Here is our monthly roundup of news, events and blogs from the aid and development transparency world.
Learn how to track gender financing with our video tutorial series
Which gender equality projects are being funded, where, with what aims and crucially, with what results? Find out how to use IATI and OECD data to get the answers you want in our video series.
The Gender Financing Project has just produced a series of four short video tutorials to help gender advocates navigate and track funding for gender equality projects. The videos will help you track gender financing from international donors, using IATI and OECD data.
To make our videos more accessible, each video includes the option for English closed captions [CC], as well as subtitles in French, Spanish, and Nepali.
Shrouded in secrecy: UK Aid cuts are happening behind closed doors
We recently joined Bond and Development Initiatives to call for transparency around how the UK government is cutting its aid programmes. We’re warning that decisions are being taken behind closed doors without proper scrutiny or consultation, which poses a serious threat to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Our CEO Gary Forster, said: “With the potential cut in UK aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI on the horizon, and given that the UK has consistently been such a global leader in aid transparency, it’s truly shocking how the cuts last year unfolded and how little we know about what’s happening this year.”
Webinar: DFI Transparency Initiative – findings on ESG and accountability to communities
Join us on Thursday 11th February 3pm GMT to discuss the transparency of development finance institutions (DFIs). We will be focusing on the latest findings from our DFI Transparency Initiative (work stream 3) on environment, social and governance (ESG) and accountability to communities. This work stream focuses on two key themes:
- It analyses the ways in which DFIs measure and manage ESG outcomes and which standards are being reported to.
- It assesses the transparency of accountability mechanisms including the occurrence and reporting of community consultations, the accessibility of independent accountability mechanisms (IAMs) and the availability of information regarding ongoing or settled disputes.
Data diary: Swechchha Dahal on Nepal’s gender agenda through different lenses
In the third in our Gender Financing Project’s Data Diary series, Swechchha Dahal shares her experiences, and insights gained during the interviews for the project, on the need for greater collaboration and engagement between government and civil society organizations (CSOs). She discusses how better evidence is needed for CSO advocacy and government accountability – and why this is important for gender equality. The blog is also available in Nepali.
Movement on transparency at the Development Finance Corporation
The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) recently invited public comments on its draft transparency policy and draft policy on public engagement by the DFC Board of Directors. The draft policies are a step in the right direction, but additional actions can be taken to improve the transparency and accessibility of the DFC’s data. George Ingram and Sally Paxton highlight steps that could help the DFC reach its commitment to be the gold standard for transparency among development finance institutions.
Watch now on IATI Connect
And finally, to learn more about our Aid Transparency Index and our current review of the Index assessment and scoring approach, watch this short video from CEO Gary Forster on IATI Connect.
Here’s a selection of news stories we’ve been reading over the last few weeks:
A briefing paper from the Overseas Development Institute sets out the key questions facing the humanitarian sector in relation to responsible data sharing with donors, accountability, transparency and data protection.
A policy paper from the Center for Global Development considers the pressures on Official Development Assistance (ODA) and what might be done about it. The paper highlights three pressures: ODA/Gross National Income (GNI) ratio targets threaten ODA budgets when GNI is falling in many donor countries; flawed new rules on scoring debt relief as ODA will lead to large-scale double-counting just as debt relief looks more likely; and the increasingly-blurred boundary between global public goods and traditional ODA may allow the former to displace the latter. The authors recommend that the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) rolls back its new debt relief rules, considers an additional target tier for “beyond ODA” spend on global public goods, and commits to greater transparency and developing country participation in its financial metric-setting processes.
A new anti-corruption study from the University of Sussex, the Central European University, Hungary, and University of Waikato, New Zealand provides strong evidence that reforming public procurement to protect aid money is a cornerstone in stemming corruption in development aid. The study provides reassurance that the controls that donors may insist upon can be effective at preventing money going astray, but donor controls should not be one-size-fits-all – different controls are needed in different contexts. The research team analysed a huge data set relating to all major contract awards of World Bank-financed projects for the fiscal years 1998-2013.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is holding its 2021 Blended Finance and Impact week from 1st to 4th February. The online discussion series will cover a number of topics, under the theme of delivering the 2030 agenda in the COVID-19 era and beyond. Our CEO Gary Forster will be speaking on day three of the event, discussing transparency and impact.
New research from Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland and the University of Konstanz, Germany, shows that democratic sanctions by the European Union and the United States are more likely to have a positive effect when aid flows to civil society rather than the government. Conversely, aid channeled through the public sector mitigates the generally positive effect of sanctions on democracy. The study is based on data from the EUSANCT Dataset on economic sanctions, merged with disaggregated OECD aid data and V-Dem democracy scores.
Open Data Watch has launched the 2020/21 Open Data Inventory (ODIN). Its purpose is to provide an objective and reproducible measure of the availability of official statistics that meet the definition of open data. Now in its fifth year, ODIN measures changes over time as well as differences between countries, regions, and income groups.
A survey of 27 United Nations bodies by eyeonglobaltransparency.net has found that about half of UN agencies hold closed meetings of their key decision-making bodies, and only 14 of the 27 UN organisations have freedom of information (FOI) policies. However, virtually all UN agencies perform positively when it comes to “proactive disclosure” – revealing agendas and documents in advance of meetings and issuing minutes and documents after meetings.
A blog from the Overseas Development Institute discusses ways to allocate aid to where it is most needed to maximise impact. But agreeing on which countries are most in need of aid is not straightforward, and so the author proposes a new approach to measure need, not simply GDP per person. The author also calls for more openness about how need is being assessed, and a transparent debate on how this should be done.
New research from the Association for Women’s Rights and Development (AWID) concludes that women’s rights organizations and feminist movements continue to be systematically under resourced. The research analysed the budgets of feminist organisations using the database of the Global Fund for Women (GFW), one of the leading global feminist funds. Of the 3,739 feminist and women’s rights organisations from the Global South that applied for funding with the GFW between 2015 and 2019, almost half (48%) operated on median annual budgets of $30,000 or less. This compares to the average budget of women’s rights organisations in AWID’s last major report in 2013 which was $20,000. AWID argues that this lack of funding is impeding the progress necessary to advance gender equality.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has resisted appeals from its wealthiest donors to conduct an independent investigation into alleged corruption and mismanagement by UN personnel and consultants working on a controversial environmental project in Russia aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change, according to this Foreign Policy article.
A new report from the Development Policy Centre analyses publicly available data on Australian aid flows. It summarises the four key findings from the report as:
- While most donors have become more generous, Australia has become less (Australia is the OECD-DAC donor whose ODA/GNI ratio fell the most since the early 1970s.)
- Australia focuses well on gender and women’s empowerment
- Australia is not doing enough to help Pacific countries with climate change adaptation
- Australia doesn’t fragment aid too much across recipients
A briefing paper from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Transparency in the Extractive Industry illustrates how practitioners should think and work more politically when deploying transparency tools to ensure it has the greatest impact.
The UK’s International Development Committee, a cross-party group of politicians responsible for scrutinising development spending and policy on behalf of parliament, will not now be closed. As this Devex article reports, the UK government made the announcement late last year, following a period of uncertainty when the Department for International Development was merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.