Recently, the Government of Malawi launched a new public portal on foreign aid spending. The portal allows citizens, civil society members, development partners, government employees, and other stakeholders to see detailed information on aid-funded projects.
The public portal makes available information housed in Malawi's Aid Management Platform (AMP), a database and analytical tool for foreign aid projects active in Malawi since 2008, with significant financial support from the United Nations Development Program. The AMP system was developed by Development Gateway (in consultation with partner governments and stakeholders around the world) to help governments to better manage foreign aid projects and integrate off-budget activities into the national budgeting processes.
With the launch of the public portal, Malawi joins 6 of Development Gateway's partner governments who, over the past 2 years, have made all information on foreign aid spending transparent and accessible (Nepal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Timor Leste, Honduras, Kosovo and Laos all have also recently launched public aid portals). This kind of transparency, happening at the national government level, is perhaps a watershed moment for the aid effectiveness movement.
The Government of Malawi, in collaboration with the Open Aid Partnership, took this transparency a step further by timing the AMP launch to take advantage of an important opportunity for promoting the use of the Open Data - an exciting full-day workshop on data literacy and use, supported by the Open Aid Partnership and attended by government officials, development partners, and members of civil society. The event showcased Malawi's world-leading efforts in aid-project geocoding, through which the Government, in partnership with the University of Texas’s Strauss Center’s program on Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS), AidData Center for Development Policy, and Development Gateway, geocoded thousands of locations associated with development projects in the country.
The geocoding work not only added value to the Government's aid management system, but also was foundational to the country-wide geocoding methodologies promoted by the AidData Center for Development Policy and the Open Aid Partnership. This workshop and launch brought some of that work back home; to quote Malawi's Minister of Finance, Maxwell Mkwezalamba:
For Malawi, greater transparency means opening up information on development projects and policies to Malawian citizenry by providing them with the tools and information they need to better hold their Government and its cooperating partners accountable. It also means ensuring that this information is easily accessible and relevant to the public to ensure the supply of development data is met with broad-based demand. This is why today’s launch of the Public Portal of the Aid Management Platform marks yet another milestone in the open development agenda as all key stakeholders will have direct accept to development aid data. […] Through the AMP, the ministry will be able to locate on the map of Malawi, all our development projects through the geo-coding initiative. As some of you are aware, Malawi’s geo-coding initiative is now recognized globally as is being cited as a milestone in aid transparency.
With the launch of the public portal, the Government of Malawi now sits positioned as a leader in geospatial aid data, country-led foreign aid transparency, and in promoting the use of open data by citizens and civil society. Development Gateway is proud to have been able to work with the Government of Malawi, and looks forward to continuing to support their active commitment to transparency and open government.
Thanks to OAP for the use of the photograph.