Implementing aid transparency in Sweden – white paper, part 1: Why do we care about aid transparency and IATI?

Introduction

As the Open Data Conference gathers in Ottawa on May 28th-29th to explore, collaborate and chart the future of open data, we would like to take the opportunity to share our experiences of transparency and IATI from a donor perspective. This white paper will be published in a series of four blog posts, but will also be available as a shorter, more concise PDF-version. Our aim is to contribute to the global aid transparency community with our experiences and hopefully inspire others to stay on track – or join – what is an important aspect of the data revolution for sustainable development.
 
The four blog posts will cover the following topics:
1. Why do we care about aid transparency and IATI?
2. How to get started publishing using the IATI standard as a bilateral donor agency
3. Challenges
4. Keys to success and the road ahead
 

Implementing aid transparency in Sweden, part 1:


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Why do we care about aid transparency and IATI?

Building on Sweden’s long tradition of transparency, our public access principles are amongst the most important pillars of Swedish democracy. Initiatives such as Openaid contributes to achieving even more open, inclusive, accountable and responsive development and it can drive political debate and opinion about aid priorities. Sida’s efforts in using open data is a government priority to promote transparency and accountability of Swedish aid, but it also serves to improve other donors and partner countries development efforts. Aid transparency allows for better coordination of donor spending to achieve maximum impact with limited resources and it offers possibilities to increase aid effectiveness, accountability and improve results. It also makes it easier for recipient governments to better plan and execute their spending and development efforts in settings where multiple actors are active.

To honor our Busan commitments of publishing all our data and contribute to aid transparency and effectiveness, Sida is working toward improving both the amount and quality of data that is being published. By making our data available in the IATI standard we join other organizations that together enable analysis of datasets from various sources. The benefits of a common standard is demonstrated in applications constantly being developed based on the IATI datasets. A good example is the Mohinga platform for aid flows to Myanmar that allows for the people of Myanmar to see the impact of aid activities in their communities.

When data is being open to public scrutiny it also increases the demand on us to improve and maintain high quality data. The ambition and pressure to provide data that is up to date and of high quality forces us to constantly be aware of flaws and improve the data reporting process.

– The process of implementing transparency and the IATI standard drives quality as it has forced us to take a hard look at our own data and learn from it, says transparency manager at Sida, Carl Elmstam.

Throughout the organization, the employees are becoming more and more aware of how important it is that they provide good and reliable data, not only for ourselves, but for global development cooperation and partner countries especially.

 


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