Synergy International Systems, in close collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), organized the first global conference of the Development Assistance Database (DAD) Community of Practice (CoP). The conference took place from the 5th until the 9th of October at Synergy’s new, state-of-the-art Global Learning Center in Yerevan, Armenia.
DAD is a Web-based information system used for tracking, analyzing and reporting development activities in a particular country. By providing critical real-time information on the state and progress of development efforts, DAD supports development stakeholders in their efforts to foster effective national development. Operational in about 20 countries, DAD is the leading aid information management system on the market. Moreover, DAD provides an array of public sector management tools, including for public investment and national budgeting.
The conference brought together about 45 participants from 15 countries, including Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Comoros, India, Iraq, Namibia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen. Representatives of UNDP, USAID, the European Commission, and IATI (International Aid Transparency Initiative) also attended the event. The central goal of the Community of Practice is to promote the systematic and practical peer-to-peer exchange of experiences and knowledge. Government officials, donor and NGO representatives, and IT specialists came together for one week to discuss pressing issues related to information technology and development effectiveness.
The workshop consisted of about twenty thematic and country presentations. The thematic presentations examined such topics as the relationship between aid information and development effectiveness, the cumulative lessons learned and best practices from DAD’s implementation in the Tsunami-affected region, and recent findings about what countries expect to benefit from the use of aid information management systems.
The country presentations reflected the wide array of contexts where DAD is implemented, from emerging markets to fragile post-conflict states to post-disaster environments, among others. Each country presentation highlighted a key innovative aspect of their implementation, such as the integration between CDSS (DAD) India and India’s financial management information system; the linking of DAD Afghanistan with the State Budget Planning System (also developed by Synergy); the evolution of DAD Sri Lanka from tracking humanitarian aid to serving as the platform for integrating the government’s disparate systems; the innovative approach to developing a “whole of government” M&E system in Cape Verde; and the challenges to—and opportunities for—establishing DAD in a fragile post-conflict country.
The third day of the conference took place in the beautiful village of Garni, which is famous for its 1st century A.D. pagan temple. Enjoying a breathtaking scenic view of the temple and its surrounding mountains and valley, participants and Synergy’s staff engaged in constructive discussions about newly released DAD products.
The last two days of the conference were fully devoted to targeted trainings led by Synergy’s world-class software specialists. The training program was devised in consultation with participants and designed to accommodate the needs of different participants, especially in terms of technical depth. Training sessions addressed such topics as “Advanced DAD Reporting”; “Main Principles of Data Collection, Validation, and Verification”; and “DAD Interoperability with External Databases and MIS.”
The feedback from the participants was almost invariably positive. “The conference was organized on a high level. It exceeded all my expectations. Such events should take place very often to give countries a chance to exchange experiences and develop new working relations and networks,” said Abdul Wahed Ahadi, Program & Operations Manager of UNDP’s Making Budget & Aid Work Project in Afghanistan.
According to Michael Mutonga, the Deputy Director of Namibia’s National Planning Commission, “It was a well organized conference. It was of great use for all of the participant countries. This should become a regular event and create a dialogue between the donors and country governments.”