Building capacity for aid management

Author: 
Government of Ethiopia and Development Gateway

At the 2003 High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Rome, the Government of Ethiopia highlighted its challenges in managing information on official development assistance. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Development lacked a mechanism for coordinating the collection and standardization of information on donor-funded activities, which limited the government’s capacity to plan, target, and monitor development projects. Due to its experience applying information technology solutions to issues in development and foreign aid, Development Gateway was identified as a partner in Ethiopia’s mission to streamline aid information management.

Development results

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development’s capacity to manage aid information had been limited in the past by a lack of coordination between donor partners. For example, differences between the Ethiopian calendar and donor fiscal years made it difficult to reconcile reports. The Ministry sought to rectify this problem by developing software to provide access to timely, reliable information, to harmonize aid taxonomy and reporting methodologies, to enable and improve donor coordination, and ultimately to boost aid effectiveness.

Working with local and international partners, the Ministry and Development Gateway designed and piloted the aid management platform, a software application used to collect, monitor, and report on aid information. Six years later, the platform is embedded in Ethiopia’s aid effectiveness action plan. The Ministry has made the platform the official government system for capturing and reporting information on aid activities, and the Ministry’s staff can now locate information and produce reports much more quickly. By 2011, Ethiopia had 624 completed or ongoing development assistance projects carried out between 1998 and 2011, totaling nearly $18 billion in aid flows financed by 46 donor agencies.

Enhanced performance

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has embraced the aid management platform and has introduced customizations designed for the Government’s particular needs and capabilities. The ministry created new sector coding schemes, implemented a module to track progress in achieving the indicators of the Paris Declaration, and helped develop a national planning dashboard that is now also used in other countries. The Ministry also plans to enhance the platform’s geospatial functionalities, allowing users to enter and track data on basket funds, and integrate the platform with the Government’s system for managing budget and financial information (the Integrated Financial Management Information System).

The Minister for Finance and Economic Development, H.E. Ato Sufian Ahmed, asked that data captured by the platform be made available to the public online. During 2011, the Ministry has worked to validate the platform’s dataset and develop technical requirements for a ‘Public View’ website for the platform. On the website, anyone with internet access will be able to browse development assistance projects in Ethiopia, produce customised reports on official development assistance, and view profiles of individual donor partners. This project reflects not only Ethiopia’s interest in boosting aid transparency and accountability, but its growing capacity to design and implement sophisticated software programs and data management processes.

Support to the capacity development process

National investments

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development played a key role in designing, piloting, and customizing the system, contributing considerable resources and staff hours to training programmes, data management forums, and discussions with Development Gateway on technical requirements. The system now has 171 users, 35 of whom have been trained as advanced users, business users, technicians, or administrators. Since the platform’s implementation in Ethiopia, nearly 20 other countries have implemented the system, benefitting from the Ethiopian pilot. Lessons learned include the critical importance of country ownership and a government-led process; a consultative approach involving development partners; and an incremental, programmatic approach that emphasizes data management and addresses infrastructure challenges.

In 2007, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development hosted a regional knowledge-sharing event for prospective platform users from Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Malawi. The three countries subsequently decided to move forward with introducing similar aid management systems. Later that year, the platform’s administrator in Ethiopia joined the Development Gateway team in Tanzania to help train the Tanzanian Government’s users. In addition, the Government of Ethiopia has participated actively in the three annual international workshops that have been held to date (2008, 2009, and 2010) for users to share good practices in using the system and in managing aid information more generally.

Development partners’ support

To address the Ethiopia’s capacity needs for managing development assistance and to coordinate with development partners, Development Gateway and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development undertook a partnership-based approach to implementing the platform, soliciting the assistance of experienced local and international development organizations. The OECD/Development Assistance Committee gave guidance on international reporting standards (such as aid sector classifications), while UNDP advised on implementation approach and requirements. The World Bank, the local Development Assistance Group, and the Government of India provided technical assistance and in-kind donations.

Find out more

Please contact Emily Kallaur
Email: ekallaur@developmentgateway.org
Phone: +1-202-572-9227
Web: www.developmentgateway.org

Year of publication: 
2011
Collection: 
LenCD "Capacity: Results"
Country: 
ETHIOPIA
Themes and sectors: 
Aid management
Themes and sectors: 
Information and communications technology

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