A peek into Bangladesh’s new aid platform

A screencap of Bangladesh’s new aid database. How accurate is it?

In the previous fiscal year ending June 2014, Bangladesh received more than $700 million in aid from its development partners.

But that could’ve been more, if donors were able to meet their $5.35 billion total planned disbursements, according to the country’s newly launched aid database, which further reveals that while grants comprised the majority of disbursements last year, loans now account for the bulk of current aid spending.

But just how accurate is this data?

A government official involved in the management of the Aid Information Management System told Devex the current information in the database actually came from donors themselves. Up to 17 of Bangladesh’s development partners have agreed to manually enter data into the system, which then automatically generates that information and presents it in a more digestible format, like graphs and charts.

The Aid Effectiveness Unit of the Economic Relations Division of Bangladesh under the Ministry of Finance also have focal persons who verify the information with each donor, he said, so accuracy is not so much a problem as sustainability.

“The goal here is to keep the momentum. You see some development partners are very keen to provide information right now in our system, but it’s sustainability and momentum that we need to keep working,” said Rafique Siddique, who underscored this challenge in the long run.

Coming soon

The current database provides a breakdown of every donor’s commitments and disbursements as per Bangladesh’s fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. It also shows a list of ongoing donor-supported projects in the country, including project type, implementing agency and sector.

At present, the biggest share of official development assistance goes to the education and religious affairs sector (28 percent), followed by health, nutrition, and population and family welfare (24.3 percent), rural development (16.8 percent), public administration (14.3 percent) and agriculture (11.4 percent).

But Siddique said more information can be expected in the coming months, as they try to get more partners to enter information into the platform and include donors that may not be major supporters, but channel money to multidonor trust funds.

“We already have a system, but let’s see how far we’ll go,” he said.

The database is meant to help the government plan and budget its resources as it works toward its goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2021. Siddique said the government would like to make optimum utilization of its resources, and remove duplication. But he added that the platform would also be useful to members of the academe and other stakeholders who wish to be informed of the country’s aid spending.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.