The AidData website went live yesterday, opening up a huge new amount of information on aid flows, individual projects and multilateral spending. The project organisers estimate that they have published improved data on one third of aid money. The aim is to improve transparency and thus help in the fight against corruption and misuse of aid money.
Kawusu Kebbay from the Sierra Leone Government highlighted at the Oxford launch on Monday that: “Corruption is primarily driven by the lack of information on aid data and weak capacity”. By going into considerably more depth on how money is spent AidData looks to give local civil society the tools to hold officials to account.
Michael Tierney, director of the programme, told the UN’ s humanitarian news service how he thought the website would be used:
What we hope is that once the information is made public others will use it and develop applications for it that we haven’t thought of yet. We want a continual feedback loop: if the database says a donor funded a bridge in Nicaragua and someone sends in a picture of a half-built bridge in Nicaragua, we need to connect those dots.
Another area in which AidData helps to improve the overall picture is by providing substantial new information on the so-called ‘emerging donors’. These include countries in the Middle East and the BRICs.
The database comes from six years of hard work by teams based at the College of William and Mary, Brigham Young University and Development Gateway. Much of the data they have made available is a result of painstakingly trawling through donor documents and existing databases. They have also conducted hundreds of face-to-face meetings with aid agencies to try and extract as much new information as possible.
The next step for the AidData team is to convince donors to provide all their data in an easily accessible format to make transparency efforts easier and improve aid effectiveness as a result. ONE will be pushing for the implementation of the International Aid Transparency Initiative to achieve just that.