Understanding finance for development: d-portal.org


d-portal.org is an information platform that allows anyone to track development finance flows, such as official development assistance (ODA, or aid), country by country. d-portal allows everyone – especially line ministries, parliamentarians, journalists, academics and civil society in developing countries – to find out where financial resources for development go, how much money there is, what projects are being funded and by whom.

d-portal is aimed primarily at providing a convenient and useable resource for all stakeholders in developing countries who are interested in understanding who funds what in their locality. It works on the principle that information about funding flows into countries should be tailored to the perspective of users in those countries.

 

Why d-portal and transparency are important?

d-portal seeks to improve country-level transparency of resources coming into a developing country from multi-national actors such as governments, private foundations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to ensure there is visibility to allow country governments to plan and deliver better results.

 

Why did we build d-portal?

Data on development finance (such as aid from governments and multilateral organisations) has historically been challenging to locate, understand and view from the recipient country’s perspective. Sometimes it wasn’t available until after the projects were carried out, and sometimes it was never available. This made it hard for finance ministries in developing countries to manage, plan and balance their budgets around these financial resources. The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)’s common open data standard was a practical response to this problem, and resulted from a partnership agreement between developed and developing countries in 2008[1]. IATI allows donors to publish data on their funding and activities in a timely, machine-readable (so all datasets can easily be compared) and forward-looking (to allow for budgeting) manner.

There are now over 280 IATI publishers (including most leading donors and multilateral actors), but until d-portal there wasn’t a simple platform that comprehensively displayed all IATI data in one place and in a way that developing countries could easily access for their internal budgeting. We built d-portal to make data about development simple for everyone to access, use and understand.


[1] You can read more about the principles of aid effectiveness and transparency agreed at Accra in 2008, and the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, on the IATI website: http://www.aidtransparency.net/about

How does d-portal work?

d-portal acts as a window for each country providing a comprehensive picture of resources flowing into a country, bringing together separate datasets into one place, in a simple, visual and interactive format. Before d-portal, information about development finance appeared in three main places:

  1. In the database used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) (called the Creditor Reporting System, CRS)
  2. On the websites of individual donors and multilateral institutions, in different formats (such as PDFs or Word documents), with varying timeliness and accessibility
  3. The IATI Datastore (data for those funders reporting to the IATI standard).

d-portal brings together the most recent (2012) aggregated datasets from the OECD DAC CRS and the current data from the IATI Datastore.

How is d-portal different to other databases about development aid?

  • It’s visually simple: The IATI Datastore is a great place to run specific queries on IATI data and download raw data in spreadsheet form, but it can be complex for non-technical users.
  • It’s updated daily: d-portal contains real-time and forward-looking data (one of the most important things developing countries asked for), while the CRS is a curated database, in which data appears usually 18–24 months after the end of the reporting period.
  • It’s more detailed, with data from more organisations: d-portal contains IATI data from some actors who do not share information with the OECD DAC CRS, such as private sector organisations and NGOs. The CRS also contains less detail about projects; for example, you might not see all the sectoral components in the CRS, especially in large projects containing many different activities.

The d-portal and CRS complement each other – it’s best to use them together if you want information that is both very accurate and very detailed.

What can you do with the d-portal?

Learn: d-portal answers two questions: who pays for development projects, and who spends the money (by sector and by location)? Current and future data from IATI and the CRS is presented and compared, and can all be viewed from the perspective of a single country or an IATI publisher. From this high level of information, d-portal allows you to track spending all the way down to individual project level information. Donors can also use d-portal to pinpoint where their data needs improving and take action. (d-portal displays data in the IATI Datastore rather than curates it, so the data can change dynamically as publishers update it).

Ask questions: As well as allowing the user to explore the data as available through IATI,
d-portal demonstrates the areas where a donor’s data quality is too low to show, and where donors do not publish to IATI at all. If you don’t see any data from a specific publisher, we encourage you to go and ask them for it! We want the data in the d-portal to be useful to as many stakeholders as possible – the more people query the data, the more the data quality will improve.

Share information: d-portal also has a generator, allowing you to select and present sections of data, which enables anyone to share data with specific audiences. You can easily select the data you want and embed dynamic tables, charts and maps into a website or blog post.

How can you use it?

At the moment, d-portal acts as one platform for everyone. However, it has been designed as open source so it can be freely re-purposed for a specific country. Anyone can adapt the code to include different datasets, and information for their own country. As a first step, we worked with Young Innovations in Nepal to create a Nepal-specific d-portal, which we tailored to display the data they wanted to see. We are keen to continue this work and share lessons with other countries who want to build their own bespoke platforms. Please contact us if you want to know more!

Who are we? Who funds us?

Development Initiatives is the Technical Lead for IATI. We are a not-for-profit independent organisation, working to end extreme poverty by 2030. We work to make data and information about development easy to access, use and understand. Our work on the d-portal was funded by IATI and the Hewlett Foundation.

 

Contact

We can help you to use the d-portal and understand the data you find. Please contact us at the following address: queries@d-portal.org