By Elma Jenkins, Publish What You Fund, and Rolf Kleef, consultant data sharing and online collaboration
In the second of our blog series exploring tools to help you access aid and development data we are putting a spotlight on portals that provide country or institution specific data. Several publishers of International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data have built their own portals with information taken directly from their IATI data and sometimes combining this with data and information from other sources.
In our previous post we introduced the IATI data well as a source of information about development activities from over 1,500 publishers worldwide. We also introduced a few tools including those offered by the IATI Secretariat to help you explore this data.
Now we will highlight a few publisher owned portals, grouping them into four categories in order of increasing complexity and detail. We start with tools that provide a high-level overview followed by those with more detailed information. Then we look at portals combining multiple sources and end with portals tailored for specific analysis or reporting. We will finish with our view of what makes for a useful, accessible portal and provide a list of all the portals we currently know of.
The portals listed below can be useful to explore agency and organisation specific data. Often the most comprehensive portals are run on IATI data.
Portals providing an aggregated overview
These portals focus on a high-level overview of the data, and sometimes combine IATI data with other data sets. Users will have to do more work to explore project and programme details.
- Finland’s portal provides general aggregate information but does not seem up-to-date or forward-looking. Several aggregates across, for example, recipient countries, aid types and sectors are available with some access to project level data. However, there are no results or documents and users can only see one project at a time with very few filtering options.
- The Asian Development Bank has a general purpose “data library” that brings together multiple datasets and offers several dashboards and data stories that offer more aggregated views for additional context. If you want to look at details of a single project you need to go through a specific dataset. Projects are organised under country datasets and under a single grouping of sovereign projects as well.
Portals showcasing an organisation’s own portfolio
Some organisations provide access to a detailed breakdown of their own portfolio of projects. Their target audience often seems to be their home country population and sometimes the project information is available in local languages.
- The African Development Bank portal is available in English and French, including most of the general project information. The projects often include result indicators and documents relevant for the project. However, detailed downloads are not available.
- Sweden’s aid portal is highly interactive and visual with historic and current data for SIDA (Sweden’s primary aid agency) as well as other government agencies.
Portals with Information from multiple organisations
Some organisations have built portals which go beyond displaying and accessing their own data by letting users access IATI data from other organisations as well.
- The United States Foreign Assistance portal is a world leading data portal. It includes obligation and disbursements data for 24 US agencies disaggregated to activity level and with advanced query and filtering options. Crucially, the portal also has a section ‘Beyond USG’ which lets users look at country-level data beyond the US, to include all other IATI reporting organisations and therefore providing more context to their work.
- The EU Aid Explorer covers the major EU aid agencies: INTPA, ECHO and NEAR although these are grouped under one ‘EU institutions’ funder. Data can also be disaggregated by funding from EU member states and searched and filtered down to project level. Activities are also mapped to the SDGs and can be viewed by the recipient countries, the sectors and the receiver organisations (called channels). Users can choose between more real-time and forward-looking IATI data, or verified and more historical OECD-DAC data as a source.
Portals integrated in an organisation’s workflows
The Dutch government offers a few portals that are tailored for specific reporting and analysis.
- Netherlands portal: This development cooperation portal presents the results of the previous year, including context, interpretation and highlighting of key results, grouped by SDG. It also has historical data and details of all projects which are updated monthly based on the Netherlands IATI publication and features links to the documents of development partners funded by the Dutch government. There is also a link to the official budget as determined by Parliament. The portal is part of the annual report to Parliament, and replaces the paper/PDF version that used to be produced every two years.
- Data dashboards METIS and CSO partnership: Through these two dashboards the Dutch government, partner organisations, and the public can monitor real time data on activities and results for ongoing activities. Organisations receiving funding (directly or via partners) from the Dutch government are required to report their progress via IATI. These dashboards are also used within the government to monitor progress. Making these dashboards publicly available lets organisations verify their reports are correct, and allows for discussions on data quality issues or improvements. This is especially useful for lead organisations in partnerships, as they can also see how the data from other partners is included.
What we like in a portal
At Publish What You Fund, we have a lot of experience of reviewing and scoring these portals as part of the Aid Transparency Index. We focus on four features which a portal should have to be accessible to data users:
The portal should:
- provide an overview of the data and ways to drill down into disaggregated details, including disaggregation of finance data
- have good visuals and be easy to understand and filter
- have an option to download data for further analysis, with various aggregations
- Ideally should be run on IATI data. This also means data should be published under an open licence, and be current and up to date
Available publisher portals
Below is a comprehensive list of data portals from the major aid organisations which we are aware of. Have you seen a portal which is not listed here? Let us know so we can keep up to date!
|African Development Bank||https://projectsportal.afdb.org/|
|Asian Development Bank||https://data.adb.org/|
In our next blog in this series, we will explore programmable tools which give users a more tailored approach to accessing IATI data.