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The European Commission has unveiled a website designed to offer easy and transparent access to global data on development and humanitarian aid.

The developers of the EU Aid Explorer say their site will, for the first time, bring together data from several major aid databases.

The site was launched last month (15 April) in Mexico at the first High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which was created in 2011 and calls for greater transparency and accountability in relation to development.

It tracks donors’ activities, using infographics to show how much money was given by which organisations or nations in a given year and where it was spent.

“Transparent practices are the basis of enhanced accountability,” says Anjula Garg, the project’s leader. When both donors and recipients are accountable, people are more confident that the money is being used for what it said it would be, she says.

“The fact that the EU Aid Explorer has both humanitarian and development assistance data is great because getting access to humanitarian data is chronically difficult.”

Samantha Custer, AidData 

Samantha Custer, director of communications and policy outreach at AidData, a US-based research lab that provides open data to assist international development, says: “From a donor’s perspective, it’s important for people to know who’s doing what and where. It’s key to improving coordination, reducing duplication and looking at ways to maximise the impact of aid.”

This information also allows citizens and civil society organisations in recipient countries to see areas of need versus investment, identify gaps in service delivery and hold their governments accountable for the results of such investments, she says.

The site began as an exploratory project to obtain global, open-source aid data. “There is a lot of information about what is funded by donors across the world, but each donor has its own information system and this is also true for beneficiaries,” says Garg.

The EU Aid Explorer contains data from four major existing databases: the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the European Disaster Response Information System and the International Aid Transparency Initiative Registry.

“EU Aid Explorer takes data and makes it searchable and visualises it,” says Garg. Though she notes that there is still no single website where data from all donors and recipients are stored.

As each dataset has its own format, the information is harmonised when it is imported into the EU Aid Explorer to ensure uniformity when searching for and visualising it.

The website currently only contains information from donors, but Garg says she hopes that the tool will in future also be able to provide data on the amount of cash received by aid beneficiaries.

“The fact that the EU Aid Explorer has both humanitarian and development assistance data is great because getting access to humanitarian data is chronically difficult,” adds Custer.

She also praises the tool’s ability to capture both the commitments and payments of funds from different donors, but says it would be useful for it to contain more information about how the values are harmonised, since some classifications are “not as intuitive as they could be”.

Custer adds that the EU Aid Explorer could be further improved by adding subnational information to the national data already available.

Link to the EU Aid Explorer

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