Tracking Ireland’s funding commitment on HIV & AIDS and communicable diseases
Earlier this year, we published a summary analysis of trends in Irish Aid funding. It showed that the economic crisis that hit Ireland in 2008 has taken a heavy toll on the Irish government budget for overseas aid. But it also showed that much of the information contained in Irish Aid’s annual reports is not immediately useful for an analysis of spending, on a year-by-year comparison.
Despite Ireland’s commitment to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), there still is scope for improvement in the way the Government reports on what its overseas aid programme actually does. For instance, the annual reports come out late, so the most recent information available to us now is over 15 months old. And the annual reports do not provide adequate detail to meaningfully track expenditure on some of the key priorities that Irish Aid has set for itself.
Take, for instance, HIV & AIDS.
In an address to the UN High Level Meeting on AIDS in June 2006, then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern pledged that Ireland would increase spending on HIV and other communicable diseases to at least € 100 million per year. He went on to say that 20% of these resources would be spent on programmes that benefit children.
Irish Aid followed up on what became known as “the Taoiseach’s Initiative” with a special report in 2007, with lots of statistics of Irish Aid spending on HIV & AIDS and other communicable diseases for the 2001-2006 period.
But there has been no such report since.
So scholars, aid practitioners and tax payers must rely on Irish Aid’s annual reports. But Irish Aid does much more in the area of HIV & AIDS budget than would appear from the annual reports.
So we asked two students in Trinity College Dublin, Naomi Petty-Saphon and Finola Mohan, to dig into the vast OECD databases and find out the true extent of IA spending on “the Taoiseach’s Initiative”. Their conclusions? It is very hard to know how much Irish Aid actually spends on HIV & AIDS, and where the money is going. The data is there, but it simply is too difficult to find it, and to compare it year-on-year.
Good thing, then, that Irish Aid and Irish NGOs are working together to try to enhance Aid Transparency…