The donors that are forcing government to be transparent are themselves 'not really' transparent, according to the International Aid Transparency Initiative's (IATI) pilot Aid Transparency Index 2011.
"None of the 58 donors agencies surveyed made it into the ranking's top category 'good', it said, adding that only nine agencies achieved a score of over 60 per cent, earning the classification 'fair'.
World Bank-IDA topped the list among the nine fair agencies, whereas equal number featured in the moderate category, but 25 are featured in the poor category and 15 donors featured in the very poor aid transparency category in the index published for the first time.
The Index assessed availability of specific information items at organisational, country, and activity level for 58 donor organisations, including bilateral and multilateral donors, International Financial Institutions, and private foundations. "While no organisation made it into the top group (above 80 per cent), the World Bank received an overall score of 78 per cent — more than double the average score of 34 per cent — ranking the most transparent donor agency," the report added.
Despite their commitment, the majority of organisations need to make faster progress in publishing timely, comprehensive or comparable information about the development assistance they give, the report suggested. The aid transparency would fundamentally strengthen their ability to coordinate efforts and reduce overlap, waste and inefficiency, it added.
There are a number of organisations where lack of disclosure made it challenging to be sure whether the sampled information is representative, the IATI said, adding that some organisations may have over-performed in the index because transparency of information on their largest activities in their largest recipient countries may not be representative of their activities as a whole.Generally, the level of information availability is disappointingly low, according to the IATI that was launched at the High Level Forum 3 in Accra three years ago.
Some 22 partner countries including Nepal have already endorsed IATI.
Six years after the Paris Declaration, there is a distinct lack of political and technical leadership, particularly given the series of 'beginning now' commitments made on aid transparency in 2008 in the Accra Agenda for Action. With the exception of overall activity or project costs, very few donors are systematically disclosing detailed activity level information.
The 2011 Aid Transparency Index looks at 37 indicators of aid transparency at the organisation, country, and activity level. The availability of aid information was assessed by Publish What You Fund working in partnership with 49 civil society organisations (CSOs) and in consultation with donor agencies.The average score was 34 per cent, demonstrating how much more donors need to do collectively to increase the transparency and thus the potential effectiveness of their development assistance.
Taxpayers in developed countries facing the effects of dramatic austerity measures have started questioning the rationale for giving money to other developing nations and they are more inclined to demand strong fiduciary systems and evidence of impact.
Last week's global event in Busan, South Korea — the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness — also discussed at searching for a new consensus on development cooperation with transparency.
The report has recommended the donors to increase political will and action – using the Aid Effectiveness Agenda as a springboard — publish what they have, build systems to collect what they don’t and make sure it is all accessible and Aid actors must rally round the common IATI standard and increase its coverage for the effectiveness.
The donors in Busan last week — following the IATI's suggestions to commit to publish timely, comprehensive and comparable information on aid by 2015 — vowed to be more transparent.
IATI, a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase the transparency of aid in order to maximise effectiveness is governed by a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee and administered by a small secretariat currently hosted by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID).
The IATI — that receives funding from Finland, Ireland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Australia, Spain, Norway and the UK — has 22 signatories including Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, African Development Bank, ADB, EC, International Fund for Agricultural Development, UNDP, UN Office for Project Services apart from Canada and US that have been regular as observers at IATI meetings.