IATI Tools for the NGO community

In the United Kingdom, as in other countries, large Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s), such as Oxfam UK, may have some capacities to publish open aid data. But what about the smaller NGO’s and grantees who are now required by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to share information about their project/activities in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard?

By July 2012, recipients of grants from the DFID Civil Society Challenge Fund and Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF) will need to begin reporting in the IATI standard. That’s about 100 grantees by July 2012 according to Bill Anderson of Development Initiatives. By next year, recipients of larger grants from the DFID Partnership Program Arrangements (PPAs) will also be required to report in the standard.

At the moment there are three relatively new tools for NGO’s to share project/activity information and publish it into the IATI standard. They are:

AidStream.org,
OpenAidRegister.org, and
● the AVKO.org Really Simply Reporting (RSR) tool.

The table below gives a snapshot of IATI compliance and features of each of the platforms:

IATI Tool Uses the complete IATI field set for entry Publishes IATI XML data files Free to use Registers files with the IATI registry Current features Planned features
AidStream yes yes yes yes organizational administrative features public project/activity listings and visualization of data
AKVO RSR  uses the AKVO project/activity field set planned for the second or third quarter of 2012 fees vary depending on the number of projects planned for the second or third quarter of 2012 public project/activity listings and online donation feature visualization of data
Open Aid Register yes yes yes yes cartoDB for geolocation data public project/activity listings

Lets take a look at each one in detail.

Aidstream

AidStream was designed by Young Innovations (YIPL) in Kathmandu, Nepal with the support of aidinfo. It was designed specifically for smaller NGO’s to make it easier for them to share small sets of project/activity records. Once NGO’s add their records, they can publish them and register them with the IATI registry.

Project entry form

The organizational administrators can choose which IATI fields are available for all project/activity records, and which fields can be excluded. Once the administrators have defined the parameters, organizational team members can enter their individual project/activity records into the AidStream tool.  Currently there is an internal project/activity listing for organizations and the AidStream team plans to add a public-facing project/activity listing capability in the near future as well as some data visualization tools.

Select fields to include/exclude

This tool is free to use and is fully compliant with the IATI standard.  According to Bibhusan Bista of YIPL, the AidStream code will be released as open source software within the next six months once the codebase is more stable and the documentation is more complete.  The tool is now public and is currently being piloted in Nepal where they plan to work with four NGO’s to improve its functions and user interface.   A spreadsheet import is also planned for the future.

Disclosure: the author of this article, Michael Roberts, has worked closely with both YIPL and aidinfo on other projects, but was not involved in creation of the AidStream tool.

AKVO.org

AKVO’s web site states that its Really Simple Reporting (RSR)  “makes it easy to put development projects online”.   As a paid subscriber to their service, you can have a customized page of your project/activities by filling out a PDF form for each project/activity record.  Once AKVO receives the PDF files by email they will then add those records into your public organizational space.

AKVO PDF form

The forms follow AKVO’s own project/activity format, however AKVO has mapped their RSR project/activity fields to the IATI standard.  AKVO is testing a feature to export AKVO RSR project/activity information into the IATI standard, and plans to include that feature in a release towards the second to third quarter of 2012 as well as a tool for registering those records into the IATI registry.  You can find examples of IATI export files on their test server.   The AKVO RSR tool is open source, and you can find their code base in their github directory under the GNU AFFERO GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE.

Example projects page

For NGO’s who have managed to already publish their data into the IATI standard, AKVO also offers a tool to allow their IATI-compliant project/activity records to be more easily visualized and searchable on the web.  The Dutch government is using the AKVO tool to visualize their IATI compliant project/activity data at openaid.nl

Open Aid Register

The Open Aid Register is a project managed by Ruth del Campo — a research scholar at the New York Law School — and funded by the Fulbright Commission and the Government of Spain.  Like AidStream, the Open Aid Register has been designed as an easy-to-use tool for NGO’s who don’t want to spend their time and resources publishing IATI data on their own

OpenAidregistry entry form

websites and interacting with the IATI registry.  The Open Aid Register is IATI compliant, covering the fields in the IATI Standard. The Open Aid Register also uses CartoDB to make it easy

Geolocation of project

to integrate geolocation information into project/activity records. In the near future, they will be launching a project/activity listing service.

At the moment this tool is free to use.  The tool is also open source and a link to their code base and its license is planned in the near future.

 - In a future blog post, we will explore mobile beneficiary feedback tools that are being planned and developed around the world -

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3 thoughts on “IATI Tools for the NGO community

  1. bjelkeman says:

    Nice overview. A few clarifications about Akvo RSR and Akvo OpenAid.

    Most organisations who use Akvo RSR are using it without having to pay anything, as the use is baked into the programme plan and paid for by the funders of the programme.

    You don’t have to use the offline facility of PDF forms to enter information about your projects, but can fill the information in directly in the web interface if you want to. We tend to start with the PDF form, as it turns out most people feel more comfortable with this initially and it is easier to send around to people by email to collect the information initially.

    The tool used on OpenAid.nl is not Akvo RSR, but a separate tool, which we call Akvo OpenAid. This is the beginnings of a IATI XML republishing service, which is able to import IATI data and republish it in the shape of a website. The purpose of this product/service is to allow governments and other funding organisations to be able to publish easy to use IATI data on a website without having to build their own system, like DFID in the UK and SIDA in Sweden has done. It is expensive to build these systems and we want to make it easy to import and publish IATI data. We expect to offer Akvo OpenAId as a service which we run for anyone who needs this type of service, for a small fee, as well as an open-source package which you can download and install. Again, this will be released under the AGPL open source/free software license.

    Don’t hesitate to contact me or anyone else at Akvo with any questions you may have.

  2. ruthdelcampo says:

    Michael, thanks for the overview. My thoughts after this blog post are reflected in here http://blog.openaidregister.org/post/17716955555/lets-stop-discussing-and-start-mobilizing-data
    My feeling is that we need to focus on getting the data. That’s the weak point. I would like to see an scenario where organizations that register in any of these tools and start introducing information voluntarily. Do you think this will happen at any point?

  3. [...] IATI Tools for the NGO community - ACCLAR OPEN AID DATA [...]

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