Initiative for Open Ag Funding : Overview

Initiative for Open Ag Funding

We are a group of like-minded organizations who believe in the power of data to improve sustainable development. Our goal is to end hunger and food insecurity and to decrease poverty by ensuring that development actors working in agriculture and food security have the data they need to make smarter investments.

While organizations need various types of data to make better decisions, we are focused on improving the quality, availability, and timeliness of data concerning investments — in other words, data that seeks to answer: who is doing what, where, with whom, and to what effect?

This information can help achieve very real, on-the-ground results in the fight against hunger and poverty by allowing organizations to quickly improve their planning processes and adapt to changes on the ground.

To improve this data, this project will focus on enhancing the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard, which has become the international standard for sharing data on humanitarian and development aid activities. Our ultimate goal is to see this data used to inform investments to improve the lives of millions affected by food insecurity and poverty. To join the conversation and get involved, click here 

What we are trying to accomplish



What’s the problem?

Food insecurity and hunger constitute some of the world’s most pressing development needs. Although progress is being made, almost 800 million people worldwide still suffer from hunger.

Investments in agriculture are critical to improving food security and nutrition and to reducing poverty. However, in order to make the most effective investment decisions, organizations must have access to timely, comprehensive, and comparable information on what others are doing in the sector. For example, knowing what crops or value chains others are working with in a certain district or region allows organizations to invest in other crops or regions for a greater impact or find areas for collaboration with existing programs.

Today, such information is either unavailable, of poor quality, or not comparable due to differing data or coding standards. Without this data, organizations struggle to identify where their resources can make the most difference, miss opportunities for collaboration, duplicate efforts, or even replicate unsuccessful program approaches. Simply put, without a clearer and more reliable picture of agricultural investments worldwide, the billions of dollars invested in agriculture each year might not be reaching their full potential.

What kind of data are you trying to improve?

We are trying to improve the quality, availability and timeliness of data on investments in agriculture and food security.

To start, we use the terms “agriculture” and “food security” broadly. They are meant to capture investments in agriculture, forestry and fishery, and food security-related sectors, such as food aid. Nutrition is included only to the extent to which interventions falling under the sectors listed above are nutrition-sensitive.

By investment data, we are referring to project-level data containing details such as the investment amount, the crops or value chains being focused on, the subnational location of the project, the local implementing partners, and much more. In essence, it is data that seeks to answer: who is doing what, where, with whom, and to what effect?

This project is focused on data on investments from bilateral and multilateral donors, NGOs, and foundations. While important, data on investments from national governments and the private sector is outside the scope of this project, as is contextual data, such as soil quality, market prices, weather patterns, etc.

What is IATI?

The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) a voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiative that seeks to improve the transparency of aid, development, and humanitarian resources in order to increase their effectiveness in the fight against poverty. Bringing together donor and recipient countries, civil society organizations, and other experts in aid information, IATI provides a format and framework for organizations to publish data on development activities.

This framework, known as the IATI Standard, is an open, common data reporting standard that allows organizations to share and use comparable, comprehensive, and timely data. Designed in consultation with key stakeholders in developing countries, the IATI Standard has been adopted by many different data users, including government donors, national and international NGOs, and private sector actors.

Since 2011, more than 450 organizations have published data to IATI. This includes most major bilateral and multilateral donors. Organizations independently publish and maintain their data according to the IATI Standard, usually on their own websites or pubic data repositories. Organizations then link their data sets to the IATI Registry, enabling others to easily locate and use it. IATI provides a number of tools and resources to publish, validate, and use IATI data.

Why is this initiative focused on improving IATI data?

IATI provides the best framework for publishing comprehensive and timely information on development resources.  In essence, by focusing on improving IATI data, we can get “the most bang for our buck” in our mission to ensure that the landscape of agricultural investment data meets the needs of those working in the sector.

Moreover, many donors, NGOs, and private sector actors are already publishing data using the IATI Standard. All in all, the framework for quality data exists, we just want to make sure it works for, and is used by, those in the agriculture and food security sector.

How will this initiative improve agricultural investment data?

This project is focused on enhancing the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard so that data produced according to this standard meets the needs of key stakeholders in the development community. Accordingly, our suggested improvements to the IATI Standard will reflect the data needs of donors, NGOs, and foundations working in the sector, which we have identified through in-depth consultations. Developing tools to assist in publishing and/or using IATI data will also be a key aspect of this project.

The project activities are summarized below:

  • Conduct an in-depth analysis of the current landscape of data on agricultural investments
  • Identify the data needs of donors, foundations, and NGOs related to agriculture and food security investments through consultations
  • Based on this input, identify needed improvements in the quality of the data made available via IATI, and/or propose changes to the IATI Standard
  • Encourage donors, foundations, and NGOs to publish their agriculture and food security investment data to IATI to increase the amount of high quality, standardized data publicly available
  • Assist organizations with publishing data according to the IATI Standard by providing technical assistance and adapting or developing tools for publishing data

InterAction Project Staff:

Julie Montgomery | Director of Innovation and Learning (email)

David Duffeck | Senior Program Associate (email)