This post debuts the final report from DG's program on the Use of IATI in Country Systems that will be presented at the International Aid Transparency Initiative's Members Assembly 28-30 June 2016.
Over the past 8 years, the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) has significantly increased the availability of timely data on development assistance, now featuring data from more than 300 publishers. As a longtime IATI community member, in 2015 DG initiated a program on the Use of IATI in Country Systems to better understand existing levels of government IATI awareness and use; government priorities for aid information and how well existing IATI data meets these needs; government perceptions of IATI value-add and usability; operational, technical, and political barriers to using IATI in country aid information management systems (AIMS); and ways in which the IATI standard and publisher community can better assist governments in leveraging IATI data.
So what have we found?
Challenges Around Language, Trust, Timeliness are Key Barriers to Use
While most participants surveyed expressed previous knowledge of IATI, few had ever tried to access the data store, citing language constraints (all program countries are francophone), trust in data vaidation processes (many felt unsure how data were reported, and voiced concern about double-counting or reporting), and timeliness of the information.
IATI Data Adds Value to Country Information
Following consultation with government staff, DG used our open source IATI Import Tool to bring select IATI data into country AIMS.
As shown above, the import of IATI data resulted in the addition of hundreds of millions of dollars of aid flow data, which were previously ‘blind spots’ for the country governments. These largely included non-traditional actors, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), and the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
Note: In Madagascar, imports are being done directly by the government. At the time of writing, DG has not yet received confirmation on the amount of funding imported by the government.
Tools and Training Support Use – But Additional Collaboration is Needed
The DG program included the development and deployment of the IATI Import Tool, and training for government staff on how to evaluate and import IATI data. After training, government officials expressed greater awareness of and enthusiasm for IATI. But (unsurprisingly), a week's worth of training felt insufficient to the majority of participants.
When asked, government participants cited online tutorials and continuous training as their greatest needs, with improved IATI tools also important. But overall, data quality (timeliness, information around validation processes) and publication in the official government language both ranked highest in government priorities for improving the usefulness of IATI data.
Going forward, DG is looking to use these lessons learned to improve the quality of our programming and sustainability of our technical and data solutions. We look forward to engaging further with the IATI Members Assembly this week in Copenhagen, and continuing dialogues with government colleagues, like-minded organizations, and data champions.