Here is our usual monthly round up of news from the aid and development transparency world…
Tracking funding is vital for catalysing women’s economic empowerment
It is now well established that investing in women’s economic empowerment has a catalytic effect in reducing poverty for all people and achieving gender equality. Gains made over the last years, however, have been severely challenged by the impact of COVID-19. In this new blog, Sally Paxton discusses the urgent need for effective investment in women’s economic empowerment, and why limited understanding of who is funding what and with what results is hampering progress.
To help efforts to overcome this barrier, we are launching a new project: “Women’s Economic Empowerment: building evidence for better investments”. We will:
- Track funding to women’s economic empowerment, women’s empowerment collectives and women’s financial inclusion
- Assess the gender intentionality of international donors’ funding approaches
- Use our findings to advocate for more and better funding to women’s economic empowerment, women’s empowerment collectives and women’s financial inclusion at the country and global level.
Webinar: DFI transparency – value of investment: mobilisation & structure of deal
Join us on 17th May (3-4pm BST) to hear about the findings of our DFI Transparency Initiative’s fourth work stream. We have been assessing the transparency of the way that development finance institutions (DFIs) structure the financial aspects of their direct investments. Private sector investment has been posited as an important element in making progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). DFIs thus represent an important component in scaling up the level of investment in developing countries principally through the mobilisation of private finance, and it is important that they clearly communicate the ways in which they do this. Register for the webinar and join the discussion.
Watch now: how transparent is gender equality funding in Kenya, Guatemala and Nepal – and where do we go from here?
You can now catch up on our three recent webinars, discussing the findings of our research into the transparency of gender financing in Kenya, Guatemala and Nepal. The webinars feature panel discussions with representatives from governments, funders and civil society, and consider how gender data could be more useful for gender advocates.
Full details of our research papers, including Nepali, Spanish and Ki’che’ translations, can be found here.
Appointment of two new trustees will bring new skills and experience to our board
We are very pleased to welcome two new trustees to the board of Publish What You Fund. Al Kags and Justine Tordoff bring new skills and experiences that complement our existing board members, and ensure we have a great team to oversee the future direction of the organisation.
Here is a selection of the news stories we’ve been reading this month:
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released preliminary Official Development Assistance (ODA) figures for 2020. They show that ODA from Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members rose to an all-time high of USD 161.2 billion in 2020, up 3.5% in real terms from 2019, boosted by additional spending mobilised to help developing countries grappling with the COVID-19 crisis. Initial estimates indicate that DAC countries spent USD 12 billion on COVID-19 related activities – a mixture of new and re-directed funding; this equated to around 1% of the amount countries have mobilised over the past year in economic stimulus measures to help their own societies recover from the COVID crisis. Of gross bilateral ODA, 22% was in the form of loans and equity investments, up from around 17% in previous years, with the rest provided as grants. The 2020 ODA total is equivalent to 0.32% of DAC donors’ combined gross national income, up from 0.30% in 2019 but below a target of 0.7% ODA to GNI. The rise in the ratio was partly due to falling GNI in most DAC countries.
The UK Government has been criticised for the ‘opaque’ and ‘evasive’ written statement it released on cuts being made to the aid budget by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). As Devex reported, the statement did not outline where deep cuts had been made from previous spending or how money would be spent beyond broad sector classifications, and included only the £8.1 billion FCDO budget and not that of other departments responsible for spending the remaining £2 billion of aid. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab later told the International Development Committee that country-specific plans were still being worked out and said the announcement was made in a fully transparent way. Two hundred UK NGOs condemned the cuts as “a tragic blow for many of the world’s most marginalised people”. Meanwhile, more details of the cuts have emerged in media stories, including 95% cuts to polio funding and 80% cuts for clean water bilateral aid.
Earlier in the month the UK Government published the provisional statistics on how UK aid was spent for 2020. This Bond summary highlights what the figures show and what remains unclear. As planned, the government spent exactly 0.7% GNI on ODA in 2020, which came to £14.5 billion. This is £712 million less than was spent in 2019. The FCDO is the biggest spender of ODA, but also saw the biggest drop in its budget compared to 2019.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is inviting bids to design a virtual training programme for national-level CSOs on how to use IATI data. The deadline for submitting proposals is 7 May.
A report from Pollicy’s Afrofeminist Data Futures looks at how feminist movements in sub-Saharan Africa can be empowered through the production, sharing and use of gender data by mapping over 140 feminist organisations across sub-Saharan Africa. It calls for those who hold the data to ensure that data is shared in a transparent and accountable manner and aligned with feminist principles.
A new paper from the Center for Global Development (CGD), AidData at William & Mary, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics provides the first systematic analysis of the legal terms of China’s foreign lending. The researchers collected and analysed 100 contracts between Chinese state-owned entities and government borrowers in 24 developing countries and compared them with those of other bilateral, multilateral, and commercial creditors. The paper highlights the use of clauses regarding confidentiality, seniority, and policy influence; it says even if these terms were unenforceable in court, they could limit the sovereign debtor’s crisis management options and complicate debt renegotiation.
A new report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) looks at DFI investment, mobilisation and leverage from 2013 to 2018. It finds that ‘green shoots are emerging’, but that collective progress pre-Covid-19 had been slow and is far off the pace and scale as envisioned in the 2015 United Nations Addis Ababa Agenda for Action on Financing for Development. With COVID-19 exacerbating financing gaps and making the work of DFIS more difficult, the report argues for bold action to ensure a course correction – and for DFIs to invest better. The report sets out to increase understanding of why there has been a lack of progress, what has worked and what hasn’t – focusing on four key areas: The Covid-19 crisis response; the relationship between ODA and DFI/Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) investment; DFI and MDB investment in low-income countries; and the need for greater transparency from DFIs and MDBs.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) included procurement and beneficial ownership transparency commitments in the US$100 billion of Emergency support through its rapid credit facility that it provided during the pandemic. This Open Ownership blog examines how effective the IMF commitments were in encouraging good governance and transparency, and the lessons learned. It says that the implementation of the commitments was hit and miss. It concludes that the commitments were an important first step, and the progress made could be even greater if they are strengthened, set a clear bar for governments to aim for and become integrated into wider lending approaches across the organisation.
This New Humanitarian story digs into the funding for a new special purpose vehicle set up to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to prevent famine in Yemen.
CGD has launched a series of papers on health, social protection, and women’s economic empowerment as part of its COVID-19 Gender and Development Initiative. This blog questions if MDBs are doing enough to close the gender gaps exacerbated by the pandemic. Based on a review of all 195 projects approved by the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Asian Development Bank from March to December 2020, it states that the MDBs clearly recognise the opportunity they have to support COVID-19 recovery projects that will help end long-standing gender inequalities in economic standing and broader well-being. Across the board, MDB projects have a stronger focus on gender than national level COVID-19 response policies. One of the recommendations is that governments and donors should monitor and evaluate the benefits of COVID-19 mitigation and recovery measures on women and girls, as well as strengthen broader data systems to ensure they reflect women’s and girls’ lived realities.