Criteria[edit | edit source]

Open aid and open development refer to several things:

The word "open" has become trendy. It is important to distinguish between true openness and (for example) APIs for data which come with restrictive use agreements.

Larger aims[edit | edit source]

Larger aims might include:

  • Better transparency of aid spending. Note:
  • More coherent information about aid projects. E.g.:
    • The AidData project is the largest free online directory of development activities, telling who is doing what in international development, where, and with what funds. AidData is the result of a merger between Project-Level Aid and Development Gateway's Accessible Information on Development Assistance.
  • Improved linkages of outcomes to activities and funds spent. In particular:
    • making the information buried in monitoring and evaluation reports more accessible and structured. Information could then be gleaned across projects, activities, and donors. (Note that semantic tools in MediaWiki are one possible way of making these comparisons; other tools also can, and allow for more sophisticated analysis and presentation.) The obvious application is to look at recent donor funded projects on an issue or in a country, to relatively quickly see which activities did and didn't work well, and to have some immediate data to begin asking why (or why not).
  • Making development knowledge and experience easy to find, organize, mash up and use.
    • There is a vast amount of knowledge, but it tends to be locked away or accessible only in very restricted ways. opening this up would certainly lead to deeper understanding and insights.
    • An open standard for publishing web content is needed: reports, tools, resources, case studies, blogs, and other formats, to allow searching by topic and country without hunting through stove-piped data repositories. An extended version of RSS way allow this. E.g. note how Agrifeeds aggregates and organizes content by topic and country, with many donors and projects.[1]

Open aid[edit | edit source]

Open aid seems to be less widely discussed than open development. The essentials of open aid might include:

  • Transparency of aid programs, regarding how money is spent, and the measured outcomes of the project.
  • Publishing practices and procedures openly (and under an open license).
  • crowdsourcing ideas for solutions to international development challenges, for constructive enhancement of programs and strategic planning.
  • incentivizing participation from people outside of formal development institutions to make development projects work more effectively.
  • creating open platforms that enable new actors and those at the base of the pyramid to create feedback loops for donors and other traditional development organizations to strengthen their systems.

Major agencies[edit | edit source]

Most of the major agencies do not practice open aid or open development. Exceptions include:

  • USAID - as a federal US government body, all writing produced by the agency is public domain. How does the agency fare on other measures of openness?
  • Surely there is more than one example? Please help expand this list!

Multilateral international institutions[edit | edit source]

The United Nations and World Bank and their many component organizations (such as the Food and Agriculture Organization) are funded by taxpayers around the world; thus it might be expected that they would be accountable and enable people to use the data that they paid for. In practice, these organizations are far from open. Their permissions statements specify non-commercial and educational use only, and presumably some form of no derivatives agreement is implied - it is hard to tell due to the lack of a clear content license.

In the few cases where a clear license has been used, they typically use a Non-commercial clause, and even a No derivatives clause.[verification needed]

A partial exception is WaterWiki[1], a United Nations (UNDP) project, which uses the CC-BY-SA license[2] (though it isn't easy to find this notice). On the downside, editing is not open, it is not clear whose participation is invited, and registration is by request, which they may not respond to, even for qualified water professionals. Much of the content is posted as PDFs (a proprietary document format from which it is difficult to extract information) attached to pages, and it's not clear if they are covered by the open license too. Thus while adopting a form of radical openness (a wiki) it is in fact quite closed.

Are there better exceptions to this? What are the hopes for change?

Organizations and networks in open development and open aid[edit | edit source]

  • "Open Development Wiki" There has been talk about an open development wiki; in practice, Appropedia is the only active wiki on open development[verification needed] and is now expanding in its development and aid-related pages.
  • Working Group on Open Knowledge in Development - Open Knowledge Foundation
  • openDev: Open Development, Data and Collaboration - social network site set up for a 2008 Open Development BarCamp.
  • - Visit today to learn about innovations in open approaches to international development. Join the listserve and find out more about the Global Development Commons initiative at USAID that promotes innovations in international development through knowledge-sharing, collaborative problem-solving and partnerships.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Open Development Barcamp Recap, July 14. 2009. Four key point.

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Discussion[View | Edit]

Name: Open Development or Open Aid?[edit source]

Is "Open Development" the most appropriate name? It seemingly precludes any relevance to complex emergencies, humanitarian relief and early recovery (to name a few). A page/project named "Open Aid" is more inclusive of these other activities.

A few points in this regard:

1. Inevitably, discussions within "Open Development" will arrive at the topic of Darfur/Somalia/Iraq/Afghanistan, at which point the comments and suggestions of actual aidworkers will be helpful, many of whom toil in circumstances very much removed from the definition of "development".

2. Many critics of aid are fond of prefacing their comments with caveats such as, "my criticism applies only to bilateral aid" etc. This is nonsense. Aid is aid is aid. The political ethos that influences bilateral aid also influences humanitarian relief because at the end of the day, its all (more or less) coming from the same donor.

3. Early Recovery represents the merging of development strategies and relief tactics in order to more sustainably deliver aid to situations of protracted crisis (Darfur, Somalia, Iraq...). Its not "post-conflict" rehabilitation--technical experts restoring society back to "normalcy"; its not "post-conflict" reconstruction--technical solutions remaking society into another Dubai; Its participatory recovery in the very midst of conflict--solutions designed and developed by actors accountable to aid constituents. For that reason, no, its not development, and no its not relief, rather it is a blending of both, at the same time.

Change the name to "Open Aid" and open the discussion up to everyone. Smaller branches "bilateral"/"development"/"relief"/"recovery" can be created if specialization is needed.

Joelio 16:53, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, Joelio. Terminology is often a problem - here are my initial thoughts:
  • "open development" is a term that is already in use. Of course, that's not an adequate reason to stick to it.
  • Development isn't a subset of aid - rather, they are overlapping concepts. Some of the most interesting development is that which is not characterized as foreign aid, and may not be a result of foreign assistance at all. CLTS is an interesting example of a non-subsidy based approach which uses limited external assistance (facilitation only) and which as a result has been copied by other communities without a direct external influence.
  • I think you make a strong case for "Open Aid". Some of what has been talked about as open development (including by groups like aidinfo) either fits into the overlap, or better fits as Open Aid.
  • So how do we organize the pages? I'd suggest Open aid and development for the overlap, and for general principles that apply to both; and then pages for Open aid and Open development.
As I say, these are my initial thoughts. I'm open to changing my views.
Early Recovery sounds very promising. As I understand it, participation is often a good predictor of success for development projects... successfully applying it to aid/emergency situations sounds very challenging, but I'm glad that someone is doing it. --Chriswaterguy 17:18, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Chriswaterguy, you make a very important counterpoint: "Some of the most interesting development is that which is not characterized as foreign aid, and may not be a result of foreign assistance at all". Your solution, Open aid and development, may be better, especially if the desire is to attract and include diverse perspectives. Debates on terminology can carry on for quite a long time, but I'm curious if "humanitarianism" would capture the ethos of your Open aid and development suggestion..?
Joelio 17:34, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
I'll be interested in other input... I'm comfortable with Open aid and development. I wonder what humanitarianism implies to others? You're right, debates on terminology can become very lengthy. No need to nail it down now though - it's easy to move a wiki page later, and also easy to briefly note differing terminologies in a section near the top.--Chriswaterguy 18:00, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
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