Survey: Your Chance to Influence the Way Development Co-operation Works for Everyone’s Benefit

The world is changing incredibly fast, so we need to find better ways to work together to deliver real change in the lives of millions of people. We call this development co-operation.  The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations Development Programme invite you to share feedback and ideas that can help to grow an inclusive, multi-stakeholder partnership for development co-operation in support of sustainable development. This will build on the existing Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

The first consultation ran from 10 May to 24 May, and a summary of the consultation will be shared soon in order to guide your continued engagement in the work of the Global Partnership. The summary will also inform preparations for the Second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership, to be hosted by Kenya 28 November – 1 December 2016. Click here to learn more.

Stay tuned for further consultations and learn about other ways to get involved with the Global Partnership!

Enhancing Bangladesh’s development co-operation through AIMS

Globally, the data revolution is underway – offering both policy makers and ordinary citizens unprecedented new opportunities to make informed decisions. The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Post-2015 Development Agenda, in its 2013 Report, drew attention toward a number of transformational shifts that will be required for inclusive sustainable development through enhanced global partnership. In order to translate this vision into reality, goals or targets relating to development efforts will have to be rigorously monitored to assess impacts. The Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG), in its A World that Counts Report published on November 6, 2014, underscores the need for data standards to facilitate openness, and specifically standards that accommodate open, disaggregated, accessible, timely and comparable data that caters to the needs of a wide range of users. This trend toward open data has gathered momentum following the realisation that transparency and mutual accountability are essential for effective development.

The issue came to the forefront during the third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra in 2008 and has been a prominent topic in the global aid effectiveness agenda since then. Keeping with this global trend, Bangladesh has become one of the few countries in the world to set up a locally developed online aid information platform called Bangladesh Aid Information Management System, or Bangladesh (AIMS) – a web-based software application that will help the country to track and manage its aid flows.

AIMS is a publicly accessible database that captures data on aid flows of a given country. This kind of online database helps both development partners and recipient countries to track where the aid is going, which groups in the society are getting benefits and what is being achieved. More importantly, it will provide a window into the channels of aid delivery and the overall quality of aid management in Bangladesh. The overall objective of such a database is to provide common aid data for government, development partners, CSOs and other stakeholders.

There has to be big bang for bucks if we want to have effective development partnerships. In order to make it happen, we need comprehensive, comparable, timely and easily accessible data on foreign assistance. This helps the government in coordination and planning while also allowing development partners to know how their assistance is being used for what purposes and the sector composition of investments. It helps civil society, media and academia to measure the quality of aid expenditure while critically analysing our efforts and providing pragmatic and honest suggestions to ensure better results of development partnerships. All of this will ensure a stronger impact of development efforts on the lives of the people. Transparency in aid management will also assist legislative oversights of public expenditure for development.

In the recent High Level Meeting on Effective Development Cooperation in Mexico earlier this year, countries reiterated to accelerate their efforts to fulfill the pledges made in various international forums to provide timely and forward-looking data so that the gains made on transparency at the global level get translated into real benefits at country level.

The same was also echoed in the “Joint Cooperation Strategy” signed in 2010 between the government of Bangladesh and major development partners. In addition, Bangladesh’s improvements in governance through the enactment of the Right to Information Act and the establishment of an Independent Information Commission has contributed to promoting data openness. Against this backdrop, Bangladesh decided to develop a home-grown, economical and technically robust database to manage aid.

BangladeshAIMS2There has to be big bang for bucks if we want to have effective development partnerships. In order to make it happen, we need comprehensive, comparable, timely and easily accessible data on foreign assistance.

It is satisfying to note that the response from our development partners since the establishment of AIMS is very encouraging. For the majority of donors on the system, we now have a quite comprehensive data set. It is expected that regular and timely data sharing on AIMS will ensure better availability of comprehensive, accurate and timely aid data to get a complete picture of aid flows. This will improve national budgeting and promote sector level alignment with national priorities spelled out in the 6th Five Year Plan.

Besides, through the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), a group of voluntary donors, recipients and civil society organisations has developed a global standard defining exactly the type of aid information that is needed to ensure effective development cooperation at country level. The Economic Relations Division with the support of IATI is preparing to implement automated data transfer in the near future.
Bangladesh aspires to become a middle-income country by 2021. To overcome the challenges of poverty, the core goal of our partnership should be achievement of substantive development results. It is essential that the development partners respect strong country ownership by ensuring alignment of their programmes with national priorities in different sectors and by using our country systems in respect of Public Financial Management (PFM) and Procurement. Sharing aid data through a national database is a part and parcel of ensuring country ownership.

Bangladesh AIMS is expected to play a key role in promoting effective development partnership in Bangladesh. It must be remembered that enhancing aid transparency and ensuring better aid management are joint responsibilities of the government and the development partners and by working together we can move faster towards that goal.


bangladeshbioMohammad Mejbahuddin is Secretary of the Economic Relations Division in the Government of Bangladesh and also a Steering Committee member of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. The article was first published on The Daily Star – an English language newspaper in Bangladesh.

From development information to a data revolution

True development geeks will know that today is World Development Information Day. Since 1972 the United Nations has been urging us all to raise awareness of development challenges. Four decades on, with a call for a ‘data revolution’ in development by the High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda and the creation of an Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG) on this revolution, the issue of development information is squarely back on the agenda.

But over these years a very important transformation has taken place. In 1972, the UN General Assembly felt that “improving the dissemination of information and the mobilisation of public opinion, particularly among young people, would lead to greater awareness of the problems of development.” Today, after dramatic developments in information and communications technologies, talking of one-way ‘dissemination’ seems antiquated, if not a little patronising. Instead, we have unprecedented opportunities for people to engage in two-way or indeed many-to-many conversations, and for data and information itself to be a transformative part of the development process.

The clearest demonstration of this transformative potential lies in the ability of ordinary citizens to collect, curate and use data to hold power-holders to account. There a plenty of examples of innovation on this front.

In India, www.ipaidabribe.com is crowdsourcing citizens’ reports of being asked for a bribe via free phone calls, mobile apps and the Internet. This has created new data to show policymakers about the prevalence of bribery in India and also a new map of citizen-reported data on corruption. Shack/Slum Dwellers International, a network of community-based organisations representing the urban poor in 33 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, works with whole communities to count households, map settlements, and survey at the household level to develop a detailed socio-economic profile of the settlement, thereby making these marginalised groups become active partners in their own development. The Participate ‘knowledge from the margins’ initiative and the Initiative for Equality’s field hearings are two primary examples in which samples of the poorest and most marginalised sectors of society – likely to be missed by traditional indicators – have been directly asked about their needs and priorities.

Approaches of this kind could serve as an important model for scaled-up methods used to acquire qualitative data on development – not just for the sake of collecting data but also for empowering people in the process.

CIVICUS

This World Development Information Day, please bear in mind what we need to do to realise the true emancipatory potential of information and data in the development process. Let’s make this data revolution truly revolutionary.

While greater and more accurate information is course welcome, the data revolution risks being a missed opportunity if it fails to directly engage and empower people. What we should focus on, therefore, is improving the quality and accessibility of data most relevant to people’s lives, and equipping them with the information to hold decision makers to account.

This is why we at CIVICUS launched the Big Development DataShift as a voluntary initiative at the Mexico City High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. Our aim is simple: build the capacity and confidence of citizens and civil society to generate and use data to monitor development progress. At the moment the vast majority of civil society organisations do not use the tools and techniques required to tap into the potential of the data revolution. Building this capacity will require a heavy lift but it is essential, not just to create the demand for the vast amounts of data being opened up but also to encourage them to become more active players in generating data.

Development contexts are complex, but a bottom-up approach puts citizens at the centre of sustainable development. The needs, interests and experiences of individuals and communities will reveal the most telling insights about development progress or lack thereof.

So, today, as you celebrate World Development Information Day, please bear in mind what more we need to do to realise the true emancipatory potential of information and data in the development process. Let’s make this data revolution truly revolutionary.


Danny%20smallDr. Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah is Secretary General and CEO of CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance with members in more than 140 countries. His previous roles have included Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Interim Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, and Deputy Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research. He can be found @civicussg on Twitter and Facebook.