How does the Countdown 2030 Europe (C2030E) donor tracking methodology work?
C2030E tracks the latest available financial expenditure, and also provides reflections on policies and future budgets based on commitments in the policy section. C2030E presents the summary data on a dedicated web-based platform: http://www.countdown2030europe.org/.
The C2030E methodology employed to track European donor funding for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning (SRH/FP) is centred on the use of a core set of indicators to track trends in SRH/FP financing over time. The consortium analyses trends for the following indicators:
Core contributions to UNFPA: Analysis of this indicator includes all core funding to UNFPA, funding to earmarked UNFPA projects on SRH/FP and funding going towards the UNFPA Supplies Programme. This measure of funding to UNFPA is seen as a robust proxy measure for tracking funding to SRH/FP.
Multilateral funding of SRH/FP: This indicator presents core funding going towards SRH/FP for the multilaterals that are tracked as part of this methodology, plus all earmarked project support to the same multilateral organisations that are relevant to SRH/FP. Core support to multilateral organisations providing funding to FP and Reproductive Health (RH) specifically include UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, World Bank. This is automatically categorised as being spent on the ICPD category of SRH/FP Population Assistance, using the proportions from the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) questionnaire to multi-lateral organisations (combining the FP and RH percentages: UNFPA: 60,6%, UNICEF: 8,7%; WHO: 2,4%; World Bank: 0,5% of total disbursement) to ensure a clear focus on SRH/FP funding.
SRH/FP funding through all streams: To present a more comprehensive picture of funding being channelled through all the streams that C2030E partners report on, the analysis also calculates the total of all SRH/FP funding streams reported by partners (i.e. core SRH/FP funding to multilaterals + SRH/FP project funding to multilaterals + funding to international organisations/ initiatives/ research). This does not include bilateral donor to recipient country funding.
Transparency in bilateral funding of SRH/FP: This is a qualitative indicator rather than a numerical indicator like the others. Through tracking transparency in reporting of bilateral funding of SRH/FP, partners are generating a clearer picture of the key challenges, changes and trends in how their country reports on bilateral funding data for SRH/FP. This qualitative indicator is based on a judgement by the partner as to how transparent / accessible their country’s data on bilateral funding of SRH/FP is. There is a 3-point scale by which partners can judge this:
High transparency and accessibility: detailed disaggregated data is available through regular government reports from which it is easy to identify SRH/FP specific bilateral funding;
Moderate transparency and accessibility: high level reporting on bilateral funding is available with some indication of the amount going towards SRH/FP although no further detail on the specifics of programmes or recipient countries is available;
Low transparency and accessibility: Government reporting on bilateral funding is not disaggregated in sufficient detail to identify SRH/FP expenditure; only general bilateral, or perhaps health sector spend is accessible.
C2030E also tracks data for the EU institutions. The methodology for the EU is slightly different, as figures are only available later, EU institutions do not provide ‘core multilateral’ funds, and different data sources are used. The multilateral funding figures are drawn from the OECD/DAC database to which the same Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) percentages are being applied. ‘Other Multilateral Funding for SRH/FP’ represents contributions to UNICEF, WHO and World Bank and does not include funding to UNFPA. ‘UNFPA funding to SRH/FP’ represents all funding from EU institutions to UNFPA. ‘Specific SRH/FP organisations and initiatives’ represents funding to different non-governmental organisations and initiatives, including research initiatives. ‘Total funding’ is a sum of the above.
Sources of data: C2030E partners obtain their data from national annual reports and from online national databases, followed by personal follow up with SRH/FP government counterparts and/or parliamentary questions. A handful of countries use the official statistics of OECD/DAC as the starting data source. The data for the EU is drawn from OECD/DAC Database and EU’s CORDIS.
The most challenging financial data to collect is bilateral funding. This is because many countries do not categorise how much of their bilateral funding (especially through general budget support) goes to SRH/FP. In several countries, this has led to increased demands from civil society for accountability on how general budget support or support through sector-wide approaches (SwAPs) is going to SRH/FP.
We applied the 2017 exchange rates for historical figures to 2012 to make the data comparable.
Why was the Countdown 2030 Europe methodology created?
C2030E is a group of European NGO partners working in 12 European countries and with the EU institutions to advocate with their governments for support to SRH/FP. The consortium is led by IPPF European Network.
C2030E needed a consistent way to collect national data for local advocates – the C2030E Partners – to track what their national governments were committing and expending to SRH/FP, using national expenditure reports, which would make it easy to refer to in national advocacy activities.
C2030E Partners looked at the SRH/FP financial data available, but none were ideal for the local advocacy partners, namely:
Funding data categorised under OECD/DAC population assistance: Although systematised, official and in the public domain, the data was questioned by many national government counterparts. This is mostly because the data come from official statistical units rather than SRH/FP-specific units within the government, and because there is huge scope for different interpretation and classification of the codes (either due to difficulty in assigning a specific CRS code (code lists which are used by donors to report on their aid flows to the OECD/DAC databases) onto a multi-faceted project, to lack of political motivation, or to lack of sufficient project information), thus affecting the quality of data. There is also difficulty in categorising general budget support that goes to SRH/FP. The data was also not published quickly enough to be useful for national advocates to use for monitoring purposes.
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) UNFPA Resource Flows data: This relies partly on the OECD/DAC data, and therefore faces the same challenges as above. In addition, data on population assistance are collected through questionnaires, directly sent to donors. The initial challenge of the data giving too little detail on SRH and FP breakdowns was overcome on the initiative of C2030E, suggesting modifying the questionnaire and asking for specific % on SRH/FP, but the often-low response rate on these details makes the use of these data for monitoring purposes challenging. Nevertheless, the % of a multilateral organisation’s budget that goes to SRH/ FP as reported by the multilateral agencies themselves is very useful for C2030E partners and part of its methodology. NIDI % rates were updated in December 2018.
Euromapping reports: Many national advocates found that the presentation of these reports is excellent to depict cross-country comparisons in donor trends. But the data was again based on OECD/DAC categories and NIDI data, and was out of date by the time of presentation for the purposes of national advocacy and timely monitoring of European donor funding.
There was no systemised forum for presenting policy trends in SRH/FP across European donors, for example legislature, common development strategy approaches, or election effects. C2030E partners had this first-hand knowledge of their local scenes, and wanted to place financial trends within this wider context, but they lacked a forum to articulate the context; this made it difficult for them to ‘match’ policy commitments from their governments with funding allocations, a key component of advocacy and accountability.
What added value does the Countdown 2030 Europe tracking offer now?
Obtaining data primarily from national annual reports allows for reporting to be aligned to national reporting and coding systems, rather than often less-detailed coding into OECD/DAC categories. This is nationally-owned and up-to-date data.
The process of collecting data helps build the relationship of trust and communication between advocacy partner and government SRH/FP point person and broadens networks for advocacy with government departments beyond the traditional SRH/FP ones.
Gathering the same data, in the same formats, within a network allows advocacy partners to compare their data availability and trends over time; this gives them the information to approach their national counterparts with requests for more transparency.
Tracking both policy and financial data together allows for analysis of trends within wider realistic contexts (i.e. numbers, and increases/decreases in values over time, are not presented in isolation but instead understood within a wider context of what is going on in the country). This has led to significant advocacy gains in a few countries (case-studies available upon request), when budget allocations in recent years may not have matched with political commitment to SRH/FP but was discovered and flagged by advocacy partners including C2030E
Data collected by C2030E partners is the most recent financial data available in the country and policy data is real-time. For example, as elections happen, national advocacy partners are able to update the tracking with results and analysis about how results affect the SRH/FP scenario.
Financial data is mostly obtained in direct communication with the SRH/FP-relevant point person in the relevant Ministries. This is possible because the C2030E partners are local advocates who have pre-existing relationships with the SRH/FP focal points in government, and who know their national context intimately. This allows for interpretation and discussion around how data is categorised, unlike OECD/DAC data reported on the CRS system which is often completed by Statistics departments who are not involved in the context of SRH/FP support.
C2030E is unique in actively and routinely using the data it collects for increasing donors’ accountability and transparency. C2030E thus bridges research and advocacy. Several case studies have highlighted how this has improved donor accountability and data transparency over time.