Release of data signals new era for aid
This is a key moment in the development of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), turning IATI from a theoretical concept to a practical reality.
Publication to the IATI standard will help donors like DFID to fulfil the transparency commitments they made in the Accra Agenda for Action. Importantly, it will meet the demands from stakeholders in partner and donor countries for aid information that is timely, accurate, comprehensive, comparable and forward-looking.
Many other donors are also now on the same path – some of whom are IATI signatories, some not – and we will be following their commitment to publish all, or as much as possible, of their aid information to the IATI standard prior to the next High Level Forum in Busan in November.
What is significant about today’s event is not just that DFID have published information, but that they have done so to the IATI standard. People need better data in order to make sure aid is spent as effectively and efficiently as possible. They need to know not just what one donor is doing, but what all donors are doing, and they need to be able to find this information in one place.
As it currently stands, if the 47 donors who contribute aid to Zambia are transparent, but publish their information to different standards and definitions, the person in Lusaka who is trying to make sense of it has to go out and find it from each of those 47 different places. Each of those 47 donors will also be asked for information multiple times and have to produce special, often duplicate, reports. IATI means donors can publish data once… then it can be applied to many different needs. In short, the IATI standard means that that information is published once, used many times.
DFID have taken the first crucial step by publishing their raw data in the IATI format. It is indexed by the IATI Registry, which acts as a central reference point for the data published by all IATI signatories. As Daniel Kaplan recently wrote, the registry is the kind of tool that:
provides the common grounds upon which different agents, with different motivations, will create different things.
Developers, analysts and infomediaries can now bring this data to life.
At aidinfo, we are already working on providing users with new means to access, use and understand the data – come back to our site next week to see what we’ve been able to do with the first tranche of data published to the IATI standard.