TAG Piccolo, a miniTAG in Rome

  • Nov. 9, 2017

This post is written by Sangita Dubey, Senior Statistician at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Last month, FAO hosted TAG Piccolo, a miniTAG in Rome. Organised by FAO’s Statistics Division and InterAction, 50 participants attended the meeting on improving IATI publication and data use related to aid projects in the areas of agriculture and food security.

miniTAG explained…

“miniTAGs allow any organisation/ person to host their own smaller meet-up throughout the year, giving our community the space to do much-needed deep-dives on particular IATI issues.”

For those who do not yet know, a miniTAG is a smaller-scale face-to-face meeting of IATI’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) community. The need for miniTAGs came from the success of IATI’s larger annual TAG meeting, which brings together IATI publishers and data users to solve problems related to existing IATI standards, tools and processes.  

As the annual TAG has grown over the years, so has the demand for the number of IATI issues to be discussed, which limits the scope for detailed discussions on specific issues. miniTAGs allow any organisation/person to host their own smaller meet-up throughout the year, giving our community the space to do much-needed deep-dives on particular IATI issues.

Our focus: improving CRS codelists

The TAG Piccolo focused on the challenges and potential solutions to publishing better data on agriculture and food security interventions. The morning started with a discussion on gaps within the OECD sector classification.

FAO presented a proposal to the OECD on new codes to address challenges we face in reporting and using OECD data from the Creditor Reporting System. For FAO, work on our proposal to the OECD began in late 2015, well before we became a member of IATI in April 2016. However we’ve experienced the same challenges when compiling our data for IATI publication.

The comments from participants in the miniTAG have already helped us improve our proposal, which will be submitted to the OECD by January 2018.

Showcasing new tools

Our discussion was followed by presentations of the latest tools being developed by IATI’s tech community. Participants were shown a tool developed with InterAction’s lead, to tag projects for publication and disaggregate publish data for improved decision making.  

The afternoon saw a presentation on open format (XML and RDF) agriculture investment vocabularies – including the OECD sector classifications – that could be used with these tools. Our meeting ended with a presentation on a new platform to better use and visualise IATI data.

Were the discussions valuable? Absolutely!

FAO’s work on agriculture vocabularies benefitted from the advice – and the work – of many experts in the room. Their experties will be key in helping us develop RDF versions of statistical classifications and mappings, including the CRS sector codes and the Central Product Classification codes related to food and agriculture.

Many thanks…

I can’t forget to thank the contributors. For me, this includes Reid Porter from InterAction, who helped us pull this off; the IATI Secretariat, who helped promote the event and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who financed it.

A huge thanks also goes to my small troupe of young statisticians, who put aside their regular work for the day to help with the logistics; all the presenters, who gave us food for thought; and most importantly, all of the participants for their great suggestions.

Hold a miniTAG

Do consider a miniTAG if you have a specific IATI technical issues that requires a deep-dive.

Hosting this as a side-event to an IATI Member’s Assembly, as we did, can help reduce costs, particularly if it has the support of the IATI Secretariat. We benefitted from attracting IATI technical experts from around the world, who may not otherwise have had the time to attend a one day workshop. We also attracted experts who were attending the annual meeting of the Committee on Food Security, also hosted by FAO after the miniTAG.

For more information on hosting IATI miniTAG meetings do see TAG Chair, John Adams’ miniTAG top tips.