Global health aid rose by 400% from $5.6 billion in 1990 to $28.1 billion by 2012, sparked by global concerns over HIV/AIDS, re-emerging TB, new pandemics like SARS, the rising burden of diseases like cancer and diabetes, and still-unacceptably high levels of maternal and child deaths.

Remarkably, this increase has not yet prompted the development of tools that would enable donors to co-ordinate, plan, monitor or evaluate the effectiveness of their investments. In fact, it could be argued that this large amount of money, the majority of which comes from public sector donors, is among the least transparently allocated, monitored, audited and evaluated part of governmental budgets - which is worrying, given its sheer size and potential importance of the investments.

The new PLANET tool is a response to this problem. Based on crowdsourcing approaches, it draws real-time information from those involved in programme delivery - funders, managers and recipients.
Simple enough to run on a smart-phone, PLANET turns complex and opaque analyses on implementation of development programmes into a flexible and user-friendly tool. This allows decision-makers to prioritise, monitor and evaluate large-scale development programs, and more closely assess the effectiveness of investment. The tool was developed by Prof. Devi Sridhar and Prof Igor Rudan of the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Prof. Sridhar says, 'The evaluation of programmes funded by major agencies is too often done in an unacceptably opaque manner with large costs and time lag. PLANET is a tool that solves these problems and our hope is that it becomes widely used by policy-makers to increase the effectiveness of programmes.'