An important step towards aid transparency

I was in Paris last week for meetings about aid transparency.  At the International Aid Transparency Initiative meeting, signatories and the Steering Committee members agreed a very important step forward.  Donors comprising more than half of global official aid agreed the details of what will be published under phase one of the IATI initiative.

More details are on the aidinfo.org blog.  In short, the donors agreed

  • Data will be published more quickly, with an agreement that information will be published as soon as possible, and at a minimum, quarterly. More timely information is a top ask of stakeholders in developing countries.
  • Data will be published in a common, open format, so that it is readily accessible, comparable and easy to find.
  • More detailed aid data will be published, increasing its relevance to users.

None of this is going to be easy for donors. It will require some investment in collecting better information and quality assurance, and it will require a significant change of culture as they move to the assumption that the details of all aid projects will be publicly available automatically.  But we know that the benefits hugely exceed these costs.  So kudos to the donors for taking this important first step on the road to comprehensive aid transparency.

Two particular highlights of the meetings from my point of view were:

  • The five country pilots demonstrated the feasibility of automatic electronic data exchange between donors and developing country governments, and for the creation of data in standard IATI format; and
  • The developing country representatives at the meeting were clear and vocal in their insistence that donors should publish details of how they are spending aid.

There is a long way to go, and there is a comprehensive work programme for phases 2 and 3 of IATI.  But last week donors took an extremely important first step for which they deserve credit.

Read more on the aidinfo blog.

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Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development, a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics, and an Associate of the Institute for Government. 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