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A future for aid data

29 October 2011

Michael HubbardPranay SinhaMichael Hubbard, Reader in Development Economics, is an economist specialising in public economic and finance management, aid management and international trade. Pranay Sinha is a Research Fellow in aid management and public finance. They are currently collaborating on a research project on aid data funded by DFID through its Future of Aid and Beyond Research Competition 2010-11.

Transparency for publicly-financed aid for development should be non-negotiable, irrespective of whether or not they are ‘official development assistance’ (ODA). As the number of players in development finance grows, and non-DAC donors increase their aid financing, it is becoming apparent that exclusion of their aid data will prohibit getting a full picture of future global aid governance. Though the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has long played a key role in defining and capturing data on development finance and monitoring its global standards for DAC donors the question arises as to whether its existing standards or categorizations are inclusive enough to integrate the non-DAC donors. There are ongoing efforts, particularly the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), to improve aid data transparency and reform the way aid data is disclosed by DAC donors. However the lack of aid data availability of the non-DAC donors in existing global aid governance is a difficulty, associated with their different data capture, methodology and data categorisations.

Our current research programme investigates the incentives and disincentives for non traditional donors to adhere to International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standards, and the challenges and opportunities that non traditional donors bring to the IATI.

Data on aid flows from non-DAC donors are often unavailable or incomplete due to lack of incentives, weak capacity, having no formal place in the aid architecture, and a lack of standards and definitions.  Existing IATI standards may go some distance towards providing a framework for helping to fill this gap, but they do not satisfy all of the needs of South-South cooperation, and the question of incentives for participating in the aid reporting system remains to be addressed.

On 31 October and 1 November, we will present the preliminary results of our research at a workshop in Birmingham, including an approach to data categorisation in south-south cooperation that has the potential to complement ongoing IATI categorisations. Others researching and advocating greater transparency and consistency in aid data will also present on their current work. It is hoped that the workshop will stimulate lively discussion on policy options in the run-up to the Busan high level forum on aid effectiveness in December.

For more information about the workshop, please see: Workshop: A Future for Aid Data.  The following preliminary reports are available for discussion:

We welcome your feedback on these preliminary findings, either by leaving comments here on the blog using the links below, or by contacting us directly.  Our contact information can be found on our staff profile pages: Michael Hubbard and Pranay Sinha.

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