Help Make 2011 the Year of Aid Transparency

See below for a guest post from Amy Barry, Campaigns Director for Publish What You Fund. The Aid Transparency Campaign kicks off next Wednesday, 6/8–stay tuned for updates.

This year development campaigners have an unprecedented opportunity to make progress on a vitally important but not much talked about issue. Aid transparency. We hear a lot about aid volumes, and a fair amount about problems such as corruption and waste, but greater transparency could make aid more effective, and increase public trust and support.

If aid donors published more and better information about the aid they give, they could coordinate their efforts, and ensure that there was no overlap and that existing gaps were filled. Governments and citizens in developing countries could use the information to plan better and target their own spending effectively. And taxpayers in donor countries could be sure that their money was making the biggest possible difference.

Donors are supportive of the idea of increasing transparency, and have pledged to do so. At the end of the year in Korea at the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, they will have the opportunity to measure their progress. This is also a key moment for campaigners to hold them to account.

A handful of donors have proven already that transparency is possible by joining the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), publishing their implementation plans and actively disclosing aid information. The UK’s Department For International Development, the Hewlett Foundation and The World Bank are the aid-transparency leaders who have published their aid information to the IATI Registry.

In a joint statement last month the US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to be “open, transparent and accountable in how we are spending our taxpayers’ money […] so the public – both at home and abroad – are able to access clear, comparable information about our aid programs.” The World Bank has also recently reaffirmed its commitment to aid transparency.

These moves are welcome but other countries are lagging behind, jeopardizing the benefits that could be realized if all aid donors kept their promises. The momentum needs to be kept up, and those lagging behind need encouragement to redouble their efforts.

For this reason, Publish What You Fund is launching a campaign with other organisations, calling on donors to increase the transparency of their aid. The campaign goes live on June 8, with a petition and animation and will culminate at the meeting in December. We need your help to make it a success. Organisations who want to join the campaign and promote to their members should email me on amy.barry@publishwhatyoufund.org. The petition will go live on June 8 at www.makeaidtransparent.org.

A big public push for aid transparency now will demonstrate the appetite for change and encourage donors to reach their targets. This will turn aid transparency from an aspiration into a reality.

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