• Written by Emily Armanetti
    24 May 2023

Recently Adrian played the role of roving developer, stopping at two important events, including the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Technical Advisory Group (TAG).

Since it’s inception, support for IATI has gained a fair amount of momentum. Governments and organisations such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The European Investment Bank,  the World Bank, Oxfam, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) have joined the IATI  marking great steps toward bringing transparency to development aid. Today, more than 200 organisations are publishing their data and the full list to date can be found at the IATI registry.

Still, there are a lot of moving parts involved in opening up information to show where aid flows and the IATI standard is a key piece of the puzzle.  But some of the work that was done at TAG was to figure out how to improve data quality and put more context around it to truly understand the money flow.

Another piece of it is how the data is published. Akvo’s Openaid was developed to help organisations publish development aid data in a human-friendly format. It takes IATI files and transforms it into an attractive website with maps, featuring search and filters, attribution and a user-friendly experience.

It sounds simple, but for those who aren’t involved day-to-day in joining or promoting the IATI standard, we have found some basic, but key questions come up when we talk about IATI and Openaid.

What is Openaid?

Akvo Openaid is a web-based tool for publishing large quantities of development aid data in a human-friendly format. Openaid ingest IATI XML files that are published on the IATI registry and transforms it into an attractive website with maps, making it searchable and understandable.

What is IATI?

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to make information about aid spending easier to access, use and understand.

Is there a risk that a system like Openaid just creates more bureaucracy?

As information about aid flows becomes more open and available, it helps decision makers spend money more effectively, instead of acting blindly. Corruption and inefficiencies in the system are exposed and can potentially be dealt with. This should reduce the complexity often associated with navigating processes and decision-making within large organisations.

Is Openaid only tracking funding in certain sectors or does it work across development sectors?

It works across all development sectors. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is using Openaid to publish its entire portfolio of international development programmes.

Does Openaid only track spend for projects that are listed in Akvo RSR?

No Openaid can be used to publish any large bodies of international development data. However, when programmes published in Openaid are linked to specific projects in RSR, it enables people to view information at both the macro (programme overview) and micro (individual project) level, giving a very full picture of the full journey from donor to beneficiary.

Openaid presents aid spending activity in ways that are easy to navigate. Over time Akvo is working to link data that is in Openaid with related project monitoring and reporting data in tools such as Akvo FLOW and Akvo RSR.

How are you addressing the challenge of protecting information if a donor doesn’t want the information published?

By signing up for IATI a donor is agreeing to publish information as opendata and will be required to do so.

How do you know if the data that is available is being used and how will it be used in the future?

The first step is about publishing data. The next phase needs to be about communication and creating awareness. According to IATI 70 percent of all global aid flows is now listed on the IATI registry. This is important information of global significance. There is little doubt that once it is commonly available it will be used in many different ways.

How will this help professionals in the field?

It helps them look at other organisations doing similar work and enables them to see where support is needed in specific areas based on actual need. It gives more insight to governments, donors and civic society planning interventions and helps make spend more effective.

Is there potential to use this to rank implementers to see resources vs. impact?

Yes, if this information is aligned with local activity and reviewed against global indicators, it is easier to see the real impact of specific work that is being done. We can compare this to independent global indicator results that are not being reported by NGOs, so this will also help enable more effective impact reporting.