Projects funded by development aid are complicated undertakings - they take many forms, financing different activities in different currencies over different periods of time. In order for development actors to use aid information for development planning, coordination, and monitoring, project-level data must be recorded in a standard, commonly-accepted language.
For the past two years, the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) has partnered with donor and recipient governments, multilateral aid agencies, private organizations, and NGOs to develop, elaborate, and test a common aid language. At their meeting in Paris on February 9th, the IATI Steering Committee achieved a milestone in the aid transparency movement – finalization of a new global aid reporting standard. Jean-Louis Sarbib, CEO of Development Gateway, hailed IATI’s achievement and noted that “this takes us a big step closer to getting complete information on aid activities to the communities where they are taking place, so that citizens are empowered to participate in their own development". According to Karin Christiansen, director of Publish What You Fund, this achievement will “make it possible to build a bigger picture of aid activities, which means that donors and recipients can coordinate their plans and complement the activities of others, reducing duplication and waste.”
As a member of the IATI Steering Committee and its Technical Advisory Group, Development Gateway (DG) is leveraging its past experience in designing and implementing aid reporting methodologies. DG used its in-country expertise to facilitate IATI pilot studies in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malawi, where IATI-format data was imported into local Aid Management Platforms.
AidData, one of Development Gateway’s development information platforms (managed jointly with the College of William and Mary and Brigham Young University), will soon enable users to export project data in IATI standard format, and is also working to import data directly from the IATI registry. This will make it easier to mash up data on development activities with other types of information, such as development statistics, as in AidData’s new web app, Development Loop.
Data standardization is merely the first step in making aid information accessible – IATI signatories must now focus on implementing the standard and publishing data. In early February, UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) became the first IATI signatory to publish aid information in the IATI registry using the standard – other signatories have agreed to do the same before the Busan High-Level Forum in November 2011.