NGOs Press Donors on Aid Transparency Standard

Some of the world’s largest civil society organizations urge the U.S. and other donors to support a global standard for reporting aid information. Photo by: USAID / CC BY-NC-ND USAIDCC BY-NC-ND

Civil society representatives from around the globe are urging donors to support a global aid transparency standard, which they say is key to ensuring effective aid delivery.

Members of the International Aid Transparency Initiative’s steering committee and representatives of the initiative’s 18 signatories were set to meet July 7 in Paris to agree on the scope of an international standard for disclosing and publishing aid information. Two observers, from France and the U.S., were also expected to attend.

In letters sent to key donor countries and international organizations, 35 NGOs urges participants of the meeting to agree on a standard that provides for the following:

- Up-to-date information on current aid flows to back improved aid information management.

- Information on future aid flows to help donors, NGOs and aid recipients plan and budget spending.

- Using common definitions and formats that are compatible with partner countries’ budgets and systems, when publishing aid information.

The 35 NGOs include four members of the IATI steering committee, namely Better Aid, International Budget Partnership, Transparency International and Publish What You Fund.

Karin Christiansen, the director of the global campaign for aid transparency, Publish What You Fund, explained the importance of having a global aid transparency standard:

“I guess this could sound dull, but it’s actually revolutionary. This is like creating HTML, agreed weights and measures, or an accounting standard; without common formats we couldn’t communicate on the web or buy and sell effectively.”

The availability of timely, comparable and comprehensive aid information would help governments identify how much they are spending or receiving and where the funds are going. A global standard also allows government to measure whether aid is working, according to Publish What You Fund.

“In addition, disclosure in a common standard allows donors to coordinate their efforts and align their resources with the development agendas and budgets of recipient countries,” the organization said.

The NGOs argued that some resources are needed to update aid information that is already available in donor information management systems.

They also expressed concern that some representatives of the IATI signatories are reluctant to shift past current aid information publishing processes.

“This will severely limit the value of this work, particularly for the very countries and people the aid is meant to assist,” the NGOs said in their letter.

ONE, Eurodad, ActionAid, BOND, Oxfam GB, Oxfam America, the U.K. Aid Network and World Vision International were among the organizations that endorsed the letter sent to the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, U.K., U.S., Australia, Switzerland and U.N. Development Programs among other major donors.

About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.