Moving closer to an international data standard for aid information

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), launched in 2008 during the Accra High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, is approaching a major milestone. Next Wednesday, its Steering Committee will meet to finalize the second phase of the IATI data standard (the first phase was agreed last summer). Meanwhile, just this week, the UK’s aid agency—the Department for International Development (DFID)—became the first donor to publish its data on the IATI data registry in the agreed format. Many more donors will publish their information in this format in the lead up to the Busan High Level Forum to be held in Nov./Dec. 2011.

IATI has been signed by 18 donors and endorsed by 18 partner countries, including Liberia and Bangladesh most recently. In advance of next week’s meeting, 35 CSOs advocating greater transparency and comparability of aid information have sent letters to IATI signatories encouraging them to make sure IATI delivers. In particular, they emphasize the need to address the priority concerns of countries receiving aid, including the timely provision of data on current and projected aid flows, and the use of common data formats that are compatible with national budgets and systems.

As donors, partner countries, and other development organizations make progress toward speaking the same language—using the same definitions and classifications for different types of aid flows—it makes AidData’s job much easier. Soon, AidData users will be able to download data in IATI format, so stay tuned. Being able to aggregate, disaggregate, and mash up aid information from many sources is key to answering the most basic and the most sophisticated questions about where aid goes and what impact is has.