The next transparency challenge for US aid agencies: Moving from publication to engagement
Sally Paxton of Publish What You Fund and George Ingram of Brookings Institution reflect on the performance of the five US donors in the 2020 Aid Transparency Index, and the next steps needed to improve their transparency and accountability. In this blog, they also lay down the challenge of how we move towards the more important goals of doing development differently. They argue that data should be a tool for engagement with partner countries and civil society so that we are enabling local decisionmaking and ownership
Watch now: Findings from the first DFI Transparency Initiative work stream
Over the past eight months, we have been working collaboratively with Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and other stakeholders to increase the transparency of DFIs. Our DFI Transparency Initiative team recently hosted a webinar to discuss the findings of our first work stream, focusing on basic project information. This incorporates all of the fundamental information about an investment or project by a DFI. It represents the fundamental building blocks from which other forms of transparency, including those addressed in later work streams, are built. You can watch a recording of the webinar and download our slides . We have also produced a working paper summarising the findings from this work stream, which can be downloaded here.
Donor data transparency: Accountability towards aid recipients
In the latest of our Aid Transparency Index blogs, Isabelle Kermeen of Integrity Action asks where aid recipients are in the conversation about aid transparency and data engagement. She reflects on the need for aid recipients to know where the money is coming from and influence the agenda of
Aid for gender equality: Ten-year trends the development community should know
Our gender financing project team has been analysing new data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) to identify trends in donors’ combined aid spending towards gender equality. In a new blog, Jamie Holton examines the data from the last ten years to show how much and in what ways donors have – or have not – funded gender equality, and provides an animated visualisation of the trends. Our gender financing study will examine whether reported gender funding data reflects the reality of gender work on the ground, by focusing on three case studies: Kenya, Nepal, and Guatemala.
How do we use the Index to encourage transparency?
The recently launched 2020 Aid Transparency Index illustrates the balance needed between competition and co-operation for driving transparency. As a tool the Index is quite simple, we encourage the world’s major aid organisations to be more transparent by scoring and ranking their published aid data. In this blog, Elma Jenkins digs into how the Index works and how it drives transparency, with some insights on how donors made improvements during the Index process.
Watch now: Humanitarian transparency research webinar
Over the past 18 months, we’ve been researching the information needs of humanitarian actors on the ground and the challenges they face in accessing and using data. We recently launched a series of reports setting out our findings and recommendations. We also held a webinar discussing the Grand Bargain and transparency agenda, our research project, and our next steps – it’s now available online to watch again.
Here’s a selection of news stories we’ve been reading over the last month.
A new Eurodad briefing paper looks at the initial responses to Covid-19 of the main bilateral providers of Official Development Assistance (ODA). It finds these responses are significant, representing roughly 20 percent of total bilateral ODA. However, it remains unclear to what extent these resources can be considered as ODA and whether they are in fact additional to the resources that had been committed before the start of the pandemic. The paper makes the case for an urgent upscaling of ODA as part of a more comprehensive, systemic multilateral response. The paper also looks at a number of key trends that undermine the quality of ODA and risk being exacerbated by donor responses to Covid-19 – including the use of loans v grants, development effectiveness and DFIs, and debt relief.
This World Bank blog asks what would the world look like if all development data were as timely as COVID-19 case data. It examines how timely data enables governments to respond quickly, and argues that to have timely development data we need to invest heavily in statistical capacity and national data systems. The blog also discusses the unprecedented global appetite for data during the current pandemic, and the political and financial support this has generated for the supply of data.
The UK’s International Development Committee (IDC) has published its final report into the effectiveness of UK aid, raising concerns about the lack of consultation around the rushed merger of the Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office – which it says is likely to be costly and disruptive. The IDC states that “the Government’s future aid strategy must be transparent and value for money, and it is imperative that there are robust scrutiny mechanisms in place.” It recommends that “the Government should set out how it intends to ensure that ODA administered through the new FCDO meets high standards for transparency in its programming. Consequently, it should commit to all UK ODA funding meeting the transparency standard of ‘good’ within the next year.”
Development Initiatives has launched the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2020, providing a detailed picture of needs and financing during 2019, and analysis of crisis funding for the COVID-19 response. It shows that the humanitarian system was already under huge strain with increased needs and a fall in funding. Now this strain is compounded by exceptional demands from COVID-19.
An Associated Press story covered in the New York Times uses analysis by Development Initiatives to look at funding commitments of the world’s top government donors, which have dropped by a third compared to the same period last year. According to the analysis, during the first five months of this year, overall aid commitments from the largest government donors were $16.9 billion, down from $23.9 billion in the same period last year. While bilateral commitments have fallen, the report says that the largest multilateral organizations including the World Bank and the Global Fund have committed $48.8 billion this year, 70% greater than the same period last year. Meanwhile, as of the end of June, UN-coordinated calls for aid for this year were up 25% from last year because of additional needs created by the pandemic, reaching more than $37 billion.
The Center for Global Development has produced a new primer on how Chinese development assistance works, designed to help recipient countries understand Chinese aid management and structures. It provides an overview of the creation of China’s International Development Cooperation Agency and the impacts of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The latest Donor Tracker Insights piece focuses on donor finance for women’s economic empowerment initiatives. It analyzes existing research and newly released 2018 OECD data to assess how donor countries are approaching and, in many cases, falling short on, efforts to empower women economically
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Secretariat has shared an examination of the COVID-19 data published so far to IATI. It has also shared analysis and next steps on how publishers can increase the quality & usefulness of this COVID-19 data.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) has applauded the US House Appropriations Committee for passing its Fiscal Year 2021 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill, with a robust level of funding, including a new investment of $10 billion to respond to COVID-19 globally. MFAN also commends the committee for including significant bill language to reassert congressional control of foreign assistance spending, to curb the use of last-minute rescissions. The bill also includes important report language to improve transparency and accountability at the Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and to reassert the importance of the DFC’s development mandate.
The ONE Campaign has launched the Real Aid Index 2020, which assesses each UK government department that spends more than £50 million of aid and their top 3-5 programmes, against the principles set out in the ONE Campaign’s Real Aid Charter. It calls on the newly formed Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) to prioritise aid programmes which deliver value for money, and states that aid should be focused on ending extreme poverty and spent effectively and transparently.
This Devex article looks into the €6.15 billion committed at the European Commission-led COVID-19 pledging summit at the end of June. It describes how €4.9 billion — mostly in the form of loans — came from the European Investment Bank – money that had already been announced in April.
Meanwhile, this Devex piece describes mixed results for development in the recent EU budget deal. EU leaders agreed to add a €750 billion pandemic recovery fund to a €1.07 trillion budget for 2021-2027. However, €10.5 billion for development funding and €5 billion for humanitarian aid that were proposed by the commission as part of the pandemic recovery package in May disappeared. €70.8 billion was allocated to the budget’s main development tool, a reduction of 10.4% compared with the first proposal from the commission in May 2018.