Understanding the Data

Social, economic and democratic development in diverse societies, countries and cultures with constant change is difficult to reflect entirely in numeric coding.

A partner may aim to implement a project in several countries over a span of several years, but may find that it becomes impossible to work in one or more of them during that period because of conflict, natural disasters, or other factors beyond the partner's or Global Affairs Canada's control. As conditions change and more is learned about how to achieve sustainable results in international development, the way Global Affairs Canada works is changing, and so too is the way in which information is collected. The data recorded in Global Affairs Canada's information systems and shared on this open data site represents Global Affairs Canada's best efforts to encode Global Affairs Canada's work in leading Canada's international efforts to help people living in extreme poverty.

The seven types of data sets presented differ in three main ways—currency, timeline and definitions—which make them difficult or impossible to compare with each other.

Currency: Global Affairs Canada manages its funds in Canadian dollars. The Project Browser data, as well as the country spending and multilateral organization data in the Statistical Report on International Assistance are all in Canadian dollars. Any report produced by Global Affairs Canada for Parliament or Canadian media should be assumed to be in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.

The Official Development Assistance Statistics (OECD/DAC) reported by Canada, and other donor countries, are in U.S. dollars.

Timeline: The time at which information is produced or verified in relation to the period reported on greatly influences the reliability of the data and the frequency with which it may be changed.

Definitions: Consult the data field definitions section of each data set to understand what can be compared and what cannot be compared.

Perspective on the Past

The data presented in Official Development Assistance Statistics (OECD/DAC) is reported in line with DAC directives, by calendar year (January-December) for past years. The DAC releases the data in two phases: preliminary and final. Preliminary data is released at an aggregate level three months following the end of the calendar year. Final and detailed project-level information is available nine months thereafter, once the DAC has collected and compiled data from all donors. The DAC data contains information on disbursements and budgets for initiatives that have been approved during the reporting period.

The data presented in the Statistical Report on International Assistance is reported by Canadian fiscal year (April-March) for past years. Under the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, the Government of Canada is required to publish a statistical report one year after the end of the fiscal year.

In these data sets, the data applies not only to Global Affairs Canada but also to other actors that deliver Canada's international assistance, such as other federal government departments.

Perspective on the Present

The Project Browser reflects data currently entered in Global Affairs Canada's information systems on Global Affairs Canada's activities and is updated almost daily.

The maximum contribution amounts listed for each project are often for multiple years and may include amounts that have been disbursed; amounts committed to being disbursed to or through specific partners and executing agencies as reported in the proactive disclosure reports; and amounts that are committed to helping implement a particular project, but not with a specific partner.

Some projects are split into two or more units for administrative purposes. In these cases, it is necessary to aggregate multiple pieces of data to look at the whole project. These cases are often signalled when the last digits of the project number are not "001".

Perspective on the Future

The table in International Development Assistance Commitments shows both what Global Affairs Canada is doing to meet Government of Canada commitments related to development and the areas where funds will be directed in coming years in order to meet those commitments. Preliminary numbers reporting the recent past are subject to change.