French development aid playing catch-up in terms of transparency

somalia money stacks

Stacks of the Somali shilling [tristam sparks/Flickr]

The International Aid Transparency Initiative’s (IATI) annual report has shown increased global development aid transparency improved last year but France, one of the world’s biggest donors, is still lagging behind. EURACTIV France reports.

Launched in 2011 to mark the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (Busan, 2011), the initiative aims to increase accessibility to information on development aid, especially for countries that receive aid and for civil society organisations, by establishing a new format. The popularity of the initiative grew in 2013 and it is now being used by international aid donors like the World Bank and European Commission.

Common standard

In an annual report published on 7 May, the IATI highlighted an increase in the number of signatories for its initiative. Five members, the Adaption Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bond, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Global Environment Facility (GEF), committed to publish their data in the IATI’s format.

They bring the total number of members to 59. But the establishment of the new format remains marginal because only 29 of the members have actually published their data.The idea is to improve transparency of development aid by publishing more information. The study emphasised that it will also contribute to fighting corruption “in the supply chain between donors and targeted recipients.”

Other members of the ITAI include an increasing number of foundations, NGOs and, since 2013, private companies committing to publishing data of their activities.

“It is now important that donors continue to improve the quality of their data,” said Jeannet Lingan, head of advocacy at the Publish What You Fund group, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for aid transparency.

EU member states in transition

Many EU member states have already signed the initiative and adopted the new international norm, including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Italy and France are still in the process of becoming members. In June 2013, France belatedly committed to put in place the common norm along with other members of the G8.

France has still not fully published its data but the launch of a French website on development aid in Mali is seen as significant progress. The French government has plans to spread this to the other 16 priority states where it sends the majority of its aid.

Despite these recent efforts, France does not have a great record in terms of aid transparency. In October 2013, PublishWhatYouFund’s 2013 Aid Transparency Index (ATI) put France as one of the worse international aid donors for transparency.

The three public agencies in charge of France’s development aid were placed 49th, 52th and 53th out of a total of 67 similar international agencies.

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.

France and Japan are the only large international aid donors not to have adopted this norm. The IADI wants this standard to be completely adopted by the largest international aid donors by 2015.

  • December 2015: deadline for the complete application of the IATI's common standard?

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