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How much international aid is actually reaching the poor, in the world today and who is really benefiting from the billions of dollars spent each year in the name of global sustainable development? The truth is that we cannot easily answer these simple, but important questions. Why not?
Transparency Traps: Global Development and the Politics of Aid Data unravels the promises and perils of the so-called transparency revolution in international development. Based on extensive participant observation, over 550 interviews, and fieldwork in 14 countries, this book focuses on international efforts to establish accountability standards and improve access to data on over $150 billion in annual aid each year. Ultimately, this research shows that realizing the promise of aid transparency faces numerous challenges: vast supplies of data that are ultimately neither accessible nor useful to aid recipients, riddled with errors and disinformation, and falling far short of providing the kind of aid accountability and effectiveness theorized by its advocates.
Transparency Traps: Global Development and the Politics of Aid is ultimately a tell-tale story not just about development aid, but also about the big data and the Data for Development Revolution. Yet it also generates lessons about how we achieve both the means of transparency and the ends of data-driven decision making that can lead to greater accountability, equity, empowerment, and policy effectiveness in global development — if only we engage in critical self-reflection along the way.
About the speaker
Dr. Kate Weaver is Associate Professor and Associate Dean (on leave) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and co-director of Innovations for Peace and Development at The University of Texas at Austin. She currently holds the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Kate’s research focuses on global economic governance and international development. Specifically, she writes widely on the politics of aid data, transparency and accountability, the power and pathologies of development data, and representation and reform in international financial institutions. Outside of her academic work, Kate serves on the executive boards of Bread for the World and the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and works with several other non-profits and foundations on issues of global climate change, food insecurity and nutrition.