We Deserve to Know what’s really Happening in Aid Projects: the Fight for Greater Transparency in Aid

Transparency will make aid much more effective  

If we wish to see the effective, accountable use of aid throughout the world, we need to push for greater transparency.

We are living in an age of astonishing global inequality. Hundreds of millions of people throughout the world are living in extreme poverty while the number of billionaires has never been higher. There is a lot of work being done by NGOs, charities and governmental organisations to deliver aid and funds to those in need. However, many aid organisations have been accused of misusing or misplacing funds in the past and this highlights the severe importance of increasing the transparency of where funds are being invested. This is just one of the many reasons we must push for greater regulations and practices promoting open data standards for global aid.

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Greater transparency will enable us to achieve higher levels of aid effectiveness and create a culture of accountability. The World Bank’s Sanctions and Suspension Office, which keeps track of cases related to aid, found extensive evidence of fraud and corruption. In fact, in between 2007 and 2012, investigations unveiled that fraud or corruption existed in 157 contracts worth $245 million. Of course, we must note the hidden figure of crime in such statistics and acknowledge the corruption that remains undiscovered. The Center for Global Development state that if we spend more time tracing the usage and dissemination of aid funding, we will be able to tackle corruption effectively. Thus, if we wish to see effective, accountable use of aid throughout the world, we need to push for greater transparency.

Women are suffering and we need aid transparency to ensure the right work is being done in the right places

Women’s economic empowerment is essential to decreasing poverty globally, and aid organisations must be transparent and held accountable for their funding in such areas.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty globally. They are much more likely than men to be deprived of education, food, sanitary equipment, paid work and healthcare. According to Oxford International, women are affected by poverty more deeply than men in the form of unpaid care work, lack of decent work, lower wages and longer workdays. Gender inequality in the economy costs women in the developing world approximately $9 trillion every year. If aid was delivered to girls and women effectively, actively providing them with education, healthcare and enabling their employment in safe environments, entire communities, families and economies could be uplifted. For this reason, the United Nations has listed gender equality as an important Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) if we wish to create a more equal, peaceful and prosperous world.

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Abundant evidence suggests that countries with higher levels of gender equality tend to have much lower levels of poverty and stronger economies. For instance, in Latin America, the increase of women coming into paid employment from 2000-2010 led to a 30% decrease in poverty. Thus, women’s economic empowerment is essential to decreasing poverty globally, and aid organisations must be transparent and held accountable for their funding in such areas. In order to enact effective change through aid, we must have a solid evidence-base on how much is being spent on gender-related aid projects and what areas the funding is being allocated to. Furthermore, there must also be follow-up reports, statistics and data which highlight the effectiveness of varying gender equality projects. This will empower aid organisations with the knowledge of where greater funding in required, what techniques are ineffective and what aspects of aid have proven to be highly useful.

The work that is being done to create greater aid transparency

Publish What You Fund found there was little information on aid that could be used for effective decision-making, leading onto the risk of donors duplicating efforts in some areas and leaving others under-funded.

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In October 2011, a non-profit organisation, Publish What You Fund, created the Pilot Aid Transparency Index in order to implement the systematic assessment of aid transparency. Publish What You Fund found there was little information on aid that could be used for effective decision-making, leading onto the risk of donors duplicating efforts in some areas and leaving others under-funded. Furthermore, this lack of information also meant that donors weren’t being held accountable and civil society was largely uninformed of what resources were coming into their country, even though they have the right to have access to such information.

In 2016, after five years of the creation of the Aid Transparency Index, Publish What You Fund found that there was a 25% increase in the transparency standard of aid. Furthermore, by June 2020, the Aid Transparency Index showed significant improvement in aid donors’ transparency in comparison to 2018. This tells us that the efforts to make aid more transparent are moving in the right direction and the work of organisations such as Publish What You Fund is integral in this movement.

The global fight to tackle gender inequality is intimately linked to the fight for aid transparency, and we must push for greater transparency if we wish to have access to accurate information on aid figures, statistics, reports and effectiveness. Whether we are ordinary citizens, aid organisations or governmental institutions, we have the right to see, trace and understand the effectiveness of the aid that is being disseminated by aid organisations globally.

 

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