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Open Knowledge Foundation

"The new source of power is not money in the hands of a few, but information in the hands of many."

John Naisbitt, researcher and author on Megatrends

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
IATI data released by the BMZ on 31 of March 2014

In which countries are German NGOs active to fight global poverty? Until a few days ago there was no way of answering this questions. Neither could you find out whether an NGO supports agriculture or health or education projects, how large their project budgets are and how much money has already been disbursed. This has changed now! Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Screenshot from D-Portal Website

People keep complaining that IATI data is hard to use. I have received phone calls from non-techies (like myself) who are absolutely appalled when opening an IATI XML file for the first time: "But I cannot read this!" Yes, we need better tools to use IATI. But fear not. There are people all around the world who are working on making open data generally and IATI data in particular more useful. Read more »

The end of open aid?

12 Mar 2014
Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
 Source: Jimmedia - Flickr

Aren’t you finished with OpenAid soon? I hear some friends ask. Is the open aid hype not finished soon? I hear open data researchers wonder? Is open aid not too narrow a focus I hear activists suggest? These questions are real questions from real people, not just hypothetical questions used for the sake of rhetoric. It may not surprise you, but from my point of view, the answer to these questions is “No”. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Image uploaded by Claudia Schwegmann on 25 Oct 2013 - 10:00

Is there anybody out there who really thinks aid transparency is not important? Are there still policy makers in Germany and other OECD countries who would publicly support aid opacity as a best practice in development cooperation. Probably not. But even five years after the international community in Accra vowedto make aid more transparent, progress is still mixed. Today, the International Campaign for Aid Transparency PublishWhatYouFund released its 2013 Aid Transparency Index and German aid organisations are certainly not the champions.

The most transparent donor in the world is the Millennium Challenge Cooperation in the US, followed by the GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership to focussing on vaccines in poor countries, the British Department for International Development(DFID)and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Only these four donors are very good, when it comes to aid transparency. And out of the 67 donor agencies analysed in the Index, only five additional donors get a good rating including Canada, Sweden and the World Bank. All the 58 donors assessed have still some way to go to be transparent. 16 donors are in the "fair" category, 16 donors in the "poor" category and 26 donors in the "very poor" category. So, Germany is clearly not among the most transparent donors. But how does Germany rank then? Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Image uploaded by Claudia Schwegmann on 7 Oct 2013 - 14:21

It has been a long time in coming. But the German government is now definitely making progress on open data in development cooperation. Last week, just in time for our national holiday, the German ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has published its second batch of open and standardised data. So, whoever is interested can now find out how much how bilateral official development aid (ODA) the ministry is currently giving to developing countries.

Not a big deal? Well, until March this year, there was no way, either for German citizens, or for citizens in recipient countries to get current information on where German aid money is spent. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann

So you think open data is a new hype in a few western countries? It is true that it is some so countries, particularly the UK and the US that are making big strides ahead in providing open and machine readable data to their citizens. It is also true that out of the 41 countries globally with open data initiatives only 12 are from so called developing countries. But the situation is quickly changing and more and more developing countries are recognising the value of open data. Countries like Kenya, Morocco, Mexico, Peru and India are more advanced in open data than the German government. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Image uploaded by Claudia Schwegmann on 7 May 2013 - 10:49

Germany has just published its first batch of open data according to the standard of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). The term open data refers to quantitative and qualitative data that is machine readible and openly licenced, so that third parties are able and allowed to reuse the data. There is an growing awareness among politicans, companies and civil society organisations, that open data is indeed a paradigm shift in exploiting the value of information. This is also true for development cooperation. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Image by fdecomite (flickr)

Some of us have been waiting a long time for this to happen. Germany has published its first set of aid information to the International Aid Transparency Initiative. At last! It is particularly good news as Germany was among the first signatories to IATI in September 2008, and the road to publication has been long. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Watch video

In the previous blogpost I described the main reasons why it is in the interest of NGOs to publish their data in the IATI standard. NGOs will not have to publish all data fields proposed by the IATI standard because many of those fields are not applicable. To provide a minimum level of detail, NGOs should at least provide the following information: Activity Number/Project ID, Title, Project Description, funding organisation or donor, location, other organizations involved, the total project value in financial terms, the dates and values of expenditures, dates and values of disbursements, the start and end date of a project and links to related project documents that are already published.

The effort and costs involved to actually implement the IATI standard will vary from one NGO to another. For smaller and even mid-size NGOs the use of online tools for implementation is a very good option to keep costs and hassle low.The data can be entered either manually or by uploading an excell spreadsheet. Watch this video of the OpenAidRegister on how your NGO can publish to IATI.
Alternatively you may also check out the Aidstream website and publish your data via this tool. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Photo: bionicteaching

"My CEO will tear off my head,
if I suggest to him that we implement IATI."

These were the precise words of a senior policy person of a big German NGO when I presented IATI some 18 months ago. In the past, reactions of other NGO representatives have been less drastic but still very clearly negative. But times are changing! In the last few months the OpenAid project continued the exchange with NGO representatives. There seems to be a growing willingness to talk about IATI. At the award ceremony of the PricewaterhouseCooper German Transparency Price for non-profits I was able to present IATI in the keynote and discuss with a number of CEOS and the reaction was much more positive than anticipated. Likewise at the workshop on IATI organised by VENRO and OpenAid the response by participants was overwhelmingly positive. The NGO representatives at the workshop acknowledged the value of IATI, but still worried how to make a convincing case for IATI within their organisations. So what is the business case for IATI? Why should NGOs in Germany and in other donor countries publish their data to IATI? Read more »

Thanks for this text,

Thanks for this text, Claudia. It really sums up the main arguments and hopefully will make some people think about IATI and related questions. With regard to Germany, it's great that your effort in this area seems to really push some boundaries at present. Hope you'll keep on!

Thanks a lot, Claire! Yes,

Thanks a lot, Claire! Yes, OpenAid will continue

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Congratulations to BMZ!

At last! It is done! Germany has published its plan to implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). In February 2011 this initiative of bilateral and multilateral donors agreed a common data standard to increase aid effectiveness. Many donors have long since published their data to the IATI registry and the implementation schedule from the German ministry for economic cooperation and development (BMZ) has been long overdue. This delay has been reflected in the negative rating of Germany in the international Aid Transparency Index in November 2012. Now, just a few days before Christmas it became public! Congratulations to BMZ and all those colleagues who worked on this! This is a very important step towards more transparency in development cooperation. The Excel sheet containing the implementation schedule may look extremely boring, but it is important in two regards: Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Watch video

Transparency of individual organisations is important but it is not enough. The consulting company PricewaterhouseCooper has developed a standard for transparent reporting of NGOs in Germany and awards the German Transparency Price for the most transparent NGO in the social sector. In November, for the 7th time, the award ceremony took place to honour those NGOs in Germany that provide comprehensive and detailed information about their work. During this ceremony, I was able to present the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)as the next step in transparency. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Photo by Matthileo

The interesting thing about arguments against open data is, that is is really similar to arguments against innovation in other areas, the first personal computer, the invention of telephones and early research on aeroplanes. Reflecting about the many discussions on open data and particularly the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) since 2009 I have identified 7 very popular arguments against innovation. The following article describing these arguments was first publised in the Digital Development Debates Magazine: Read more »

You can do IATI!

27 Nov 2012
Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Photo: PnP!

Who will be the first German NGO to publish to the International Aid Transparency Initiative? Until now your non-profit organisation can still be the IATI pioneer in Germany. In order to inform German non-profit organisations about IATI the German network of NGOs working in development cooperation VENRO is inviting its members to an IATI workshop on the 4th of December in Bonn. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Open Development Stream at Okfest in Helsinki

In October 2011 the Open Knowledge Foundation organised its big annual Open Government Data Conference in Warsaw, Poland. After the conference a small group of people interested in development cooperation and development gathered in a side event in Warsaw to discuss where we stood in “open development”. What a contrast to the Open Knowledge Festival in September 2012 in Helsinki! Development was one of the main streams of the conference and over seventy participants attended primarily the development stream. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Open Knowledge Festival

According to Beth Noveck open data can probably not make government more transparent and accountable. Instead, she holds the value of open data is primarily in making use of the wisdom of crowds to solve complex problems in society. Opening up data, she explains, allows third parties to make sense of existing data, create sense through data mash-ups or create public attention for hitherto neglected problems.

This week the biggest open data and open knowledge event ever will take place in Helsinki, Finland, organised by the Open Knowledge Foundation and a network of open data enthusiasts from around the world. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Image uploaded by Claudia Schwegmann on 24 Jul 2012 - 10:09

Open knowledge – from open educational resources, to open hardware and open data – can play a powerful role in supporting sustainable global development. At the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki development practitioners from around the world will come together to explore how open knowledge can make development cooperation more effective and help to address key development challenges like chronic poverty, access to education and natural resource management.
In the development stream we will these topics: Read more »

Publish it!

20 Jun 2012
Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Image uploaded by Claudia Schwegmann on 20 Jun 2012 - 09:56

Corruption in development cooperation is not the favourite topic of donor agencies. But the willingness to address this thorny topic is growing. On the 13th of June the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) launched its new anti corruption strategy and invited about 100 corruption experts from governmental and private organisations to discuss it. The strategy is based on multi-stakeholder consultations and clearly demonstrates the political will of the BMZ to tackle this major obstacle to development. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Boyd Norten, 1973, Flickr

Climate change has a dramatic impact on the development perspectives in poor countries. In recent years the number of mechanisms to finance programmes to reduce climate change and to manage its impact has increased sharply. Aidinfo and Publish What You Fund in the UK have financed research on the transparency of climate finance. In a guest post from Alex Beech from aidinfo introduces this piece of research. Read more »

Posted by Claudia Schwegmann
Watch video

On the 2nd of May aidinfo (UK) hosted an event in London on aid transparency with Brian Atwood, the current chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee. This blog post by Alexandra Beech from aidinfo highlights key elements of Brian Atwoods presentation and the discussion.

It is no exaggeration to suggest that the (transparency) movement…will produce the most important transformation in the 50 years of modern development experience. Transparency will lead us to new achievements in poverty reduction.