DAKAR, 20 May 2011 (IRIN) - Norway, Sweden, Finland and several UN agencies including the World Food Programme, the UN Population Fund, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) rank among the lowest out of 42 bilateral and multilateral donors measured for aid transparency, according to just-published research by New York University Economics Professor William Easterly and Claudia Williamson.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) scored highest.
Researchers measured transparency by analysing donor reporting data to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC); publicly available information; how fully donors responded to direct requests for information concerning how many people they employed; their administrative costs; salaries and benefits; and total development assistance disbursed.
Finland, Norway and Sweden were found to be poor on data sharing. UNDP fared worst partly because it published no information online, nor would it respond to any requests for information.
Williamson recognized it is hard to accurately measure transparency of all donors, but stressed that nevertheless their findings show progress on donor transparency is moving too slowly.
Sweden fares far better - coming third top after Denmark and the UK - in a separate assessment of aid effectiveness of European donors, undertaken by Aidwatch. In this case, Aidwatch assessed the availability of 35 types of information at organizational, partner country, and project level.
In the Aidwatch analysis, France, the EU’s second largest aid donor, came bottom alongside Hungary, Greece and Poland.
Four European donors - Denmark, the European Commission, Finland and the Netherlands - have agreed to join the UK in meeting the aid transparency standard set by the International Aid Transparency Initiative, by the end of 2011. The goal entails making aid spend information easier to access, use and understand.
The World Bank just became the first multilateral to attain this goal.
Donors will discuss aid transparency challenges when they meet in Busan, South Korea, at the fourth annual aid effectiveness forum at the end of 2011.
As part of an accountability drive in 2005, donors promised to open up their financial flows and policies for greater scrutiny, by signing the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness.