Oxfam publishes its second batch of transparent data
This week we have a guest blog from Paul Clough, head of International Finance at Oxfam GB. Oxfam have just published their second wave of data to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). Paul explains the details of this data and why transparency is important to Oxfam GB.
Back in November of 2011 ahead of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Oxfam GB became one of the first INGOs to publish its programme data to IATI, the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
The IATI standard was agreed in February 2011 when donors, developing country governments, civil society and aid information experts agreed on a common, open, international standard for publishing more, and better, information about aid. IATI’s aim is that those involved in aid programmes will be able to better track what aid is being used for and what it is achieving. Improved transparency should help partner governments to manage aid resources more effectively and help to monitor effectiveness and even reduce the scope for corruption.
Today Oxfam is releasing its second batch of IATI-compliant data, which for the first time includes information about our campaigns and advocacy projects, as well as international programmes. The new data covers financial years 2010/11 and 2011/12 and lists 1,343 projects in 56 countries. Some projects have been omitted from publication to avoid any risk to staff security or harm to our operations. The criteria for the exclusions from publication are outlined in our Open Information Policy.
In 2011 we made a commitment to publish more information more regularly; this second batch includes campaigns project data. We are also working on improving the quality of the data we publish and reducing the level of exclusions.
Why publish more data?
The motivation behind publishing our data in this way is to improve understanding of our work and our accountability. We are committed to being accountable to our key stakeholders, in particular people living in poverty and believe that ultimately greater transparency will improve the quality of aid, for the good of both donors and beneficiaries.
In addition to the data we’re sharing today, we also publish relevant project documents. In 2010 we made a selection of programme and campaign evaluation reports public for the first time. There are now 102 reports available to download from our website. This number is set to grow as we strive to implement our Evaluations Policy and be increasingly transparent about the impact of our programmes.
Making sense of the numbers
There is growing awareness, including within the UK Government, that just dumping ‘raw’ data isn’t enough for transparency, and the open nature of the IATI data format means that third parties can mine the data to draw meaningful conclusions from it.
Since Oxfam published their first batch of data, a number of tools and applications have been developed using IATI data, including the AidView data visualisation platform developed by AidInfo. This tool enables users to filter IATI data from 15 funders by sector, country and funder. It’s an open source prototype and the authors are open to feedback about how the tool should be developed.
The platform is worth exploring for anyone involved in aid information, whether at a research, policy or practitioner level. Or even if you’re just an unashamed data fan!
Read more about Oxfam’s work on IATI and Open Information