Aid Transparency Index Improves Development Data
Publish What You Fund: The Global Campaign for Assistance and Development Transparency, an NGO watchdog, created the Aid Transparency Index in 2010 to compare the levels of transparency among aid agencies. Today, it is the only independent measurement for transparency among major development agencies. It aims to improve the efficacy of development assistance by refining the quality of data that donors make public.

How Does it Work?

Donors that are part of the Aid Transparency Index have to meet at least three of four requirements, which are:

  1. The organization has to be in majority public ownership, with one or more governments as shareholders.
  2. Its main purpose must be either to provide development finance and/or aid across the world or to oversee the administration of these resources.
  3. It must play a leading role in setting finance and/or aid policy in its home country, sector or region.
  4. Its budget or resources must be at least $1 billion per year.

The donor’s commitment to transparency is measured by the existence of legislation or disclosure policies, intentions for International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) publication and the promotion of information access, use and re-use.

The Aid Transparency Index takes into account 35 indicators to monitor aid transparency, which have been selected based on the IATI Standard. The Index collects most of its information from organization websites, the IATI Registry or from national data platforms. Two of the 35 indicators collect information from other data sources for assessment purposes.

The 2020 Index

The latest index revealed that there has been a great improvement in the donors’ overall transparency since 2018. More than half of the donors on the list now rank as “good” or “very good.” This results from an increase in data quantity and quality in the IATI Standard, which has made data more centralized and accessible.

Eleven donors are now in the “really good” (meaning in between the “good” and “very good”) category, which constitutes an increase of four from 2018. Also, 15 donors are now in the category of “good,” two more than two years ago. These are the organizations with the highest ranks in the 2020 Aid Transparency Index:

  1. Asian Development Bank (ADB) — Sovereign Portfolio with a ranking of 98.0/100.
  2. World Bank, International Development Association (IDA) with a ranking of 97.1/100.
  3. UNDP with a ranking of 96.6/100.
  4. African Development Bank (AfDB) – Sovereign Portfolio with a ranking of 95.5/100.
  5. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with a ranking of 95.4/100.
  6. UNICEF with a ranking of 92.9/100.
  7. The United States, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) with a ranking of 92.1/100.
  8. Global Fund with a ranking of 86.5/100.
  9. The United Kingdom, Department for International Development (DFID) with a ranking of 85.4/100.
  10. Canada, Global Affairs with a ranking of 80.9/100.

Addressing Shortfalls

Despite these improvements, gaps still exist between donor publications and their projected outcomes. Many organizations publish their objectives, but only a minority also publish information on the projects’ performances and evaluations. As a result, there are limitations to measuring the effectiveness and value of financial spending in development assistance.

So, to further improve development aid data, Publish What You Fund provides a series of recommendations to donor countries. This includes sharing more information on project results, publishing project budget documents and increasing the participation of stakeholders in partner countries. Altogether, this will contribute to building trust and increasing available information.

Why is it Important?

Today, billions of dollars of aid and assistance are going toward addressing the COVID-19 crisis, which highlights the crucial role that aid transparency plays and how it can contribute to better results when it is formalized.

“Aid transparency is a key way to improve the efficiency of resource allocation, coordination of the response, and for donors to learn from one another’s interventions,” says Gary Forster, the CEO of Publish What You Fund. “The Index provides an illustration of what’s possible when transparency is valued and institutionalized.”

Helen Souki
Photo: Flickr

Distribution of International Aid Funds
Established during the 1940s, the United Nations has been responsible for the distribution of international aid funds for decades. As the need for aid increased, the U.N. developed programs to assist in the way they distribute aid across countries in need.

United Nations Refugee Agency

There are four subdivisions, or entities, within the U.N. that regulate the distribution of international aid funds. Following the mission of the U.N., the subdivision, United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), focuses on the well-being of persons identifying as refugees, returnees, stateless people, internally displaced or asylum-seekers. The goal of this subdivision is to ensure the safety and security of those seeking refuge. International aid in this department helps stabilize and rebuild the lives of people forced from the place they call home.

UNICEF and the World Food Programme

There are two entities whose focus is centered around the welfare and well-being of children. History has shown that children displaced by poverty, war, famine or other uncontrollable circumstances, often fare the worst. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) center their international aid efforts around providing food and other services for children and families unable to secure resources in traditional ways. UNICEF helps secure medical resources for countries where hospitals have been destroyed and which have insufficient resources and manpower or where hospitals and medical centers are too far from underserved communities.

UNICEF, however, distributes more than just medical resources. Last year, UNICEF offered mental and psychosocial services to thousands of Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh.

The war-torn country of Yemen illustrates the need for the distribution of international aid to fund programs like WFP. Due to the war, men find it challenging to find work, which makes it difficult for fathers to provide for their children. Without food and proper nourishment, death is often the bleak future for young children, as was the case for a young boy named Mohamed in Hajjah. Shortly after being photographed, he passed away due to malnourishment. WFP works diligently to provide children around the world with food so that stories like Mohamed’s are anomalies, not the norm.

The United Nations Development Programme

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the fourth entity which provides strategies and plans to help implement sustainable change. This subdivision acts as an accountability partner for countries across the world, to ensure that governments are actively participating in the rebuilding and stabilizing efforts being produced through the U.N. The UNDP currently has a strategic plan in action supporting government partnerships with businesses. This three-part plan encourages economy growth within underprivileged communities.

Over 70 years later, the U.N. continues to handle the distribution of international aid funds by helping citizens, families, communities and countries across the globe.

– Christina Taylor
Photo: Flickr