Relocated villagers from the Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric Project , Credit Asian Development Bank

Why Foreign Aid and Global Development Donors Should Publish What They Fund

Billions of dollars are spent each year on foreign aid and global development. In the past, the exact amount of aid that is being spent, where is it is being spent, by whom it is being spent–and to what end is the aid serving has been very difficult for outsiders to parse.

But that has been changing in recent years.

Aid agencies in government and multi-lateral institutions like the World Bank and the United Nations are becoming increasingly transparent — not least because they have been spurred to do so by my guest today, Gary Forster.

He is the executive director of Publish What You Fund — the global campaign for aid and development transparency. The organization publishes an annual index of 47 aid agencies from the public sector and private philanthropy which assess how open each entity is in regards to its operations.

In our conversation, Gary Forster explains why transparency in aid is so important and identifies some of entities that rank highest and lowest on the aid transparency index.  The data compiled by Publish What You Fund also offers a very good birds-eye view of aid and development spending, so we also discuss some of the broad trends that he has seen in recent years among donors. This includes the impact of COVID-19 on foreign aid and development assistance.

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