Ranking transparency

Development Policy16 Nov 2011Rachel Rank

Just 2 weeks before the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, the global campaign for aid transparency, Publish What You Fund, has released a ranking of the transparency of aid donors.

The Index – the first of its kind – ranks 58 donor agencies according to how much information they provide across 35 different indicators. The average score of 34% shows that although some donors have made good progress, the majority need to do much more. No donors ranked in the top category ‘good’, which requires a score of over 80%.

The current lack of comprehensive, timely and comparable aid information means that donor governments do not know enough about where their own money is being spent with what effect, nor can they can compare and coordinate what they are doing with other agencies around the world. Without comparable data, aid-recipient countries cannot plan their own spending properly or measure impact. Equally, taxpayers in both donor and recipient countries are unable to hold their government to account for spending the money well.

The report calls on all donors to sign up to and implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which provides a common standard for publishing data and has the potential to transform the way aid is managed. The Make Aid Transparent campaign, a coalition of over 100 organisations worldwide, is also calling for donors to commit to opening their books at Busan.

Major donors including the U.S., Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Canada, Italy and Australia perform poorly in the Index, in spite of pledges to improve at the High Level Meetings in 2005 and 2008. The five best-ranked donors are the World Bank, the Global Fund, the African Development Bank, The Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UK’s Department for International Development.

The fifteen worst-performers (Spain, Portugal, U.S. Department of Defense, UK Commonwealth Development Corporation, Latvia, U.S. Treasury, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, China, Greece, Cyprus and Malta) all scored less than 19%, with the bottom two scoring 0%.

The Make Aid Transparent campaign launched in June this year to urge governments to maintain commitments to publish to the international standard. In the last 6 months it has gained real ground. It is now supported by over 100 organisations and 8000 people internationally and has been presented around the world, including in London, Paris, Washington, D.C., Yemen, Honduras, and Berlin.