Welcome to our latest monthly roundup of news from the aid and development transparency world.
Where is the money for care?
Register now for our parallel event at the NGO CSW 66 Forum
Wednesday 16 March 2022, 8:00am GMT
This event will focus on forthcoming research from our Women’s Economic Empowerment project, that tracks international funding aimed at reducing women’s unpaid care burden. We will highlight which policy areas are receiving international funding support, who is funding care and where gaps exist in Kenya, Nigeria and Bangladesh. A panel including Wangari Kinoti (ActionAid International) and Crystal Simeoni (Nawi Afrifem Macroeconomic Collective) will discuss feminist macroeconomic approaches and policies needed to put care at the centre of economies and lead to its just redistribution. Running parallel to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the NGO CSW Forum organises events that inform, engage and inspire grassroots efforts and advocacy needed to empower women and girls.
Transparency of financial information: The key to increasing development flows
In the latest blog of our series on development finance institutions (DFIs), Paul James discusses the DFI Transparency Tool’s fourth component – financial information. He argues that improved disclosure of both mobilisation and concessionality is critical to scaling up financial flows in support of the Sustainable Development Goals and achieving development impact.
“If shareholders are to direct DFIs to better target investments or sectors where mobilisation is greatest, the private sector are to accompany DFIs in investments in emerging markets, and taxpayers are to support the use of scarce development capital, it is critical that DFIs are transparent about their deployment of concessional funds and their mobilisation of private finance.”
It’s time for the UK government to change track on aid transparency
In the wake of the resignation of Lord Agnew, the minister responsible for open government, the UK has published its latest Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, with the glaring omission of several commitments, including an Aid Transparency Commitment and without civil society support. In this blog, Elma Jenkins discusses why this represents the latest in a series of missed opportunities by the government to change track on transparency, make essential reforms, enhance public trust and ensure accountability.
Here’s a selection of news stories we’ve been reading over the last few weeks:A study by Dan Honig and others analyses a new data set on the performance of approximately 20,000 aid projects financed by 12 donor agencies in 183 countries, and finds that enforcement of access to information (ATI) policies matters. The adoption of ATI policies by agencies is associated with better project outcomes when these policies include independent appeals processes for denied information requests but with no improvement when they do not. The researchers also found that project staff adjust their behaviour in anticipation of ATI appeals, and that the performance dividends of appeals processes increase when bottom-up collective action is easier and mechanisms of project oversight are weak.
A new report on the COVID-related spending of international financial institutions finds a concerning lack of transparency on how these funds were spent and serious doubts on whether they have reached those who needed them the most. The report, based on a series of global and national level case studies, was developed by members and partners of the Coalition for Human Rights in Development. The report says that many of the warnings of corruption, increased inequality, and mounting debt have materialised, and it points to recommendations for current and future crisis financing.
Former Chief Advisor to the Secretary General of the OECD, Stephen Cutts has submitted a letter and paper to the Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) highlighting serious flaws in their “Grant Equivalence” methodology for assessing the Official Development Assistance (ODA) in loans. Cutts contends that the OECD-DAC’s methodology is not only misleading OECD taxpayers, but is also having extremely serious negative consequences in the areas of climate financing and in fuelling an emerging debt crisis. The paper also offers some recommendations.
The Bretton Woods Committee’s Sovereign Debt Working Group has released a new paper calling for greater debt transparency. The paper addresses the lack of transparency within the sovereign debt system, how the current system disincentivises transparency for both borrowers and lenders, and presents actionable solutions with which stakeholders can begin pursuing a transparency agenda.
The Center for Global Development has published a study of infrastructure finance in Africa. It found that China’s development banks lent more than twice as much for public-private infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa as the US, Germany, Japan, and France’s DFIs combined.
The study also found no sustained upward trends in overall sub-Saharan African public-private infrastructure finance, finance from multilateral development banks, private finance, the share or volume of local private finance, participation by international institutional investors, or finance from bilateral lenders. Despite much rhetoric about using public finance to attract large amounts of private infrastructure investment in sub-Saharan Africa, overall public-private infrastructure investment remains stuck at around US$ 9 billion a year.
The European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) has joined CSOs from across the world in calling on the OECD-DAC to drop all plans to report the donations of excess Covid-19 vaccines as aid. The committee initially failed to agree on a plan on how to report such donations, following months of discussions. The OECD DAC Chair later issued a statement and guidance note addressing how excess vaccine donations could be reported in 2021, encouraging DAC donors to use US$ 6.72 as a reference price for each dose donated. Eurodad estimates, based on available data from Canada, the UK and the EU and its Member States, for 2021 the use of this reference price could lead to these countries alone counting at least US$ 1.7 billion as ODA for donated excess vaccine doses. However, donors could also decide to report them at another price.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) has launched the second phase of its Data Quality Index consultation. IATI is seeking views on its proposed methodology between now and mid-June.
OCHA Centre for Humanitarian Data has published The State of Open Humanitarian Data 2022, which reports steady progress in closing data gaps across most humanitarian operations. The report estimates that 69% of relevant, complete crisis data is available across 27 humanitarian operations. If the data that is relevant but incomplete is included, the total is 89%. Also included in the report is an assessment of the data required for modelling, specifically for developing anticipatory action trigger mechanisms, with examples from Ethiopia, Malawi, Nepal and the Philippines.
A study led by the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, has found that nearly half of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations missed out on the first round of grants for adaptation projects from the UN’s Green Climate Fund (GCF). According to this Carbon Brief story, African nations were particularly badly affected, with no money going to projects in 13 of the 30 “least developed” states across the continent. The researchers examined the US$ 2.5 billion in adaptation finance provided between 2015 and 2019 to 84 of the 154 countries that are eligible for GCF funds, and highlighted a lack of detailed prioritisation and issues of access.
This article from the International Accountability Project (IAP) sets out what it has learned from two years of tracking COVID-19 financing. According to IAP, fast-tracking financing by development banks meant that projects were proposed and approved with shorter preparation times, often less environmental and social due diligence, and with substantial limitations on stakeholder consultations — that is, communities were less likely to be meaningfully consulted or provided clear opportunities for engagement. In response to gaps in transparency, the IAP and its partners have tracked the responses and activities of the development banks monitored by the Early Warning System. From 1 January 2020 to 31 January 2022, the Early Warning System has published and shared information on over 1,530 known investments proposed by the largest and most influential development banks as part of their operational COVID-19 response — a total of at least US$ 167 billion across 136 countries.