Evidence available for 2019 indicates that progress continued to be made by and within this workstream in 2018 against commitment 1.1, which the workstream consciously decided to focus on at an early stage. Since June 2017, the number of Grand Bargain signatories that are publishing open data on their humanitarian financing and providing much more useful and usable data on their activities has significantly increased as organisations begin using the humanitarian features of the latest version of the IATI Standard. This enables signatories (and other IATI publishers) to provide even more granular reporting on humanitarian funding, for example by showing levels of earmarking, pledges, cash-based programming and whether funding is channeled via local and national responders.
As at May 2019 90% of Grand Bargain signatories that publish open data to IATI were including some data on their humanitarian activities. However, the uptake and use of data published via IATI depends not just on its availability, but also on its usability, usefulness and accessibility. In 2019, the transparency workstream shifted its focus from increasing publication to supporting signatories in accessing and using IATI data. The workstream is developing a series of prototyping ‘windows’ onto the IATI data in the areas of cash programming, localisation, earmarking and the humanitarian-development nexus to show what’s available and what might be possible if more, and more usable, data was being published.
Work supported by the Centre for Humanitarian Data, OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service (FTS), Development Initiatives and the IATI Secretariat to pilot the automatic import of IATI data from a number of Grand Bargain signatories into FTS and ensure complementarity between the two systems, increasing efficiencies, reducing gaps in information reported to FTS and lowering the reporting burden on donors and aid organisations has met with some success. Although far from a completely automated exchange, organisations are already seeing benefits in terms of increased feedback on data quality, improved data literacy and increased internal support for data production.
In May 2019 major wins, key challenges and learnings were shared during a review of the workstream’s progress at a workshop in the Hague.
During the course of 2020, Publish What You Fund will be releasing findings from its in-country research to increase understanding of the information needs and challenges of humanitarian actors on the ground, in particular local and national responders. Development Initiatives will be launching a new IATI Humanitarian Data Portal to replace the Grand Bargain Transparency Dashboard and inform data users of what is currently being published via IATI by Grand Bargain signatories or their affiliates.
The progress by Grand Bargain signatories in publishing their humanitarian data to IATI is encouraging and many organisations who have improved their IATI reporting have commented positively on its potential benefits – such as improving organisational performance, efficiency, opportunities for collaboration, evidence-based decision-making, accountability and transparency.
The current challenge for the Transparency works stream is to ensure that published data is relevant and accessible to potential users. This will only be feasible with a greater collective understating of how data can or might support key processes within humanitarian response.
Overall, it will be important for IATI users to demonstrate the benefits of using humanitarian data for better decision-making and building evidence.
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