Image by Andrea Kehrwald/DRK
  • Report
  • 17 June 2020

Supporting Grand Bargain signatories in meeting commitments to greater transparency

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The Grand Bargain recognises that greater data-driven transparency is essential for building trust, improving visibility and accountability of donors and aid organisations, and for enabling a more coordinated and effective response towards affected populations.

Published before the Grand Bargain annual meeting in June 2020 and looking forward to the Grand Bargain’s five-year review, this report examines the progress of the transparency workstream in achieving its mission to increase the availability and use of timely, transparent, harmonised and open high-quality data on humanitarian financing to enable evidence-informed decision-making, greater accountability and learning.

The report provides an analysis of progress on data publication and data use, documents lessons learnt from key workstream projects – in particular the pilot between the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and the development of a data visualisation prototype in response to the Covid-19 pandemic – and proposes recommendations for workstream and signatory action in the coming year.

Read the key findings

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Progress so far

Since the launch of the Grand Bargain in 2016, signatories have made marked progress on data publication and built strong partnerships to support their commitment to transparency. Progress on publication has been significant, with 87% of signatories now publishing to IATI and 93% of those publishing humanitarian data using at least v2.02 of the IATI Standard. However, there remains work to be done on the publication of more granular data and traceability of funds through the humanitarian system.

The workstream has advanced understanding of data use (its primary focus in the past 12 months) by hosting a data use workshop, surveying and analysing signatory data use, developing case studies, and prototyping data use tools to highlight the value of IATI data for monitoring other Grand Bargain commitments and in the response to Covid-19. These projects have been well received and have led to improvements in data publication, with significant volumes of data being published in advance of the launch of the Covid-19 prototype. The 2020 signatory self-reports highlight that there remains some disconnect between data publication and data use for decision-making.

While many signatories are now using IATI data through tools that they and others have developed to provide public access to humanitarian funding data, few are yet to report using this data to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their response to current crises. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. The quality, granularity and timeliness of publication by a number of signatories needs to be addressed for data to be usable at the global level.
  2. Interoperability between platforms is a key incentive to data use, reducing the reporting burden on donors, increasing the quality of publication and enabling users to have a ‘single source of truth’ for humanitarian data. Thirdly, signatories are asking for more guidance and support to increase consistency of their IATI data publication to make data more usable between organisations.
  3. The linkages between data publication and use need more investigation, primarily around decision-making at HQ level and how the transparency agenda and IATI humanitarian data can better serve needs. These are the key areas of action for the Grand Bargain transparency workstream for the year ahead.

Reviewing both the challenges and opportunities, this report concludes that a political reaffirmation by signatories of their commitment to transparency broadly, and comprehensive, timely and high-quality open data on humanitarian financing specifically, is needed to accelerate progress of the workstream in the run up to the Grand Bargain five-year review in 2021.

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The Grand Bargain and Covid-19

The global Covid-19 pandemic has refocused attention on the importance of transparency and open data. The transparency workstream, alongside Grand Bargain signatories and partner organisations, has responded faster than ever to get open, usable data in the public domain as a mechanism to support the overall humanitarian response to Covid-19, working towards putting accurate and timely data at the heart of decision-making. The response to the global crisis has evidenced what can be achieved through investment, prioritisation and collaboration in a very short time. It has reconfirmed a number of ongoing challenges that need to be overcome in the lead up to the five-year review of the Grand Bargain in 2021 so as to create lasting and impactful change in the way that data informs humanitarian decision-making.

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How is this data used?

The analysis shows that close to 50% of signatories reporting using IATI data in 2019. However, whilst progress is clear, work is still required to achieve the goal set out by the Grand Bargain: for humanitarian transparency to put accurate and timely data at the heart of decision-making. The workstream’s work on data prototyping to support the Covid-19 response has highlighted what is possible through prioritisation and collaboration, and the gaps and challenges that remain in achieving a complete and accurate picture of humanitarian financing.

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Key recommendations for all signatories

In the lead up to the five-year review of the Grand Bargain in 2021, we believe that there are a number of key areas for action:

  1. Political commitment to better publication
  2. Making IATI data more consistent and comparable
  3. Realising efficiency savings

Based on the finding of this report, we provide the following specific recommendations for Grand Bargain signatories and the workstream to progress against the commitments to publication and data use.

Publication

  • Signatories should publish granular information (IATI V2.02, v2.03 and traceability information) on humanitarian funding in their IATI data.
  • Signatories should publish granular financial data and the names of the organisations that are involved in their activities (including implementing organisations), subject to confidentiality requirements.
  • Signatories should publish on a regular basis, at least monthly and more frequently during a crisis (preferably in near real time, where possible).
  • Signatories should quality check their data and, where possible, use IATI data as a basis for reporting to other platforms and internally ensuring alignment of numbers.

And the workstream can support signatories through:

  • Continuing to support signatories to monitor their progress through the IATI Humanitarian Data Portal.
  • Including a target for timeliness of data as a key mechanism for tracking signatory progress on data publication.
  • Engagement with signatories on specific publication challenges and signpost support for signatories where needed.
  • Supporting signatories, partners and users to consult and engage on the finalisation of the IATI humanitarian publishing guidance for more consistent publication between organisations.

Data use

  • Signatories should review the steps outlined in this report for enhancing their IATI publication and understanding their data in preparation for ingestion into FTS.
  • Signatories should work towards a better understanding of how data is being used at the HQ and local levels within their organisations and how their IATI data can better support decision-making.

And the workstream can support signatories through:

  • Continuing to demonstrate the usability and value of IATI data through data prototyping and visualisation.
  • Supporting engagement on data use at the global, national and local levels to provide specific recommendations to signatories and partners.
  • Monitoring progress towards the data use commitment, carrying out a detailed data use survey in 2021 and sharing best practice among signatories.
  • Supporting the roll-out of IATI–FTS ingestion by signatories and strengthening FTS capacity to support this.
  • Convening and engaging signatories and platform providers to take forward a vision for humanitarian transparency beyond 2021.