Ever wondered where that money you donated went? The U.S. government, in partnership with USAID, has made a commitment to track international aid to more closely monitor sources of aid abroad and hold international leaders accountable for development. Up-to-date, truthful data about where international funds are going helps governments, civil service organizations and private sponsors track their money and increase the efficacy of donations.
The government recently signed on to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), an international organization that encourages NGOs, governments and international aid organizations to report data on foreign aid spending. This group estimates that $4.8 billion of EU-given aid, $2.8 billion U.S.-given aid and $13.8 billion in international donor aid was not visible. The initiative aims to have 80 percent of aid be visible; this amount, it estimates, will make the aid useful. This makes development easier to track and organizations more transparent in how they use their funds. It will encourage further donations and trust in the work of these organizations. Furthermore, IATI has developed a tool to compare spending by different aid groups and the amount of money going to different countries.
Anyone with Internet connection can now track the U.S. government’s aid efforts by country, sector and year on www.foreignassistance.gov.
Through this initiative, USAID has made a commitment to increasing its transparency in regards to foreign aid spending. Through developing a cost management plan, the organization upped its accountability and made it clear to donors where their money goes. As a result of this, USAID’s Aid Transparency Review jumped 20 points in the last year, from the “fair” category to the “good” one. The organization predicts improved donor understanding and confidence in its future projects and improvement in international development through its and other organizations’ efforts at increased accountability.
Progress does not end at transparency, however. USAID hopes to improve the knowledge base of its donors so that they can better understand the organization’s international efforts, understand where funds are going and hold governments, both those donating and accepting aid, accountable.
Through initiatives like these, international aid can become more sustainable, efficient and successful.
– Jenny Wheeler