Monday, June 11, 2012

Access to information policy to make World Bank more transparent

The common people to whom the aid is targeted can share their views of the projects funded by the World Bank in their locality through social network sites like Facebook soon, as the multilateral donor has started opening up its information system regarding projects, data and finances.
"The World Bank has started to open up itself for the public some two years ago under its Access to Information policy," said External Operational Communications of the World Bank Sumir Lal.
At a time, when the effectiveness of foreign aid has been questioned from various quarters of both the recipient and donors, the World Bank has come up with aid transparency for more accountability through people's participation called Open Development approach.
The Open Development initiative is an open data and knowledge, open operations and tools and open solutions, the World Bank said, adding that it is committed to providing accessibility, easy-to-use data, and unprecedented information and documents to the public. "Broad access to the data will allow citizens, Community Social Organisations (CSOs), policy makers, advocacy groups and other stakeholders to make better-informed decisions and to measure the improvements more accurately."
The Access to Information policy represents a fundamental shift in the World Bank's approach to making information publicly available, Lal said, adding that the policy recognises the centrality of transparency and accountability to the development process and includes principled commitments to strengthen public ownership and oversight of the World Bank-financed operations.
Nepal has been receiving foreign aid since 1950 for development activities but it has not been able to make justice for overall development.
Aid could not be streamlined — due to lack of transparency — with national priorities further increasing dependency of the country rather than making the country independent over the last half century.
In such a case, transparency will ensure both the donor and recipient to know whether the aid money has been making any impact or not. Large sum of development aid often go missing and the donors are also often handicapped due to the lack of effective feedback from the receivers.
On one hand, the receiving countries like Nepal fails to maintain transparency, and on the other, the donors themselves have also not been serious in maintaining transparency leading to more suspicion on the effectiveness, according to the International Aid Transparency Initiative pilot Aid Transparency Index 2011 that revealed none of the 58 donor agencies that it surveyed ranked ‘good’ meaning most transparent.
"Only nine agencies achieved a score of over 60 per cent, earning the classification ‘fair’, the report stated adding that the World Bank-IDA was the fairest among the nine fair agencies it had surveyed. "Some nine agencies have been featured in moderate category, 25 were featured in poor category and 15 donors were featured in the very poor aid transparency category in the index on the basis of 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."

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