-border, concessional finance that extends beyond OECD countries. It is designed to fill a gap in the measurement of development finance efforts in non-DAC countries.
Data2X recently hosted a virtual book talk with Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein, the authors of “Data Feminism.” Data Feminism offers strategies for data scientists seeking to learn how feminism can help them work toward justice, and for feminists who want to focus their efforts on the growing field of data science.