The 2018 Aid Transparency Index

Development – Aid Transparency

The 2018 Aid Transparency Index
Publish What You Fund
June 2018 :: 40 pages
Produced with financial support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the European Union, DFID, and the Aid Transparency Index Supporters’ Coalition.
The Aid Transparency Index is the only independent measure of aid transparency among the world’s major development agencies. In 2018, it assesses 45 agencies. It is researched and produced by Publish What You Fund.

Executive Summary [Editor’s text bolding]
The past year has been a complex and challenging one for aid and development transparency. To help fulfil development needs and ambitious global objectives, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), more and better aid and development finance than ever is required, especially at a time when some donors’ budgets are being reduced. To help meet this demand, more actors – including development finance institutions (DFIs) and others from the private and humanitarian sector – have become more involved, changing the landscape of aid and development finance forever.

The involvement of a growing number of aid and development actors presents a transparency challenge. To ensure that we can see the whole picture of aid and development finance, information provided for public use must remain consistent, whatever type of donor shares it. This comes at a time when the effectiveness and accountability of aid is under increased scrutiny. This scrutiny is necessary – it is vital to ensure the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of future aid and development finance projects.

The 2018 Aid Transparency Index shows how these actors are performing individually and as a whole. Overall, the 2018 results show much to be positive about. For example, 93% of Index organisations are now publishing in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard, which means more timely aid and development data is being made openly available than ever before. Around half of the organisations are publishing essential information on their aid and development spending on a monthly basis. Compare this to just a quarter reported in
the 2016 Index.

Although this is, of course, to be applauded, the publishing of timely data in itself is not enough. To be of value, it also needs to be comprehensive and cover all aspects of development projects, including, but not limited to, financial and performance-related data. Only two organisations – the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – publish on all Index indicators in the IATI Standard.

This year, the AsDB, with a score of 98.6%, knocks the UNDP off the 2016 Index’s top spot. Other DFIs, including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank International Development Association (WB-IDA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) have also done well. They dominate the ‘very good’ category. The UNDP, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UK-DFID) and the United States’ Millennium Challenge Corporation (US-MCC) also lead the way in this category.

Collectively, however, the ‘fair’, ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ categories are the Index’s largest. Typically, donors in these categories fail to share enough high-quality data across all indicators. For example, in the ‘poor’ category the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK-FCO) provides information on just 39% of indicators. And both the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Spain-AECID) and Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (Japan-JICA) publish on fewer indicators than in 2016.

To help ensure transparency commitments are honoured and to be able to see a more complete picture of aid and development finance, development organisations need to be transparent on all aspects of development work, including on whether objectives are met. Publish What You Fund strongly urges organisations – in both the private and the public sector – to share detailed, timely, comprehensive and comparable data so this can happen.

Only when the missing pieces of the data transparency jigsaw are provided can open data be used and transformed into the life-changing first step required to make aid and development activities more effective and hold organisations and donors to account for significant and lasting change.