How transparent is global aid now? – One month until the launch of the 2020 Aid Transparency Index
This time next month we’ll be joined by friends and colleagues from across the globe as we announce the results of the 2020 Aid Transparency Index. At this time of global pandemic, the transparency of aid remains critically important: for holding donors to account, for tracking spending and ensuring aid gets to where it is needed. We wanted to take this moment to reflect on what we learnt from the last Index, and where we go from here.
Looking back to the 2018 Index
During the 2018 Index launch the message was clear. Firstly there was positive news that we were seeing unprecedented amounts of timely aid and development data being made available by donors in an open and comparable format. And there was a recognition that to improve effectiveness and be accountable to their constituencies, all aid and development actors, regardless of their business model or size, could share quality information on their work – as evidenced by good scores from diverse organisations including Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), multilateral organisations such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and humanitarian agencies, such as the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EC-ECHO).
However, the 2018 Index also highlighted that too many organisations were still failing on basic data quality issues such as project titles, descriptions and dates – undermining the usability of published data. Also, despite donors’ focus on setting targets, demonstrating results and ‘value for money’, the performance component in the 2018 Index contained the most severe data gaps. Collectively, donors only scored 27% on average for the performance component. This component includes pre-project impact appraisals, reviews and evaluations, and results. These were the three least published indicators. For example, only 15 organisations published results on their current projects. Without access to this information, donors, partner country governments and CSOs cannot monitor projects effectively, assess whether objectives were met or learn from them.
In the 2018 Index report we made it clear that more needed to be done on impact transparency, and highlighted that some large donors just aren’t pulling their weight in other areas of their publication – we’ll soon be announcing how they’ve responded to these challenges.
Looking forward to the 2020 Index
As I write our research team is putting the finishing touches to the 2020 Index report. The data collection and analysis phase has been completed with the support of 38 independent peer reviewers. Across the 47 agencies we’ve manually sampled tens of thousands of documents to check that they meet the necessary criteria.
We added two organisations to the donor list for this year’s Index, joining the 45 donors included in the 2018 Index. These are Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) and TIKA the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency. The inclusion of these two agencies reflects the rise of south-south donors. As the structure of the global economy continues to be reconfigured, emerging economies are increasingly playing a role on the international stage as aid donors.
The 2020 Index continues to reflect the diversity of international aid donors. It features a cross-section of different types of development actors, while holding them to the same transparency standards. Of the donors selected 15 are multilaterals; 30 are bilateral donors; there are three humanitarian agencies (ECHO, UN OCHA and KSRelief) and one philanthropic foundation (the Gates Foundation).
The 2020 Aid Transparency Index will be launched on 24th June at 10.00am EDT, 3.00pm BST. Our virtual launch event will give you the opportunity to discover how transparent the 47 major aid and development agencies are, learn who has topped the Index and consider the next steps for transparency and accountability. We’ll be joined by an expert panel to discuss the results of the 2020 Index and its implications for the future of aid transparency. You will also hear about the evolution of our thinking as we consider the findings of our other initiatives on gender data, humanitarian data and DFI transparency and think about how we may all need to adapt our approach to aid transparency if we want to realise further gains in development effectiveness and accountability.
Registration details will follow in the coming weeks. Please keep the time free in your diary and get ready to join the online discussion using the hashtag #2020Index. We look forward to seeing you there!