The Swedish government on Monday launched a new online service – Openaid.se – in a bid to increase transparency within development aid and enable interested parties to follow the entire aid chain.
“This is my vision of an open aid, so that whomsoever is able to gain access to information over how Swedish development aid is used,” development aid minister Gunilla Carlsson told journalists at the launch of the website on Monday.
“Transparency is the new key word for development aid,” she promised.
Carlsson argued that the website, developed together with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is one step in the government’s longer term plan to renew development aid.
“Everyone who is interested can follow the entire aid chain, from overall decisions on the direction and distribution of aid to specific decisions, payments, implementation and monitoring,” according to a statement on Openaid.se website.
The aim is for all actors involved in the managing of development assistance funds e.g. organisations and companies, to be part of the service, which would also grant access for journalists, overseas partners, individuals, and other interested parties.
“In short, it is about opening up aid for scrutiny, and soliciting ideas from more people,” Gunilla Carlsson said.
In practice, Openaid.se offers five key features, the minister explained.
Among them are a “transparency guarantee” which stipulated that all public documents and information concerning development aid would be published on the site in due course.
This information will include the donor, recipient partners, amounts and results.
Furthermore, Openaid.se would be used to enable the government to actively tackle corruption, and to invite the input of other actors into the sector.
Gunilla Carlsson also challenged Sweden and development aid actors to have the courage to say no when it was felt that aid was not being used as it should be, arguing that Openaid.se would enable transparency in this process.
The website is currently online in a Beta version and features data covering aid information dating from 2007-2010 as well as historical data from the 1970s onwards.
The information is divided into three areas – destination of aid, use of aid and development aid actor.
Subcategories, such as humanitarian aid, research and health, allow users to explore specific projects carried out within the framework of Sweden’s 30.7 billion kronor ($4.85 billion) aid budget.
There is furthermore a search function which allows users to perform a key word search and access an archive of documents related to the sector.
Except for a introductory statement, the website is currently predominantly in Swedish while many of the documents are published in their original languages.