# Methodology

This methodology outlines the steps that have been undertaken to get IATI data into a format that is useful for partner country governments. It identifies how data is retrieved, reprocessed and harmonised, and finally output. The steps broadly align with the steps undertaken in the previous work outlined in subsection 1.3. This methodology will be further refined and updated during the course of this work, in agreement with the IATI Secretariat.

# 2.1 Retrieval of IATI data

After initial experiments with various APIs, the agreed approach is to download all data and then process it without using the IATI Datastore or another API. This approach is preferable given that this exercise downloads substantially all IATI data anyway. There are significant increases in performance that can be achieved through this approach.

Downloading data from IATI Data Dump (opens new window) takes 53 seconds for a zipped file of 537 MB (9GB unzipped), which contains all IATI data.

The data is retrieved once per day.

# 2.2 Selection of activities

All activities in IATI version 2.01 or above are included. 94% of files currently published on the IATI Registry use version 2.01 or above. Limiting processing to these files reduces the cost of maintenance of the software going forward, and is likely to exclude a very small amount of out of date or poor-quality data.

The data is not subjected to any validation processes. That is, we use both valid and invalid data. Where data quality issues arise, these will generally be raised with the relevant publisher, rather than attempting to implement technical workarounds.

# 2.3 Extract relevant data

Each file is processed to extract a number of fields from each transaction or budget. In some cases, we fall back to data provided at the activity level where it is not provided in the transaction or budget.

# 2.3.1 Extract data from activity

The IATI Identifier and the reporting organisation are extracted from the activity in all cases.

# IATI Identifier

The unique identifier for the activity:


# Title

The title of the activity. NB where this is in multiple languages, we have attempted to get just the English language version:

iati-activity/title/narrative[not(@xml:lang) or @xml:lang='en']/text()

# Reporting organisation

The name of the organisation publishing this IATI data:


# Reporting organisation type

The type of the reporting organisation publishing this IATI data:


# 2.3.2 Extract data from transaction

The following fields are extracted from each transaction. Where these four fields do not exist, the transaction is not processed.

# Value

The transaction value in the published currency:


# Transaction date

The date of the transaction (which is used to aggregate transactions and in the output):


# Transaction value date[1]

The transaction value date in the published currency (which is used as the date for currency conversion):


# Transaction type

The transaction type (e.g. commitment, disbursement, expenditure):


Note: initially, transactions other than incoming funds, commitments, disbursements and expenditure have been discarded. This decision could be revised subsequently depending on demand and subject to the need to keep the processing time at a reasonable level.

# 2.3.3 Extract data from transaction or from activity

For some fields, the data comes from either the transaction or the activity, depending on the publisher’s data.

# Currency

The transaction currency, or the activity default currency:

transaction/@currency or iati-activity/@default-currency

# Aid type

The transaction aid type, or the activity default aid type (only DAC aid types are included):

transaction/aid-type[not(@vocabulary) or @vocabulary='1'] /@code or iati-activity/default-aid-type[not(@vocabulary) or @vocabulary='1'] /@code

# Finance type

The transaction finance type, or the activity default finance type:

transaction/finance-type/@code or iati-activity/default-finance-type/@code

# Provider organisation

The transaction provider organisation, or the activity reporting organisation:


# Receiver organisation

The transaction receiver organisation, or the activity implementing organisation(s):


# Activity-level fallbacks for provider and receiver organisations

Where there is no transaction-level provider or receiver organisation, we use an organisation from another part of the activity. We use different fallbacks depending on which transaction type we are processing:

Transaction Type Provider org Receiver org
1 - Incoming Funds Funding Org Reporting Org
2 - Outgoing Commitment Reporting Org Implementing Org
3 - Disbursement Reporting Org Implementing Org
4 - Expenditure Reporting Org Implementing Org

Where there are multiple funding or implementing organisations, these are concatenated (joined) together with commas.

For reporting organisation, we use:


For funding organisation:


For implementing organisation:


# 2.3.4 Extract data from transaction or from activity, with potentially multiple values

Finally, two fields (recipient country/region and sector) are extracted either from the transaction or activity. At the activity level, these can be published multiple times with percentage splits. The methodology for handling multiple values is described in the following section.

# Country or Region

The transaction recipient country, or the list of activity recipient countries (where there are multiple countries, a column has been added to indicate that the transaction is part of a multi-country project):

transaction/recipient-country/@code or iati-activity/recipient-country/@code

Alternatively, if there are no recipient countries, we look for DAC regions:

transaction/recipient-rergion[not(@vocabulary) or @vocabulary='1']/@code or iati-activity/recipient-region[not(@vocabulary) or @vocabulary='1']/@code

# Sector

The transaction sector, or the list of activity sectors (NB only DAC sectors are included):

transaction/sector[not(@vocabulary) or @vocabulary='1']/@code or iati-activity/ sector[not(@vocabulary) or @vocabulary='1']/@code

# 2.4 Splitting transactions for multiple sectors and countries

As described in the previous section, individual transactions may map to multiple countries and sectors. In each case, the transaction is therefore split with the value proportionate to the percentage to this transaction for this country for this sector. (NB: Where there are no countries or DAC regions, the transaction is discarded. Where there are no sectors, the sector is output as blank - depending on which approach is clearer.)

In some cases, the published percentages may also not be correct. For example, they may not add up to 100, or there may be multiple sectors with no percentage specified. In these cases, the percentages have been adjusted and rebased so that the percentages add up to 100%. For example:

Sector Percentage (published) Percentage (corrected)
12220 Basic health care 100% 50%
11220 Primary education 100% 50%

A single transaction of USD 100 would then be split into two rows: one row for USD 50 for basic health care and a second row of USD 50 for primary education. If the same activity were classified with two recipient countries, it would be split again, now into four rows.

Care needs to be taken when correcting percentages for countries. The IATI Guidance has been interpreted differently by different organisations. Some have interpreted the Guidance as stating that all countries plus all regions must add up to 100%, whereas others have understood that countries must add up to 100% and regions must (separately) add up to 100%. The following logic is used:

  • A. If recipient-country and recipient-region exist, and recipient-country have no percentages: take only recipient-country;
    • e.g.:
    <recipient-country code="LR" />
    <recipient-region code="298" />
    • Apply 100% of the transaction value to Liberia (LR).
  • B. If recipient-country and recipient-region both have percentages, but recipient-country percentages or recipient-region percentages adds up to around 100%: take only recipient-country;
    • e.g.:
    <recipient-country code="TD" percentage="70" />
    <recipient-country code="LR" percentage="30" />
    <recipient-region code="298" percentage="100" />
    • Apply 70% of the transaction value to Chad (TD) and 30% of the transaction value to Liberia (LR).
  • C. Otherwise, take recipient-country and recipient-region.
    • e.g.:
    <recipient-country code="TD" percentage="50" />
    <recipient-region code="298" percentage="50" />
    • Apply 50% of the transaction value to Chad (TD) and 50% of the transaction value to Africa, South of Sahara (298).

# 2.5 Currency conversion

As data is published in different currencies (depending on the publisher), individual transactions need to be converted to USD using the closest exchange rate date to the transaction value-date. Monthly exchange rates for 169 currencies are sourced from the IMF's International Financial Statistics[2].

# 2.6 Handling budgets

Forward spending data is also important to capture. It is more challenging, as unlike transactions, budgets are not classified by sector or country – so it is not possible to specifically state the proportion of a budget that is going to a particular country or sector. In order to make this assessment, certain data from the transaction or activity level needs to be applied to the budget data. For example, where there are no activity-level sectors, the proportion of the value of commitment transactions to different sectors is used to apply sector splits to budgets in a similar way as described in section 2.3, above.

This process of calculating the proportion of commitments is used for:

  • Aid Type
  • Finance Type
  • Sector
  • Country

For the Provider Organisation field, the activity reporting organisation is used. For the Receiver Organisation field, the activity implementing organisation(s) is used.

Where budgets span more than one quarter, they are split into multiple rows that map to exactly one quarter. The value is split proportionately[3]. This is necessary in order to maintain comparability between transactions (which are marked with a single date) and budgets (which span a period, and which may not align with the government’s fiscal year).

Where revised and original budgets are both published for the same period, revised budgets are used instead of original budgets.

# 2.7 Rolling up transactions

Transactions are aggregated up into one row per quarter, where the following other fields are all identical:

  • IATI-Identifier
  • Reporting Organisation
  • Reporting Organisation Type
  • Transaction Type
  • Aid Type
  • Finance Type
  • Provider Organisation
  • Receiver Organisation
  • Sector
  • Country

The transaction date is set to the last day of the quarter.

# 2.8 Conversion to target currency and fiscal period

The target currencies are initially set as USD for all countries. Partner countries will be requested to let us know if they would like a target currency other than USD, in which case the total amount will be converted to the target currency. The exchange rate date will be the last day of the quarter. The fiscal quarter and fiscal year may also be added as additional columns. These will reflect the relevant country’s own fiscal calendar[4], until otherwise requested by a particular country.

# 2.9 Language

The data is available in English by default. However, it is also being explored whether it is possible to publish the data in French for francophone countries.

# 2.10 Processing of data

The data is processed on Github Actions, which is a free service as long as the processing time is less than six hours. This runs nightly. The resulting data files are published on Github Pages. This is also a free service, as long as no file is larger than 100MB and the total repository size is not larger than 1GB.

Given these limits, it is important to keep file size and processing times low. Ensuring that the entire workflow can be delivered through free tools also significantly improves the sustainability of the tools.

# 2.11 Licensing

All outputs are published on Github and are openly licensed according to the GNU Affero General Public License (AGPL) v3.0[5].

  1. NB: it appears that some publishers are using the last day they updated their data as the transaction value date. In these cases, we have continued to use the value date, and flag this as an issue to be raised with the publishers by IATI Support. ↩︎

  2. https://data.imf.org/?sk=4C514D48-B6BA-49ED-8AB9-52B0C1A0179B (opens new window) (opens new window) ↩︎

  3. If a budget does not perfectly span quarters, but instead spans part-quarters, the number of days in that part-quarter arrer used to calculate the proportion of value to be attributed to each quarter. ↩︎

  4. The CIA World Factbook list of fiscal years is initially used to determine each country’s fiscal year: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/228.html (opens new window) (opens new window) ↩︎

  5. https://www.gnu.org/licenses/agpl-3.0.en.html (opens new window) (opens new window) ↩︎