Friday, June 29, 2012
The United States Foreign Assistance Dashboard was updated to include USAID’s foreign assistance obligation and expenditure data. The dashboard also provides access to data from the Department of State and the Millennium Challenge Corporation in a user-friendly format. The UK’s Department for International Development plans to release more data to the public, including results and detailed maps of international aid projects. Along with the release of data will be a complete overhaul of the public portal data.gov.uk. Kosovo’s newly updated Aid Management Portal makes aid information easily accessible and includes visualizations and maps of projects throughout the country. If you haven’t seen it, you might also want to check out the 2012 report on the Adoption of the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government, which details the many ways open government data are being used.
The Overseas Development Institute's recent publication of a report on “Understanding public attitudes to aid and development” has stirred a fair amount of online discussion and debate. Leni Wild, a contributor to The New Statesman, made the case that the public wants to know how aid works--they want the stories of the progress being made. On the Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog, Mark Tran provided examples of NGOs that are trying to communicate success stories; he says there needs to be a move away from the “heart-string appeals.” Global Dashboard’s Alex Glennie also discussed how the report shows that the public differentiates between aid and development, with the former being viewed with more skepticism. Linda Raftree responds to a similar report, “Who cares? Challenges and opportunities in communicating distant suffering; a view from the development and humanitarian sector,” on her blog Wait…What? Raftree discusses the issue of fundraising approaches that can be seen as demeaning, disrespectful, and undignified, but seem to get the public to open up their pocket books.
The new UK aid logo, which includes the Union Jack, has started some interesting conversations. Questions on when and how to take credit for aid have cropped up, while others wonder if it will increase accountability, as a picture of a derelict school with UKAID emblazoned across it would likely provoke a reaction. What are your thoughts on branding aid projects?
Featured dataset: This week we're trying out a new idea--the AidData website has links to lots of datasets on aid flows, activities, and related development topics that users might not know about. In the hope that some readers might find it useful, we'll start highlighting a specific dataset each week. To begin, the Research Datasets page includes a link to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS), which is a global, real-time database that records all reported international humanitarian aid since 2000. FTS is managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), and you can find the data here.
Taryn Davis is a Communications Intern at Development Gateway.