Why we became the 3rd NGO to adopt IATI transparency standards

University of Waterloo students wear Make Poverty History T-shirts for a campaign led by the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders in Canada. Photo by: Mohammad Jangda / CC BY-SA

Last week, in advance of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in South Korea, Engineers Without Borders Canada became the third NGO in the world to publish its aid information according to voluntary standards set by the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

Why we did it

Publishing to the IATI standard is not only a part of our commitment to making information about our organization’s activities easier to access, use and understand. It’s also a commitment to growing the global aid transparency movement and demonstrating that organizations of all sizes have a role to play in championing a common international standard for aid transparency.

After over a year of promoting increased aid transparency and the adoption of IATI to the Canadian government, EWB feels it is time to turn some of our attention towards making our own operations more transparent. In partnership with the Open Aid Register (a new initiative to help NGOs become more transparent), our first phase of IATI implementation includes data about EWB’s work in Malawi’s water and sanitation sector.

This is just the first step

While this is an important first step, we appreciate that we have more work to do in learning how aid transparency can best contribute to improved development effectiveness. In the weeks and months to come, we’re committed to publishing more and more data that will shed light on other areas of our work in Africa.

Still learning, still evolving


Taking this step has helped us learn a lot about the challenges and nuances of publishing to the IATI standard. IATI remains a work in progress, and as such we believe it’s crucial for development organizations to not only publish their activities and spending, but also to provide real-time feedback that makes the standard more effective and easier for citizens, donors and aid organizations to use. We believe this commitment to learning from, and improving, IATI is what will help guarantee its long-term success as a truly global standard for aid transparency.

EWB adopting the IATI standard represents the start of a conversation, not the end. Transparency alone does not necessarily improve aid effectiveness: our goal now is to put out more and better data, to ensure that this information helps us and others improve the impact of our investments. We don’t know exactly how this data will be used, but over the next few months as we publish more data sets about our work, we hope you’ll give us honest feedback on how we can strengthen our contribution to the aid transparency movement.

Canada making incremental improvements

We’ve said it before - we’re encouraged by the steps that Canada is taking towards transparency and more effective Canadian aid, including the Canadian International Development Agency’s launch of an Open Data Portal that publishes more Canadian aid spending data than ever before. We’re hopeful that Cida will continue along this path, taking practical steps to strengthen aid transparency in a manner that aligns well with IATI and a global standard.

You can view EWB’s first data set now via the IATI registry.

Revised and republished with permission by Engineers Without Borders. Read the original blog post.

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