In another blow for French development aid policy, Publish What You Fund has placed France near the bottom of its 2014 international rankings for aid transparency. EURACTIV France reports.
The Aid Transparency Index ranks the 68 biggest aid agencies, including those from Europe and the United States, but also multilateral organisations like the World Bank or the Gates Foundation (a partner of EURACTIV).
The overall picture of transparency in development aid given by these rankings is less than outstanding: “almost a third of the organisations included in the 2014 ATI (22 out of 68) are classed as ‘very poor’,” Publish What You Fund stresses.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) comes top of the list, while China occupies the bottom position for the second year running.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France’s top performer
The Index is not flattering for France’s aid agencies. Leaping up the rankings to 28th place, from 52nd in 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the highest performing French agency in 2014.
The other two French agencies, the AFD (French Development Agency) and MINEFI (Ministry of Economy and Finance) come in 44th and 58th place respectively.
Lack of ambition criticised
All three French aid agencies were singled out for their lack of ambition.
The AFD is the only French agency to be classed as “quite ambitious”, while the ambitions of the other two agencies were judged “non-existent”.
Christian Reboul, spokesperson for development aid for Oxfam France, said that “transparency is vital for efficiency in delivering aid, so this poor performance is very worrying”.
Strong point of French policy
According to Annick Girardin, French Secretary of State for Development and Francophonie, transparency is one of the strong points of French development aid policy.
The secretary of state announced the year’s progress in the French parliament on 8 October. “We have launched a website to improve transparency in aid to Mali, which brings together all the data on projects in the country funded by French aid. This allows us to follow the development of projects on the ground,” the Secretary of State explained.
The website for aid to Mali has been replicated for Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania, all priority countries for French aid.
In the long term, France aims to broaden this transparency initiative to cover all 16 of its priority countries for development aid, a solution judged as “partial” by the organisation Publish What You Fund. They would like to see the same transparency applied to all of France’s aid recipients.
"France is far from exemplary in terms of aid transparency. The ministries and departments concerned (Treasury, French Development Agency) refuse to develop a real policy of transparency by carrying out the president's commitment made at the G8 in June 2013 to respect international standards and publish all the data on French aid," said Christian Reboul, spokesperson of Oxfam France for development aid and administrator of the French NGO platform, Coordination SUD.
"Transparency is at the heart of the way we work," claimed Helen Clark, the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). "The UNDP is at the forefront of global efforts to increase transparency in development cooperation, including through efforts to develop further the IATI common standard for publishing information about aid spending. In accordance with the common standard, we are continuing to increase the transparency of our own work by delivering expanded information on our financial flows and projects at open.undp.org."
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is used by donor countries, governments of developed countries and NGOs in order to publish detailed and accessible information to all on international development aid.
Today, the majority of international aid donors (World Bank, European Commission, UK, etc.) use this format.