Five good parenting tips for IATI

16 October 2014
Author: Sarah Johns

2015 will be a pivotal year for the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) – it will be 7 years old. Like all proud parents, we've had ambitions for IATI since its birth at Accra in 2008. Not that it would grow up to be a scientist, but that it would revolutionise the way that we access and understand aid data. We dreamt that this would in turn increase donor accountability and drive demand from partner countries and their citizens for more and better information.

The birth of IATI was a time of exhilaration and experimentation and the intervening years have been a combination of baby brain and toddler milestones. But where are we in 2014?

The Aid Transparency Index, which ranks the progress of donors in providing transparent aid data, acts like an annual development check for IATI. The 2014 Aid Transparency Index shows the growth in quality and quantity of aid data, driven largely by the UN, EC, development banks and states such as the UK, Spain, Canada and Ireland. But enthusiasm from the world's largest donors such as USAID seems to be waning and there is a long list of Busan signatories that are nowhere near reaching this commitment.

In 2015, the year we commit to new development goals, IATI will be seven – for children, this is the age of  independence, of reaching towards their potential. It's time for IATI to take this step, and it will take all of us, extended aunties and uncles, to work in partnership to achieve this.

With this in mind, here are my top IATI parenting tips (with a hat tip to today's index launch):

  1. Make sure donors that publically committed to aid transparency at Busan in 2011 meet their commitment to provide comprehensive, comparable, accessible and timely data, including forward-looking budget information by December 2015. Join the campaign.
  2. Make it easy for country governments to find out about and use this information within their own planning and finance systems. And go further – hold these governments to account for "sharing-alike" – committing to opening up aid and budget information to their citizens. 
  3. As development assistance sources become more diverse, engage the data community to link IATI with other financing flowing into countries to create a 360-degree view – this includes flows from corporates, private sources and non-Busan signatories. AidData 3.0 is a good example of what this might looks like.
  4. Create a vibrant ecosystem of philanthropists and entrepreneurs around IATI to promote and fund innovation and use of IATI data outside our sector, for example for climate finance tracking
  5. Make sure IATI is included in the post-2015 development goals. Remember that it's ultimately about progress towards ending poverty. IATI gives us the potential to share information about the outcomes of donor funding in order to build on what’s working for the poorest people.

With just 14 months left for Busan signatories to deliver on their aid transparency commitments and the development community actively involved in discussions on new development goals, 2015 presents an opportunity for IATI to grow up and take its place in the world. Let’s make sure this happens.

Bond is a member of the IATI Steering Committee and works closely with UK NGOs and DFID grant holders using the IATI standard.

About the author

Sarah Johns
Bond

Sarah Johns is transparency manager at Bond, covering the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), open data and transparency.