Contribution to Guardian discussion on aid transparency
Senior Research Fellow Alina Rocha Menocal joined an international panel at the beginning of July for an online discussion about transparency in aid funding.
The panel was made up of policy makers, practitioners and advocacy experts who contributed from locations as diverse as Nigeria and Myanmar to a live online Q&A session hosted by the Guardian’s Global Development Professionals Network. See a summary of key points from the discussion.
Alina noted that it is important to be realistic about what can be achieved. Setting unrealistic expectations doesn’t help and, in fact, might further undermine public confidence about what aid can achieve.
Asked whether technology might promote TAIs, she said it was worth asking who might use such technology and therefore whose voices were likely to be heard. Data availability by itself would not lead to improved accountability, no matter how good it was, and there was a need to think about how people in-country might be able to use such data to fight for change.
Transparency, she argued, does not automatically lead to accountability. Bringing the issues of power and politics into the picture shows that it is also absolutely essential to strengthen country systems and their ability to gather and disseminate information, both within governments and to other stakeholders – and neither aid nor donors can do this alone.
Alina has made a number of contributions to the discussion in recent years about the increasing demand for transparency and accountability initiatives (TAIs) in all areas of development practice.