Study Assesses Transparency by Major Aid Donors

29 October 2010

The Publish What You Fund has assessed the transparency of 30 major aid donors.

The Fund evaluated the donors in three categories: high level commitment to transparency; transparency to recipient governments; and transparency to civil society.

Eight data sources were used to flesh out seven weighted indicators. The study evaluated countries and international financial institutions.

The data was inadequate to the task, the Fund found, stating, “This meant we couldn’t do the type of bottom up assessment we wanted to.” These inadequacies buttress the case for building an international standard on data flows, a multilateral effort now underway, said the Fund, a major promoter of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). (See previous report.)

The World Bank was the highest performing donor, with more than double the transparency score (85.4%) of the lowest (Japan with 41.9%).

“We found that there is a wide variation in levels of donor aid transparency and that donors showed significant weaknesses across the seven indicators.”

To gauge the first category, “commitment to aid transparency,” the Fund measured participation in the International Aid Transparency Initiative, the submission of data to an international database, and the existence of some form of Freedom of Information legislation . Twenty-one of the 30 donors are participating in IATI in some way.

Donors generally performed less well in respect of their transparency towards recipient governments, the second category. This evaluated the extent to which donors provide information which recipients capture in their annual budget and the future aid information recipients need for forward planning.

“It is clear that donors continue to struggle with this critical element of transparency,” concluded the report.

Regarding the third category, “transparency of aid to civil society,” the Fund evaluated the extent to which donors make aid information available to civil society using an academic assessment and a survey of civil society organizations.

“In general, these assessments are consistent with other indicators,” concluded the report, continuing, “They suggest that even if there is a high-level engagement in improving aid transparency among donors, there are currently still availability and accessibility issues in relation to civil society and the general public.”

The assessment is available to download here. You can also experiment with the weighting and see how this affects the overall score.

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Filed under: IFTI Watch


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
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