Foreign aid data automation round the corner

Dhaka,  Sat,  03 December 2016
Published : 11 Oct 2016, 21:31:08

Foreign aid data automation round the corner

Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan


Automation of Bangladesh's database on foreign aid is now at the final stage as the government is looking to ease the data entry and reporting process of its digital aid portal, officials concerned said.

Once completed, the country will have the world's first automated Aid Information Management System or AIMS, the officials noted.  

Economic Relations Division (ERD), the nodal agency for foreign aid in Bangladesh, is leading the automation process.

"The automation will enable automatic importing of Bangladesh's foreign aid data from the global aid data repository of the International Aid Transparency Initiative into the Bangladesh AIMS", ERD Additional Secretary Monowar Ahmed, told FE.

"Such an automatic process will help significantly reduce the data entry and reporting works and will also ensure greater accessibility and transparency of foreign aid data", he added.

Although Bangladesh receives a significant amount of foreign aid each year, up-to-date information on aid flows in the country, however, was only available off line until recently.

Against this backdrop, ERD earlier embarked on a scheme to develop an Aid Information Management System to provide a single entry window for all foreign aid- related information in Bangladesh and to properly track and manage the aid flows.

Aid  Information  Management  System  or  AIMS, as it is often called,  is  a  software  application  that  records  and  processes information  on  development  activities  and  related  aid  flows  in  a  given  country.

AIMS database can capture project-level information on commitments, disbursements and expenditures of foreign aid by donor, implementer, sector and geographic location.

Different kinds of AIMS software such as Development Assistance Database (DAD) and Aid Management Platform (AMP) have already been deployed in more than 40 countries.

However, Bangladesh is one of the few countries to deploy a homegrown system as its Aid Information Management System was developed through support from a local software company called TechnoVista Limited.

The aid database is publicly accessible through ERD website and it is already capturing almost 95 percent of the country's foreign aid data, ERD sources said.

A total of 46 development partners working in Bangladesh have already registered on this database, a vast majority of which are already providing their aid data into the system, they informed.

Nevertheless, it has often been observed both from the government and the development partners' side that the present manual data entry procedure for the AIMS system can be a time-consuming and cumbersome process.

In view of that, ERD later decided to go one step further and to automate its aid information management system.

 "The automation of AIMS will significantly reduce the time and effort currently needed to enter the aid data in the AIMS system", said an official of a major donor agency.  

"If implemented properly, this can ensure better accuracy and consistency of Bangladesh's aid data", he added.     

"AIMS can go a long way in ensuring better coordination and stronger alignment  of foreign aid allocations  with  national priorities", Monwar Ahmed said.

"Easy access to comprehensive aid data will also make the government's planning and budgeting more efficient", he added.

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