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Making aid transparent: Syncing international and government aid data

This article was initially published on the International Aid Transparency Initiative blog. They spoke to Anders Hofstee, co-founder of Catalpa, about our work on aid transparency and the release of our new tool, IATI Sync.

What is Catalpa International?

We try to use information to help people make more informed decisions. Our biggest aid information project, Mohinga, collates local and international aid data in Myanmar. It’s currently supported by the German agency GIZ. We’re also working on an Aid Information Management System (AIMS) in Uzbekistan along with UNDP.

When did you start supporting governments to manage their aid data?

IATI Sync is the first tool to automatically synchronise IATI data and local aid data, updating on a nightly basis.

What is the IATI Sync tool?

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The IATI Sync tool

What made you develop IATI Sync functionality?

It made sense for us as it’s the most frequently updated piece of information, so we decided to focus the new tool on delivering that capability. In developing IATI Sync, our aim was to reduce data entry efforts, improve quality, and help people spend more time focusing on their projects.

Aside from reducing time spent on reporting, are there any other benefits?

In developing IATI Sync, our aim was to reduce data entry efforts, improve quality, and help people spend more time focusing on their projects.

IATI Sync is the first tool to automatically synchronise IATI data and local aid data, updating on a nightly basis. It can greatly improve the sustainability of aid data collection efforts, as once set up, IATI Sync will keep projects up to date as new financial data becomes available. Syncing the data also allows far more detailed data to be quickly imported, compared to manual data entry. Through IATI Sync, we can see a more accurate, comprehensive picture of what’s actually happening in the aid environment in Myanmar. That includes types of aid, volume of assistance, and where it’s going to. With better quality data, the Government of Myanmar and partners can help make sure resources are coordinated and directed to the right places.

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In general, what do you think are the benefits to governments of using IATI data?

IATI data allows governments to be in control of their country’s aid data and use it to monitor what’s happening across the nation.

With that information, governments can more effectively plan for the future. Better data delivers a better evidence base on aid funding, which is important for decision-making. IATI data can also significantly lower monitoring costs for governments, particularly with tools like IATI Sync that make it easier to view published open data alongside local knowledge on activities and results.

Where can people find more information out about your IATI projects?

You can also find more projects on our website and follow Catalpa International on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Do you have any future plans in aid information management?

We’ll also be pursuing more capabilities for our Openly software, which forms the basis of many of our projects (including Mohinga). Openly is based on the IATI Standard, which gives us a shared language to describe development activities. It offers implementing partners a shared platform to view donor profiles, activities, data collection tools, results and more, all contributing to better aid coordination. In addition to Mohinga, you can also see Openly in action through the organisational profiles in our Hamutuk multi-sector nutrition program.

We think that development partners can work better together, and organisations’ use of Openly in Myanmar, Uzbekistan, and Timor-Leste are showing us how.

Thanks for reading! Learn more about us at www.catalpa.io, and about Mohinga at www.mohinga.info.

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Creating a more equitable world through tech + design | www.catalpa.io

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