This blog was originally published on InterAction's website.
Although the world economy has grown for 54 out of the past 55 years, almost 800 million people today still suffer from hunger. Millions more live in poverty. Smarter investments in agriculture and food security are critical to end these problems.
The Initiative for Open Ag Funding, led by InterAction, Development Gateway, the Foundation Center, Publish What You Fund, the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets, and Open Data Services, supports efforts to end hunger and food insecurity by ensuring that organizations have the information they need to make smarter investments. While organizations need various types of data to make better decisions, we are focused on improving the quality, availability, and timeliness of data concerning investments — in other words, data that seeks to answer who is doing what, where, with whom, and to what effect.
Now, some development actors might think that publishing information on their investments is a fairly indirect way to improve lives, but in actuality it can help achieve very real, on-the-ground results in the fight against hunger and poverty.
Having information on what others are funding and implementing in the agriculture and food security sector allows organizations to improve their own planning processes and quickly adapt to changes on the ground in a number of ways. For example, if an organization publishes information on what crops they are working with in a certain district or region, they give another organization the ability to quickly find areas for collaboration with their existing program or the ability to invest in another region or crop for a greater impact. As one agriculture practitioner puts it, it’s important to know what others are funding for “finding those synergies so we’re not duplicating efforts and… can be more efficient and effective together.”
If all development actors – NGOs, donors, foundations, governments, and the private sector – publish this kind of information, organizations would have a more accurate picture of agricultural investments worldwide, allowing them to quickly identify where their resources can make the most difference.
However, in order to make real contributions to reduce hunger and poverty, the data published must meet the actual needs of those working in the sector. It’s not the quantity of data that matters. It’s the quality. It must serve a purpose and it has to be timely.
The Initiative for Open Ag Funding is working to ensure just that: that investment data meets the needs of those working in agriculture and food security. Through consultations with NGOs, donors, and foundations, we have identified what data organizations need, what they need it for, and the challenges they face when data isn’t available. Using these insights, it is now possible to develop improvements to the current agricultural investment data landscape so that it is useful for agriculture stakeholders.
Our conversations show that there is a very real need for improved investment data. That is why we are staring this blog series - to share what organizations working in the sector had to say, from three distinct perspectives: NGOs, donors, and foundations. We’ll also show how everyone can help, from small non-profits to government agencies with multi-million dollar budgets.
Stay tuned for our second blog next week on the investment data needs and challenges of NGOs.
Image credit: Allan Castaneda