How Online Tools can Boost Aid Transparency

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Over the last few years, calls for greater transparency in aid have been on the rise. Global humanitarian aid and development flows top more than $100 billion annually, but data on where aid money goes has been historically difficult to find. Information about aid resources often doesn’t become available until after projects have been completed, and is sometimes incomplete or not available at all.

This makes it especially difficult for ministries in developing countries to plan and manage budgets based on these resources. It is also difficult for donors to make informed decisions about where and when their aid dollars would be effectively used. Fortunately, a new tool called d-portal is tracking data on who is funding what, where, and to what effect.

d-portal is a country-based, open source platform introduced by UK-based Development Initiatives. The site tracks aid flows around the world, showing which countries are donating and receiving money and how it is spent. d-portal combines the most recent up-to-date data published by the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and the OECD DAC Creditor Reporting System.

It was set up to enable developing country ministries, parliamentarians, and civil society to monitor where resources come from and where they go, exposing gaps in the provision and distribution of aid. d-portal is unique from other aid databases because it is set up in a visually simple way and the data is continually updated. It also provides detailed data from more organizations, with over 280 publishers from IATI alone.

 

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d-portal was developed so that users could easily view data by country to understand in-country needs. Anyone can create country profiles showing income and spending, and view how countries are performing on specific development metrics. This central, easy-to-navigate platform has allowed Development Initiatives to discover some important findings. For example, many social programs in developing countries are seriously underfunded, with only 20% of needs financed in the world’s least developed countries.

Development Initiatives is hopeful that this type of information can bring awareness of the need and importance of programs such as social protection in global poverty reduction. Overall, d-portal shows users how aid flows around the world, and which organizations are actively publishing data. It also helps users share information they find by making it easy to embed tables, charts and maps into websites and blog posts.

Photo2d-portal was built to make development and aid data simple for a wide audience to access and understand. The site acts as a single platform where multiple data sets can be used by anyone. In addition, it has also been designed as open source so it can be freely adapted to include datasets and information specific to one country.

In fact, a company in Nepal called YoungInnovations has already created a Nepal-specific d-portal to display country specific data. d-portal represents the first step in combining data about resource flows into one place. The potential for future expansion and customization could place even more transparent, relevant, and local information in the hands of aid stakeholders around the world.

 

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Valerie Busch

Valerie Busch

Valerie is a development professional based in Toronto, Ontario.

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