The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation are jointly supporting efforts to improve access to information on how international aid resources are being spent. Unless aid can be traced all the way down the chain to its intended beneficiaries, it is difficult to monitor the impact it is having. Ensuring that we can get transaction-level data (ie data on who is actually getting the funds) is thus a first step towards increasing the impact of aid on poverty reduction.
Progress on aid transparency is advancing rapidly, thanks to the momentum created by the launch of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) during the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana in September 2008. The signatories of the IATI have committed themselves to agree and implement an international aid information standard that will make it easier for everyone to access more detailed, comparable and timely data. To date, IATI has 15 donor signatories, including bilateral and multilateral governmental organizations such as the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank and the Government of the Netherlands, and the Hewlett Foundation. An IATI Conference is being planned for mid-2009, and other organizations, both governmental and foundations, will be encouraged to sign up then.
In November 2008, the IATI held its first Steering Committee meeting in Paris, where it was agreed that DFID would host the IATI Secretariat, and that the Initiative would be governed by a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee, with guidance and oversight from a Technical Advisory Group. By the end of 2009, after broad consultation with both aid donors and recipients, this Advisory Group will propose a set of common definitions and a format to facilitate the sharing of aid information.
Over the course of the coming year, the Hewlett Foundation will continue to support IATI through a grant to the UK-based group Development Initiatives, which is providing technical assistance to the Advisory Group.