As Asia-Pacific struggles to cope with COVID-19, a global recession, and existing development challenges, it is imperative that aid must be used effectively and efficiently. Initiatives for monitoring and analyzing the quantity and quality of aid in the region must be scaled up in order to ensure the transparency and accountability of donors and development institutions. Impacts of development projects that serve to worsen existing inequalities must also be exposed, as the vulnerable and marginalized continue to bear the brunt of the consequences. In the middle of all these efforts is the need to highlight the voices of the affected communities, of peoples’ organizations (POs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) experiencing and addressing such impacts on-ground.

Reality of Aid-Asia Pacific (RoA-AP) thus launches new reports, data stories, and research on its CSO Aid Observatorio platform, a CSO-initiated and maintained database of development projects funded through the Official Development Assistance (ODA) or funded by International Finance Institutions (IFIs). The platform offers on-ground narratives and evidence-based analyses of development projects in fragile nations and developing countries. 

The platform now houses 62 reports of various development projects, from 15 recipient countries in the region, stretching from Azerbaijan to Papua New Guinea. Timely updates on the platform include projects on COVID-19 response and recovery, in addition to existing infrastructure and service-oriented development projects. The impacts of these projects are monitored and evaluated against Development Effectiveness Principles and of the following areas: human rights, democracy, peace and security, and environment or climate. Relevance and linkage to achieving the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are also assessed. As of the current update, the platform has brought to light the plight of almost 50 million affected households from these development projects.

Delving deeper into these reports, the platform features new narratives and research. There are now eight data stories probing into donor interests and impacts of development projects in the region. Articles from four CSO Campaigns or advocacy campaigns of communities or grassroots and people’s organizations for the assertion of their democratic rights and for seeking transparency and accountability from government and other providers, are also now on the site. 

The Observatorio now has five Deep Dives (or policy briefs) tackling emerging and timely issues in the region and beyond. Research on the Asian Development Bank’s impact on peace and security in the region, on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s road infrastructure projects, and on the adverse impacts of the Belt and Road Initiative’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor have been launched. Deep Dives on the interlinkage of conflict and climate, as well as the role of Chinese-led IFIs in Latin America and the Caribbean have also been published. Knowledge products published on the platform serve to contribute to the existing research on aid monitoring and effectiveness in the region. 

Furthermore, in our efforts to make the CSO Aid Observatorio Training Handbook more accessible to CSOs from around the globe, translations to French, Spanish, Bahasa, Arabic, Russian and Nepali can now be found on the website. 

The platform will only improve from now on, as RoA-AP and its partner CSOs will remain vigilant of how aid is managed and utilized by donor countries, IFIs and national governments. With this, the CSO Aid Observatorio will continue to promote a human rights-based, people-powered sustainable development for the region and beyond. 

The CSO Aid Observatorio is supported by the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) and the European Commission (EC). 

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