Last week, IATI held an in-person, multi-stakeholder workshop in Abuja entitled, “Strengthening IATI Data Use in West and Central Africa.” The meeting was co-hosted by IATI together with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, the incoming IATI Governing Board Chair.
The three-day meeting engaged potential data users from 14 partner country governments across West and Central Africa, and development partners and civil society organisations (CSOs) based in Nigeria. Each group attended a dedicated session to receive training, and join discussion, on how IATI data could meet their development finance information needs.
Opening the workshop, Dr. Sampson Ebimaro, Director of International Cooperation, Nigeria Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning said, “I wish to state categorically that despite the challenges of availability of data in many countries, data and data standards have always been critical…. this regional workshop is a unique opportunity to raise awareness, and strengthen the use of IATI data in national budget, planning and accountability processes”.
The government of Nigeria sees immense value in the International Aid Transparency Initiative and is using IATI data to track millions of dollars of development finance flowing into our country
In his welcome address, Henry Asor Nkang, Development Assistance Database Manager at the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and incoming IATI Governing Board Chair, remarked that, “this workshop represents a step forward in IATI’s quest to improve usage of its data. Data on more than one million development and humanitarian activities has been published by over 1400 organisations using the IATI Standard, including from bilateral partners, multilateral agencies, civil society organisations and others.
The government of Nigeria sees immense value in the International Aid Transparency Initiative and is using IATI data to track millions of dollars of development finance flowing into our country. We used IATI data to inform Nigeria’s 2021 Development Cooperation Report, which monitors development financing to our country and informs government decisions about the future coordination of these resources”.
Partner country government session
Over a day and a half, representatives of 14 partner country governments from West and Central Africa and nearly a dozen representatives from the Government of Nigeria came together in Abuja to learn how the data could be potentially used in their specific contexts. During the workshop, participants received an introduction to IATI as an initiative, and hands-on training on how to access, analyse and use IATI data. In addition, the governments of Nigeria and Liberia presented on how they are accessing and using this information to help meet their countries’ development finance information needs. Representatives also received in-depth training on using IATI’s Country Development Finance Data (CDFD) tool, which was specifically designed to provide data most needed by partner country governments and other country-level data users. Several participants who had tried to use IATI data in the past noted the vast improvement in accessibility and usability afforded to them by using CDFD. Participants also discussed how IATI could add value as a complement to governments’ own systems that are managing similar data.
“I hope this is the beginning of a good alliance between our country and IATI to work with reliable, accessible, understandable, available, quality data”.
Throughout this workshop segment, participants confirmed the need for more and better data on development finance, particularly forward-looking data. In this respect, they highlighted challenges in obtaining necessary information at the country level, due to two main factors, namely the responsiveness of development partners; and challenges with obtaining good information on activities undertaken by civil society. A number of known IATI data quality issues were flagged by participants, including the variation in the way data is published by different organisations, double counting and timeliness. Despite these challenges, participants resoundingly found value in the data and the CDFD tool, and four participants have already followed up with the IATI Secretariat to express their interest in becoming IATI members. As one participant noted, “I hope this is the beginning of a good alliance between our country and IATI to work with reliable, accessible, understandable, available, quality data”.
Development partner session
More than 25 representatives from partners who fund development activities in Nigeria, along with representatives from the Government of Nigeria, joined the second, half-day session of the regional workshop.
Dr. Christopher Pyrcroft, Head of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in Nigeria, and Co-Chair of the National Development Partner Group (NDPG), alongside UNDP, opened the meeting. He noted that, “development is a complex process requiring all agencies to work in partnership to deliver resources effectively. Open and transparent information about development resources, how they are used and what they are delivering, has never been more important…it is therefore critical that we drive as much value as we can from every pound, dollar and Naira, and transparency is crucial for our collective efforts.”
During the event, development partners learned about IATI and its data, including its potential usefulness for their own internal processes. The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning also presented how they are using IATI data to inform their annual Development Cooperation Report and other important government processes. Through this presentation they underscored the importance of receiving high quality data from development partners, especially through their national system, the Development Assistance Database (DAD). Representatives of the Ministry called for increased commitment by development partners and especially the members of the NDPG, to provide timely, comprehensive and forward-looking information to the DAD. This led to fruitful discussion on how to improve donor accountability in Nigeria.
Civil society session
The third workshop session was an opportunity for civil society organisations (CSOs), including local nongovernmental organisations, transparency advocates, journalists, etc., located in Nigeria to learn more about how IATI data can be used in the CSO context. More than 50 representatives joined the workshop to learn how they could use IATI data to support the aims of their organisations, including holding national authorities to account; reducing overlap and gaps in services; campaigning for more effective development cooperation; and finding innovative funding opportunities and new partners. The CSO representatives received an introduction to IATI and its data; and hands-on training in using the data to solve their specific questions around accountability, coordination, advocacy and funding.
Those in attendance expressed appreciation for the workshop noting that the information available from IATI is critical for their work, particularly for promoting transparency and good governance. One participant expressed optimism about “the ways this new knowledge can support our work in the civil society space in Nigeria”. There was also considerable interest for further capacity building and the opportunity to build a stronger community to promote transparency in Nigeria.
- The IATI Secretariat will use the information from this workshop (and previous research and views) to directly inform future work to support partner country governments, development partners and civil society to access, analyse and use IATI data.
- The IATI Secretariat will also continue following up with participants of the regional workshop to support their use of IATI data through tailored 1:1 and group support.
Support using IATI data
For support using IATI data, visit IATI’s Data Use Query Corner or email IATI’s Helpdesk: [email protected]. You can also stay up-to-date with news, events and discussions on activities to improve the use of IATI data by joining the Data Use Community of Practice on IATI Connect. For all other questions, please contact the IATI Secretariat at [email protected].