Aid transparency comes of age – World
On July 13, we launched the 2022 edition of the Aid Transparency Index. It was the Index’s 10th anniversary, and it marked a special moment. For the first time, we are witnessing the flowering of data use cases. We find that various stakeholders, both locally and globally, are using open aid data for research, program design and engagement.
For the launch event, hosted by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships, we brought together a panel of representatives from partner governments, aid agencies, global research institutions and CSOs to share their experience on how the global aid dataset adds value. to their operations.
The panel was moderated by Nadia Daar, Director of Oxfam’s Washington DC office, who opened the discussion by sharing her thoughts on the launch of the first Index in 2012. Nadia reminded us that for advocates, tools like the Indexes are extremely important. exert outside pressure and maintain high standards.
Next was Augustus Flomo, deputy minister in Liberia’s Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. Augustus shared the context in Liberia, which remains a heavily aid-dependent country, and explained his experience of using aid data to understand who was funding what, in which sectors, in his country. Augustus went on to explain how data has not only helped him to better plan Liberia’s public spending, but also how data provides an information base on which he can meet with donor representatives and engage in collaboration around of Liberia’s development priorities.
To offer a different perspective, we were joined by Laura Boehner, Director of Knowledge Management and Technology Services at Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance. Laura started off with a dose of realism by warning that there is a delicate balance between confidentiality and transparency, but she is convinced that there are simple ways to achieve this balance. Laura then also described how Gavi has rigorous processes in place to publish their activity data on a monthly basis and that they encourage their local partners to also publish their data. It is clear from the discussion how Gavi’s efforts put the organization in a strong position to then manage the complex and fast-paced COVAX initiative. Laura explained that “COVAX was unprecedented, and we knew we had to build in transparency from the start because we wanted to show how money was being spent fairly.”
We were then joined by Angela Micah, assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. IHME’s flagship Global Health Financing Report, produced annually, for the first time used data published to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard in the framework of its analysis. Angela explained “IHME takes an in-depth look at global health financing in low-income countries to identify trends and funding levels to influence policy, increase accountability, and make better use of resources. Maybe five years ago, when I last looked at the ITAI dataset, we needed more details about the project, and it wasn’t very comprehensive. But this time we realized we had more information which seemed more complete and of higher quality. We felt more confident using the data. Because IITA data is often more up-to-date than other aid datasets, the IHME team also found it particularly useful for tracking the rapid Covid response.
Last but not least was Adam Sturesson, systems manager at Sida. Adam explained how much time Sida has invested in its data and systems to embed the IATI Open Data Standard in everything it does. Adam said that as a result, they can now resolve quality issues quickly and have confidence in their data. The initial motivation for all this investment was the desire to be accountable to Swedish citizens. Adam explained that Sweden publishes all of its aid data on its open data website so Swedish taxpayers can see where their money is going. But the use case goes far beyond that, with internal stakeholders, including project managers and other departments, also relying on the same data to inform their decisions and enable their work.
The roundtable ended with a series of questions from the audience and a closing comment from our moderator Nadia reminding us that transparency is not an end in itself. It’s about how the data is used and how we can use it to improve our work.
You can watch a recording of the 2022 Aid Transparency Index launch here.
You can view four blogs detailing how global aid data is used in different contexts: