13 July 2011

Campaign for aid transparency makes an impact in Paris

On 7 July 2011 the Make Aid Transparent campaign delivered a petition calling for greater transparency in aid to the co-chairs of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development Working Party on Aid Effectiveness.

The Make Aid Transparent campaign is a coalition of civil society organisations that have come together to call on donors to publish more and better information about the aid they give. The coalition encourages donors to disclose aid information regularly and promptly and in a standardised format that will be comparable to other countries and accessible to all. There are now 5313 individual signatories to the campaign from 115 countries.

Aid is an important and limited resource and as the biggest recipient of international aid, Africa has a vested interest in ensuring the transparency of aid donations.

A lack of aid transparency means that no one is really sure how much money is spent on aid, where the money is spent and on what. This can lead to a duplication of efforts by donors and result in a lack of planning capacity for governments in recipient countries that are unable to plan long term projects without funding projections, ultimately hindering development. For example, a study conducted by EURODAD found that in 2007 the Sierra Leone government received US$26 million less from donors than it budgeted for, much of which had been earmarked for spending on poverty reduction.

Indeed during the OECD Working Party plenary session delegates from Ghana, Zambia, Rwanda and the DRC, amongst others, reportedly spoke strongly about the importance of increased donor transparency for their development efforts.

Furthermore, greater transparency from aid donors would assist in addressing issues of corruption faced by many African countries, where allegations of government officials hijacking aid funds for their personal use are rife.

Some of the largest aid donors to civil society in South Africa are the United States and the World Bank. In particular those aid monies are often distributed to organisations promoting democracy and good governance. An assessment undertaken by Publish What You Fund concluded that the United States was below average in aid transparency, with particularly poor scores in relation to the availability of aid information to civil society organisations. The World Bank, on the other hand, received the highest score for transparency of all those donors assessed.

The Make Aid Transparent campaign will culminate at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea at the end of the year, where donors will be judged on their progress towards keeping promises to increase the transparency of their aid.

To find out more about the campaign or to become a signatory click here.