“Don’t just show data-make it work to improve aid”

“Implementing development programs effectively, efficiently and sustainably can’t happen without transparent aid information,” Samantha Custer, policy outreach and communications director at AidData, told Devex. “Governments and donors use this information to improve coordination, reduce duplication and maximize the impact of their investments.”

Custer added: “It’s not enough to publish vast amounts of aid information on the Web — the quality of that information matters and local actors often lack the capacity to use this in their daily work.”

Part of the problem why aid, despite numerous studies and initiatives, is not as effective as donor agencies would hope, is the numerous gaps not only in publishing data, but also in operationalizing these pieces of information.


One of my tasks when I was employed was to produce briefs, maximum of five pages, out of 100-plus or so pages of full reports of research and evaluation my organization had funded.  The aim was to improve organizational learning and evidence-based decision-making.  The organization’s senior management team was the primary audience, with sector advisors kept in the loop of these.

On the whole, the task can be likened to eating pizza.  I ate pretty much entire pans of; bits of toppings and crusts, by the rest.  At some point, you’d ask, is it possible for a brain to be obese?

But yes evidence must move out of the pages of reports into discussions and eventually operations, for the desired change to happen.  Strategy making and operationalization are out of the hands of data producers and communicators.  People who do the next phase of the work must take over. 

In the case of the Philippine government, evaluation of national strategies and public programs (not just projects) must first be made a national policy, integral to broader goals of accountability and managing for results.


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