The Grand Bargain was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. Its goal of addressing the gap in humanitarian financing was to be realised through a series of commitments in nine key areas. In the area of transparency, a ‘Transparency Workstream’ was co-convened by the Dutch government and the World Bank to support signatories in implementing their commitment to publish more timely and high-quality data on humanitarian funding and how it is allocated and used, to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard (commitment 1.1; deadline May 2018).3 This data had to be of appropriate quality to support data analysis, including the ability to identify the distinctiveness of activities, organisations, environments, and circumstances. Signatories also committed to make use of available data in their programming and decision-making, to improve the digital platform, and to support partners to both publish and access data.
BOX 1: What is the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)? The standard is a set of rules and guidance for publishing standardised development and humanitarian data. Organisations can publish information on their finances (e.g. project budgets, funding allocations) and activities (e.g. project locations, project results, evaluations). Data needs to be provided in XML format.4 A range of organisations publish to the IATI Standard, including donor governments, some UN agencies, and NGOs.
In the First phase of its activities (2017-2018) the Transparency Workstream focused on the commitment to publish data (commitment 1.1) in order to stimulate data availability, by enhancing the IATI standard to support the publication of humanitarian data and by providing support to signatories in publishing their humanitarian data. To unlock the full potential of transparent humanitarian data, it must not only be published but actively used to inform evidence-based interventions and efficiently allocate limited resources to crisis settings. Therefore, the range of stakeholders had to be broadened to include humanitarian actors on the ground, to fully track financial flows and other information.
For this reason, the Grand Bargain Transparency Workstream, with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, commissioned Publish What You Fund and Ground Truth Solutions to conduct research into the information needs and challenges faced by data users on the ground in protracted humanitarian response settings.4