One day, all this will seem very strange

This post is cross-posted on the aidinfo blog.

My colleague Judith Randel has made a very interesting point about aid transparency.

It was not long ago that donors conducted Consultative Group meetings in Paris about their planned aid to each developing country. Representatives of the recipients were not invited (they were subsequently given observer status to some of the meeting). That seems very strange today, as we know that development must be a country-led process. Donors aim to support the plans of developing country governments.

Yet today donors give aid to developing countries without publishing detailed information about what aid they are giving, to whom, for what, and with what effect. You can find out some general information a few years after the event, but the aid relationship is essentially a black box between donors and recipient countries. In a few years time, this will seem just as bizarre as donor-only Consultative Group meetings.

The people of a developing country – citizens, parliamentarians and civil society – have a right to know what is being spent in their country and how resources are being used. That is essential to making sure those resources are properly used, and to building the accountability of governments to their own people. Aid agencies are increasingly coming under pressure from taxpayers to publish details of how aid is spent, and there are some tentative steps towards greater transparency.

Aidinfo is working to ensure that the information is provided in a way that is accessible by, and useful to, the people of developing countries, and not just to donors.

One comment on “One day, all this will seem very strange”

  1. I completely agree. Transparency is essential to limit waste and/or fraud.
    I noticed that the Gates Foundation had been funding AidInfo but when you visit the site of the Gates Foundation you find very little information and often not even a link to the site of the grantee.
    The Gates Foundation does not seem to require public transparency from its grantees while it would be a very strong message worth much more than the million + they (rightfully) awarded to Aidinfo.
    New “best practices” have to be enacted and implemented and if the Gates Foundation was concretely enforcing them that would be a big plus (except -of course- for all the people who benefit from the lack of transparency).

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Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and