After some hurdles, France has relaunched its website dedicated to the transparency of development aid in Mali.
Since 31 January, French and Malian citizens have access to a new website on aid transparency in Mali, a tool which monitors the implementation of development projects and humanitarian emergencies financed by France in Mali.
“This website is the result of a commitment to France’s transparency on public development aid,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry stated.
The initiative had a bad start. Launched in September 2013, the website was criticised by NGOs because it did not meet the international standards of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), to which France had committed at the June 2013 G8 meeting.
“So far France has dragged its feet on the adoption of this international standard,” the development minister, Pascal Canfin, admitted at the foreign affairs committee of the French parliament on 28 June.
The standard, widely used by international donors such as the World Bank, the EU Commission or the UK, must now be extended to 16 other priority countries by the end of 2014: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Togo, and Senegal.
“We conducted a pilot project in Mali in September 2013 and we are legally committed to extend it to the 16 poor priority countries, which receive our aid,” the minister confirmed.
The French commitment to transparency will also be enshrined in a law on development and international solidarity, which is currently under discussion in parliament.
Several NGOs such as Oxfam France welcomed the new website which “finally complies with IATI’s international standards”.
“This is a big step forward and in the right direction,” said David Hall-Matthews, the director of the NGO 'Publish what you fund'.
“By publishing aid data according to a common standard, we can begin to track financial flows of development assistance throughout the process,” he added.
“We look forward to France continuing to publish its development aid according to IATI and for that practice to be widespread across the countries where France acts.”
“The road is still long to reach full and true transparency of all French public aid and its traceability, a commitment made by the French president at the last G8 summit last year. The government must continue its efforts to ensure that this commitment is respected internationally following the example of the website for Mali,” Christian Reboul from Oxfam France said.
Friederike Röder, director of ONE France called for this approach to be enshrined in the future law on development and international solidarity,
“The law should incorporate the objectives of transparency for all the help, not only for priority countries for French help.”
The Malian government is seeking around €2 billion in development aid to help fund a roadmap to keep the peace and help restore infrastructure in the country.
An EU-led donor conference agreed to provide €3.25 billion to fund a sweeping development plan for Mali, but European donors made clear that the interim government must live up to its promises to democratic and social reforms in exchange for the international lifeline.