Apr/May 2012

News and Features

Launch of Mapping Tool and Malawi Geocoded Data

In early March, the Strauss Center’s Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) program and AidData released a dynamic mapping tool that allows for analysis of climate change and conflict across Africa, plus development assistance in Malawi. The mapping tool uses Esri’s ArcGIS platform to enable users to select and layer combinations of CCAPS data onto one map. It also shows how conflict dynamics are changing over time and space. This tool provides an interactive medium for researchers to explore how climate change vulnerability and conflict interact, and in Malawi, to see how aid is distributed across different areas.

Recently, CCAPS and AidData made the dataset of geocoded aid activities in Malawi available to the public. Now, anyone can use the data for research purposes (Rufus Pollock of the Open Knowledge Foundation has already auto-plotted it using another tool). The dataset includes sub-national geocodes for approximately 550 aid projects undertaken in Malawi since 2000, representing nearly $5.3 billion in total commitments, or roughly 80% of all aid reported to the Malawi Ministry of Finance during that time. Initial exploration of the data (undertaken by Brigham Young University faculty member and AidData/CCAPS researcher Mike Findley) shows that population density may be the most important determinant of allocation patterns, more so than poverty, access to electricity or other measures of need.

You can download the full dataset here. The AidData team looks forward to learning how others will use the mapping tool and dataset.

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Development Gateway Receives Grant from French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

Development Gateway has received a grant from the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE) for EUR 600,000, to be used for a series of research and innovation activities over a three year period. M. Jean-Baptiste Mattei, Director-General for Globalization, Partnerships, and Development, and Jean-Louis Sarbib, CEO of Development Gateway, signed the agreement in Paris in March. After signing the agreement, the parties discussed the activities to be funded under the grant in 2012, which will include work on data visualization and analytics and other areas. France has been represented on Development Gateway’s Board of Directors since 2010.

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Timor-Leste Launches Public Aid Transparency Portal

Timor-Leste recently launched an Aid Transparency Portal that gives the public online access to information entered into the Ministry’s Aid Management Platform (implemented in 2011). This information will be used for Timor’s own reporting and aid management purposes as well as to benefit donors who can use the data to improve coordination and division of labor. The site can be used to review official aid projects, and create charts, graphs and maps to explore vital trends and statistics. AMP Timor is an initiative of the Ministry of Finance of Timor-Leste with support from the Governments of Japan and Australia, and the Asian Development Bank. It was implemented by Development Gateway.

Since its independence in 2002, Timor-Leste has taken a number of measures to increase transparency. The Petroleum Fund Act of 2005 requires that all petroleum revenues accruing to the government be deposited in the Petroleum Fund, which is overseen by the Petroleum Fund Consultative Council, consisting of the President, members of parliament, NGOs, religious groups, and former Presidents, Prime Ministers and finance ministers. The Banking and Payments Authority, which houses the fund, must publish quarterly reports on Petroleum Fund investments. Measures to promote transparency and accountability helped Timor-Leste achieve a score of 70.5/100 on the 2010 Revenue Watch Index.

Timor-Leste is also a signatory of the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action. It hosted the first global meeting for International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in April 2010, where one of the 7 goals identified was to develop effective and accountable government institutions to facilitate service delivery. The following July, Timor-Leste hosted the regional Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) conference, where it became the first country in Asia and third overall to obtain EITI Compliant status. Recently, the government placed an ad in Foreign Policy magazine to highlight the progress Timor-Leste is making in transparency, and emphasized the new Aid Transparency Portal. “Transparency means transparency. We have nothing to hide,” said Emilia Pires, the Timor-Leste Minister of Finance.

Timor-Leste has also, since its independence, improved by 19 places in the Corruption Perception Index, 14 places in the Human Development Index ranking, and 7 places in the World Bank Doing Business Report.

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China Development Gateway Launches Photo Contest

The China Development Gateway and China Internet Information Center launched a photo contest called “Lending Spotlight: Poverty Relief Through a Lens” on May 15. Entries will be accepted until Sept. 20, with an awards ceremony in Nov. 2012. The contest focuses on global development and aims to share China’s experience in poverty reduction with other countries, and build international support to combat poverty. The contest is open to amateur as well as professional photographers, and entries can be submitted online or by regular mail. The China Development Gateway is part of the Country Gateway network. For more information, visit the contest website.

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Stories from the Field

Springtime Transparency Events

This Story from the Field comes from Stephen Davenport, Development Gateway’s Senior Director for Business Development/Partnerships:

In April and May I had the opportunity to represent Development Gateway at three events focused on transparency. One of these events was the Open Aid Partnership (OAP) Workshop in Stockholm. The event was very hands on. There were about 25-30 participants who each brought datasets of their activities in different parts of the world. My colleague, Josh Powell, did a great job co-leading (with our partners at the World Bank) a session on how to geocode the data and then put it all on one map to see where everyone is working. It was great for everyone to see the value of geocoding and learn how easy it can be to learn and do.

The Open Aid Partnership brings development partners together to enhance the openness and effectiveness of development assistance. The partnership focuses on mapping and technology for improved aid transparency, better monitoring and targeting of development programs, and increasing accountability by empowering citizens to provide feedback and use open aid data themselves.

I also had the chance to present tools and technology available to support transparency to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Steering Committee in Paris, along with Development Gateway’s Guillaume Delalande, who is doing a lot to ensure that our country-level work reflects the ongoing global discussions. The Steering Committee meeting was a great opportunity to show how IATI data can be made more usable and to highlight the benefits of mapping data. Not only were we able to show the importance of technology in transparency to those already involved in IATI, but a number of other organizations attended and were able to see the value of IATI in their own work.

Development Gateway has focused mainly on transparency with respect to aid flows, but we recognize the importance of connecting that with public sector transparency more broadly. I hosted a booth at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Annual Conference to present the Aid Management Platform (AMP) and AidData, which was a great step towards being more involved in the open government arena. The OGP is a multilateral initiative to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. This meeting was important because the governments who have committed to the initiative announced their strategic plans, and we will start to see practical outputs coming from the OGP. There is no set way to achieve the goals of the OGP; it’s more like a race to the top, which, although perhaps chaotic, allows for creativity and innovation. Overall, it was a great conference, and I enjoyed meeting several different organizations that I hope we’ll be able to work with in the future.

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Upcoming Events

June 6th - June 7th
Aid & International Development Forum, Washington, DC, USA

June 6th - June 7th
European Data Forum 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark

June 20th - June 22nd
Rio+20: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Zunia Highlights

Andrew MacMillan and Ignacio Trueba talk about how to end hunger during times of crisis

Michael Clemens discusses migration and development

Catherine M. Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons, answers questions on licensing and copyright issues

Interesting Links

Publish What You Buy is the next idea to promote transparency by having governments publish full copies of every contract they sign with a company to provide goods, works or services.

The DATA Act passed in the US House of Representatives aims to improve government spending transparency.

The Open Knowledge Foundation announced the first set of topics for the 2012 OKFestival, to be held in Helsinki in September, and called for a second wave of proposals, due June 1. The theme of the event is Open Knowledge in Action and the event represents the merger of the Open Government Data Camp and the Open Knowledge Conference.