Becoming increasingly involved in global development news and issues requires a bit of putting pieces of the global puzzle together. Without doing that, the full picture is always clouded. Attempting to figure out why some global development programs work and others don’t, or trying to piece together who works in partnership with whom, or who funds specific projects can be hard to know. That cloudiness becomes problematic as it makes it harder to tell the fullest, most accurate stories. This is certainly not lost on many. Transparency is becoming a mainstay instead of an afterthought in the global aid community.
Last week Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) launched its Development Tracker where you can see the amount and to whom Britain provides development aid. This week GAVI released its 2012 Progress Report. The report publishes key vaccine data from last year and the GAVI Alliance web site itself houses a plethora of easily accessible data that can help shed light on expenditures, payments, and vaccine roll-out dates.
Next week as the world has its eyes on the G8 Summit, the ONE Campaign will push for more extractive transparency where they will call on the major governments to require companies that remove oil, gas and minerals from Africa to report what and how much is extracted. The progress on extractive transparency is slow going as companies, lobbyists, and unions fight for their own interests to keep that information covered. And, yet, governments, including the US and UK, have come on board to require increased scrutiny and transparency to the extractive sector.
There is also increased transparency in global development programs and how much is funded by foundations. Launched in 2010 Glass Pockets created by the Foundation Center effectively allows everyone – media, researchers, developers, the public – to view the grants foundations have made to nonprofits and global NGOs. What Glass Pockets has done is opened up grant data for the world to see. The reasons are many: transparency in giving, transparency in communications, transparency in the types of programs funded. Last year, Glass Pockets released the Reporting Commitment, a robust database of the grants made by the world’s largest foundations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation and others. The foundations have agreed to release this data quarterly in an effort to keep data current and transparency effective.
The more transparent the global development community is the better for everyone. Real change can take place for the communities that most need aid and a broader story of how things work gets told.