UN-Habitat joins the open aid movement

  • Sept. 6, 2012

Guest blog by Pontus WesterbergTransparency Affairs and Digital Projects Officer, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

This week the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, became the third UN agency to start publishing data to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard and the 78th publishing organisation overall. We’re really pleased to be taking this important step in our journey to become a more open and transparent organisation.

We’ve also launched the Open UN-Habitat website which will be the focal point for our open data and transparency work over the coming months and years. The site launches with six projects, but over the next few weeks we will be adding more.

The technology behind the site is all open source. We worked with the Dutch nonprofit Akvo and their OIPA tool to index the IATI data. OIPA is a search tool built in Django which enables IATI compliant datasets to be easily parsed and was developed by Siem Vaessen. The front end was built by Kenyan web agency Verviant in WordPress. All the technology we used is available under a Creative Commons license on Github.

During phase one of the transparency initiative we will add projects approved since 1 January 2012. The aim is then to add all projects that we are currently involved in delivering. The process of backdating will take some time but we hope that it will be completed during 2013.

We see this as a work in progress and the site is currently in ‘beta’. Our starting point is to publish as much data as we can, but for an organisation the size of UN-Habitat this will take time. The first big priorities will be to publish the data that we already have, and automate the process of IATI reporting. Once that is in place, we will focus on improving data quality and improving reporting processes. We would also like to make the data more useful by doing sub-national geocoding, providing transaction level information on fund commitments and disbursements and publishing monitoring and evaluation reports.

If you have any comments or thoughts, we would love to hear them.

Alternatively contact me directly on [email protected]