An Investigation of the International Aid Transparency Initiative: The State of IATI

  • July 13, 2018

Therese Dahlfors Zimmerman and Zimmerman

This blog post is written by Therese Dahlfors, Insights manager, data management processes at Dutch data visualization company Zimmerman & Zimmerman.

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard has since 2011 functioned as a mechanism to increase the transparency of the aid development sector by opening up aid development data to the public.

However, not many in-depth analyses of the Standard’s status or the value it brings the aid development community have been undertaken during IATI’s seven years of existence.

"To get an understanding of whether IATI has lived up to the development community’s expectations, I’ve created a report which explores the current status of the IATI Standard as seen by stakeholders active in the IATI community."

I’ve also analysed the stakeholders’ view on the websites — also called ‘IATI data portals’ — that visualise IATI data to make it understandable for everyone, regardless of technical expertise.

To answer these questions, I conducted semi-structured interviews with ten stakeholders who represented donor organisations, multilateral organisations, and NGOs.

The analysis of the interviews showed that IATI’s major goal to increase transparency in the aid development sector has been met to a certain extent. Interestingly, it also revealed that the stakeholders have appropriated the IATI Standard for their own uses and needs.

For example, they have used IATI to make their work processes more efficient, they have gained valuable insights into their work, and they use IATI data to communicate their achievements to the surrounding world.Nevertheless, the stakeholders also critique the Standard in various ways and identify areas of improvement.

My report, An Investigation of the International Aid Transparency Initiative: The State of IATI, which is available for download here, presents these issues and proposes solutions aimed for the IATI Standard to reach its full potential.

The key recommendations are:

  • IATI should work to facilitate an increased dialogue between policy makers and IT people in the IATI community.
  • The IATI data quality needs to improve.
  • Emphasise the IATI Standard’s value in terms of knowledge creation when promoting IATI.
  • Resources are needed to abolish the obstacles that prevent publication to IATI and the use of the IATI data.
  • It should become easier to report to IATI and work with the data.
  • The IATI data portals provide insights into IATI data but still need to become better.
  • The IATI community needs to become more diverse.

N.b. I created this report as part of the internship module of the Master’s programme New Media and Digital Culture at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, in collaboration with the data visualisation company Zimmerman & Zimmerman.