Ensuring effective aid delivery
Understanding key features of how aid is delivered may also help mitigate some of the potentially harmful impacts of aid on domestic accountability systems and actors. This includes ensuring that:
- • Donors can be held to account by aid recipient countries, which means greater transparency and co-ordination by donors;
- • Donor budget support is integrated into partners’ domestic budget management systems and to co-ordinate in-country performance assessment arrangements; and
- • The mix of aid instruments and cross-linkages among them foster synergies.
These issues are discussed below.
Greater donor transparency and co-ordination
Landmark aid effectiveness agreements at Paris, Accra and Busan have impelled donors to make aid information more transparent and accessible to development partners (OECD, 2005/2008; Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, 2011). This helps governments and civil society understand what is being financed and where, and enables them to exercise proper oversight over public budgets. It also fosters accountability between donors and partner country actors for promises and commitments that have been made. Making aid information about aid and development co-operation activities more widely available can also facilitate better co-ordination, inform shared data analysis and political economy analyses and improve the division of labour across the local donor community.
The GOVNET case studies found evidence in Mali, Mozambique and Uganda of more accurate aid data being made available, often as a result of budget support frameworks and more ad hoc reforms. This seems to be particularly the case at the sectoral level, where sector working groups have established structured dialogue and information exchange between donors and a range of domestic stakeholders.
In Uganda, for example, the creation of a simplified reporting spreadsheet for donors in the Local Development Partners Group helped to capture - in one document - quarterly donor commitments and actual disbursements, searchable by sector. This echoes trends in other countries towards the better sharing of information about aid flows and development co-operation activities and attempts to collate it in usable ways, for example through management policies or platforms (Box 4.2).
An important step-change is now possible thanks to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), under which 28 international donors1 have so far agreed to provide more accurate, timely and comprehensive information on development co-operation commitments and disbursements (Box 4.2).
While the work of IATI and others represent significant improvements, some challenges remain. For example, donors often do not provide information in ways which are compatible with how governments record information (Moon and Williamson, 2010). Moreover, there has been little focus on helping partner countries strengthen their ability to interpret and use development co-operation data - a critical constraint for improving local capacity to hold government and the donor community to account.
Box 4.2. Making information on aid more transparent:
Some recent initiatives
International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI): IATI is developing international standards for the way donors report information about aid spending. These will include:
- • agreement on what information will be publish and its level of detail;
- • a system for categorising different types of aid spending/commitments;
- • a common electronic format making it easier to share information; and
- • a code of conduct guiding what information donors will publish and how frequently, how users may expect to access that information, and how donors will be held accountable for compliance.
Aid management platforms: aid management platforms are web-based applications that allow governments to better manage and co-ordinate development assistance. Software developed by the Development Gateway Foundation provides a virtual workspace where governments and donors can share aid information - from planning through to implementation - and then analyse this by donor, sector, status, region, timing and other factors. This is being complemented by other programmes, such as Mapping for Results (http://data.worldbank.org) developed by the World Bank Institute (WBI). This overlays the distribution of World Bank resources for programmes at country level with poverty statistics to ensure resources are hitting the right areas. These results are then shown on an interactive map. WBI is now working with IATI to incorporate all donor allocations into one map, which can be made readily available online.