Most major aid agencies are now transparent, but for how long?
2022 Aid Transparency Index highlights a decade of progress and a new threat to the global data set
The 2022 Aid Transparency Index highlights:
- The African Development Bank’s sovereign portfolio tops the Index this year, one of ten organisations scoring “very good”, including the World Bank, US Millennium Challenge Corporation, UNICEF and Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance.
- Ten years of effort have produced a global data set that can be used for a range of important purposes.
- The majority of the agencies in the Index now publish good quality aid data. 31 organisations, the highest number to date, now score “very good” or “good”.
- This 10th anniversary report contains a stark warning about the deterioration in quality of data between editions of the Aid Transparency Index.
The 2022 Aid Transparency Index reveals that more aid organisations than ever before are publishing good quality information and score “very good” or “good” in the global ranking. However, the whole data set could be under threat as the Aid Transparency Index, the only tool driving tangible improvements in data quality, is set to close for lack of funding.
Produced by Publish What You Fund, the Index is the only independent measure of aid transparency among the world’s major aid donors. At a time of climate, hunger, health and debt crises, and some worrying trends in the way official development assistance (ODA) is counted, transparency is more important than ever.
All but four of the 50 organisations assessed in 2022 are now publishing standardised data for their aid activities, meaning that data about the policies and activities of most of the world’s major aid organisations are available from a central registry in a format that is open, comparable, timely and machine readable. Over the ten years of running the Index, Publish What You Fund has seen how pressure and vigilance need to be maintained for standards to remain high. The organisations assessed in the 2022 Index published a total of 147,319 aid activities that were current in 2021 and included transaction data totalling US$221.7bn in commitments and US$154.6bn in disbursements and expenditure over the course of the year.
Improvements in the timeliness and quality of aid data, coupled with advances in tools and dashboards to enable easier access and analysis, have led to a dramatic rise in use of the data for activities as diverse as tracking global health finance investments, monitoring Covid spending, and helping recipient government’s track flows alongside their national spending.
Four US agencies were included in the 2022 Aid Transparency Index. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is the best performing US agency and the best performing bilateral in the 2022 Index, coming in the “very good” category with an overall score of 92.0 out of 100. Showing significant progress is the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which jumped nine points from the 2020 Index and moved up to the “good” category. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) remained in the “good” category but dropped 12 points, while the Department of State dropped into the “fair” category, with a score of 58.0.
Gary Forster, CEO of Publish What You Fund, said:
“It’s a bittersweet moment; more agencies than ever scoring good or very good, more examples of data being used to inform better development policy, and yet the Index, which has driven all of these improvements over the last decade, is facing closure. There isn’t a backup option. This isn’t a drill. The evidence shows that without the incentive which the Index provides, or the feedback it offers to agencies, the quality of the global dataset deteriorates precipitously. We implore agencies and foundations to step up, invest in the Aid Transparency Index, and maintain this momentum so that all stakeholders have access to high quality aid data now and into the future.”
Alex Tilley, who researched and authored the report, draws attention to some specific messages captured in the 2022 Index:
“It is notable that non-sovereign portfolios of development finance institutions (DFIs) were less transparent and scored significantly lower than their sovereign portfolios. The difference in average scores was 25 points. We’ll be focusing on improving DFI transparency in coming years. Furthermore, almost all organisations need to improve their impact data. We noted in 2020 that the majority of the organisations failed to consistently publish results and evaluations and we’ve seen almost no progress in this area.”
The Index website provides details of the scores and analysis of the performance of each donor.
The 2022 Aid Transparency Index will be launched at a hybrid event hosted by the European Commission, DG International Partnerships (DG INTPA) on Wednesday 13 July at 9:30am EDT, 2:30pm BST, 3:30pm CEST. Register for the event here.