"The new source of power is not money in the hands of a few, but information in the hands of many."
When information which properly belongs to the public is systematically withheld by those in power, the people soon become ignorant of their own affairs, distrustful of those who manage them, and - eventually - incapable of determining their own destinies. Although in many countries recognize the right of citizens to access and use information, this right is often not implemented. Access to information is the basis for transparency and accountability both in government activities and in donor projects. Tanzania is one example, where access to information and accountability leaves much room for improvement.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative will be deciding on the first phase of opening up standardised donor data on July 7th. In a recent futuregov article valuable insights on open data and cultures of openness by David McClure, one of the founders of data.gov are summarised. Open Data, McClure argues, should not just be add on for governments. Open Data will not be able to change much, if the organisational cultures of organisations and governments that free their data do not change correspondingly.
Transparency creates trust. NGOs dependent on private donations need this trust. Therefore the German Network of NGOs working development and environmental issues (VENRO) supports a national initiative for a transparent civil society. According to a VENRO press release of June 23rd this initiative brings together nine German networks and organisations and consists of a commitment to publish ten information items.
The 2010 EU AidWatch Report was launched this morning in Brussels. Having ‘tracked the EU’s progress towards achieving its aid quantity and quality commitments’, the report states that most donors are yet to adequately address the important issues of aid transparency, conditionality and accountability. Read more »
As part of their Ownership in Practice series, Oxfam America has this week released the report ‘Information: Let countries know what donors are doing’. The report highlights the urgent need to address the lack of aid information which, if available in an accessible, comprehensive, timely and comparable format, would increase donor- recipient coordination and more effective aid.
Participation has for a long time been a popular buzz word in development cooperation. In reality however citizen involvement often seems to be considered a "nice to have". A recent report by the British NGO INVOLVE approaches the issue of participation from a different angle and argues the complexity of most social problems in development cooperation and in social policy generally cannot be adequately addressed by planning of some experts. Read more »
In May 2010 the new British Prime Minister wrote an open letter to all government urging them to open up data. "Greater transparency across Government" according to Cameron "is at the heart of our shared commitment to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account; to reduce the deficit and deliver better value for money in public spending; and to realise significant economic benefits by enabling businesses and non-profit organisations to build innovative applications and websites using public data." Following this commitment of the Prime Minister to transparency, the British Development Ministry (DIFD) published an aid transparency guarantee on its website to allow British taxpayers and citizens in poor countries to hold them to account and to provide feedback on DFID services. Read more »
Advocacy and Transparency as Levers for Aid Effectiveness There is a lot of hype at the moment to promote Rigorous Impact Evaluations in order to improve aid effectiveness. One line of argumentation goes that there is a lack of knowledge and rigorous impact evaluations will provide valuable knowledge about what works and what doesn't. The other line of argumentation is that more rigorous impact evaluation will provide transparency as to who is doing good work and who isn't. This will increase the control of tax payers and donor governments and weed out ineffective aid. Read more »
Das neuste IATI Consultation Paper ist jetzt offen für Kommentare in einem Internet online forum bis zum 21 Mai. Das Dokument enthält die aktuellen Vorschläge zur Umsetzung der 2008 in Accra unterzeichneten International Aid Transparency Initiative. Sie wurden von der IATI Technical Advisory Group (TAG) erarbeitet. Read more »
Seit wenigen Tagen hat sich die Informationslage über Entwicklungshilfeprojekte erfreulicherweise verbessert. AidData ist online! Am 23. März wurde der Schalter umgelegt und eine Datenbank mit Entwicklungshilfeprojekten seit 1945 ist für alle offen. Die Datenbank ist nicht vollständig, aber sie erfasst vor allem für die nähere Vergangenheit einen großen Teil aller Projekte weltweit. In AidData kann nach Ländern und Sektoren, die Gesamtbudgets sind erfasst sowie teilweise auch zusätzliche Projektdokumente.
How do you get civil society engaged in public online monitoring of your project? Even if you design a killer website for interaction among stakeholders, it will be of absolutely no value without visitors. And chances are that unless you're a seasoned search engine optimizer or have a very large budget at your disposal, nobody will ever find your website. This is where social networks enter the picture.
- Raising awareness in the German public and the German development community about the aid transparency movement and related issues: ICT4D, e-governance, anti-corruption, aid effectiveness and the open data movement in Germany.
- Following up on the commitment and current activities of the German government and German NGOs on aid transparency.
- Promoting public discourse and pilot initiatives to advance the aid transparency agenda.
Access Info is a Spain based organisation promoting the right to access information for the purpose of defending civil liberties and human rights, facilitating public participation in decision making and for holding governments accountable. Access Info undertakes research on the implementation of the right to information and lobbies for this right.
OpenAid is now member of the technical advisory group to the International Aid Transparency Initiative! We will participate at the TAG meeting and the AidData conference in Oxford in March.
Development aid is all about politics and politics is all about convincing an audience to support our cause. With the advent of the Internet information is at everybody's fingertips. In fact, information has become so easily obtained that we often forget that in order to convince our audience we first have to make them understand the information and its implications. Steve Krug teaches us in Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability that internet users don't read our web pages, they merely scan them for interesting information. In the fraction of a second we have to both catch their attention and get our message across.