Recent Posts

December 2014

Unlocking the Black Box: Transparency Matters and the NGO Aid Map

In this post, we spotlight what this mapping tool has to offer and some hopes for how it can be further strengthened to advance open data for development in 2015.

December 2014

Open Contracting for Open Development: Insights and Applications

Information about public procurement can be extremely difficult for citizens, civil society and other stakeholders to access. As a result, the Open Contracting Partnership was formed to make procurement information more open, accessible and actionable

December 2014

The Demand Side of the Data Revolution: Lessons from the Government of Nepal

Drawing on the perspectives of 60+ government officials, donor staff, CSO operatives, and academics, AidData painted a picture of the government data “ecosystem” in Nepal.

November 2014

Diving into the Details: What “Aid on Demand” Says and Doesn’t Say About China in Africa

We're delighted to see that the paper provoked a fair amount of media coverage and debate among scholars. However, a lack of familiarity with the data, methods, and findings has led to inaccurate reporting and confusion. We’d like to briefly clarify several matters of fact.

November 2014

Harnessing the Data Revolution: Three Goals to Better Improve Development Outcomes

Several basic conditions need to be in place to ensure that data are actually put to good use.

November 2014

Democratizing Development: Mapping Chinese Investments in Africa

Launching today, AidData’s interactive geospatial dashboard features over 2000 Chinese-backed development projects in Africa, disaggregated to the provincial, municipal, or street-corner level.

November 2014

Negotiating the Blurred Lines Between Official Development Assistance and Other Official Flows

Without better and disaggregated data on OOF transfers by source country, it is difficult to accurately assess OOFs from DAC and Non-DAC providers, as well as the amount of debt accumulated by recipient countries.

November 2014

Reforming ODA: WIth the Rise of Central and Eastern Europe, Is It Time for a Change?

Despite joining the OECD-DAC and reporting their aid in line with ODA standards, Central and Eastern European countries continue to feel some dissonance between the OECD-DAC narrative of development assistance and their own development realities.

October 2014

Avoiding Data Graveyards: 5 Questions the Data Revolution Should Be Asking

Even as the data revolution builds a supply of better development data, it must address the broader ecosystem within which it is, or is not, used.

October 2014

Measuring Development Finance from Arab Donors

Ignoring Arab countries’ unique understandings and modalities of aid means that we are ignorant about the reality of a significant proportion of modern development finance.

October 2014

Can Emotions Influence Aid Allocation?

A recent study found that individuals giving money to charities react differently to mixtures of qualitative and quantitative evidence on aid effectiveness depending on whether they are motivated primarily by altruism or by positive emotional feeling by helping others.

October 2014

South-South Cooperation: Latin America and the SEGIB Alternative

The SEGIB's development of a robust methodology for capturing South-South development cooperation is an important achievement. It presents an interesting alternative to the ODA standard and suggests a new approach to systematically tracking development assistance.

October 2014

Style or Substance?: The BRICS in the Post-Busan World

The arrival of the BRICS had clearly brought about a fresh start in how we perceive development finance.

October 2014

The Disappearing Act: Foreign Aid to Sinking States

2013 marked a record high in humanitarian aid contributions across the globe, but assistance for SIDS decreased by 2.9 billion from 2010-2012 and is expected to continue its decline.

October 2014

South-South Cooperation: Providing Context in a Changing Landscape

We’re increasingly aware of the important role that countries in the global South play in development cooperation. But as long as we depend on existing definitions for measuring development cooperation we won’t really understand how big this role is.

October 2014

AidData Research Highlighted In Science Article

More investment is needed to reach international biodiversity targets by 2020.

September 2014

Redefining Development Cooperation: In Search Of Common Ground

The OECD Development Assistance Committee is attempting to agree on a new definition of Official Development Assistance. In the murky, ever-evolving world of international finance, such definitions are central to how we understand and allocate aid.

September 2014

Taking The Pulse Of Global Development: AidData Seeks New Insights On How Citizens Engage With Open Aid Data

This week, AidData launched Project Pulse, a new feature on aiddata.org that allows anyone to weigh in on how development projects are performing in areas of interest to them.

September 2014

How Would You Like Your Data? Putting Citizen Feedback In A Form People Can Use

How to best harness mobile technology to close the feedback loop is a topic of substantial interest and ongoing discussion in global development.

September 2014

Open Contracting: Going Granular for Increased Transparency and Accountability

Having easy access to procurement information will help move the development conversation from one about what is happening where to one about how resources are being allocated and projects are being implemented on the ground.

September 2014

Two Million and Counting: Test-Driving the Open Contracting Data Standard

This first OCDS dataset contains over 2 million European Union procurement awards since 2006, with over €1.45 trillion in contract funding represented.

September 2014

Social Audits: The Missing Ingredient to Good Governance

If citizens lack the means to actually hold their governments accountable, attempts to foster good governance will likely fail.

September 2014

Mapping for a Cause: MapGive Ebola Outbreak Mapathon

A remote mapping event organized by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team and the Red Cross, the Mapathon brought together 50+ volunteers to aid humanitarian relief respondents fighting the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa.

August 2014

OpenAid Italia: Should We Expect More?

The portal is a crucial step in the direction of open data and more transparent development investments, though it is important to note that better availability of data does not automatically equate to better decision-making.

August 2014

The One Degree of Separation between Emerging Donors and FIFA

Brazil’s expanding focus on development abroad corresponds with its broader efforts to assert its global role. But the government’s international aspirations have provoked a backlash from some of its constituents.

August 2014

Can Data Visualization Make it Easier to Crowdsource Corruption Monitoring?

A top-down information exchange is not enough to deter corruption. An effective monitoring program requires an open, productive interaction between civil society and those able to "ground-truth" information and provide context.

August 2014

Energy investments in Africa by the US, Europe, and China

Despite heavy investment from the US, Europe, and China, the International Energy Agency estimates that additional investments of $20 billion yearly are required to meet SSA’s power needs by 2030.

August 2014

Geocoding 101: A Behind the Scenes Look at Visualizing Aid and Development

Now anyone can easily download the data from our IATI publisher page or aiddata.org to understand who is funding what and where. Here’s an inside look at the process of creating geocoded data, such as that from Nepal, from start to finish.

August 2014

Demand-Driven Data is Instrumental in enhancing the Supply of Data

Open data key players in Nepal should focus on the demand for data when designing efforts to improve the supply of data, as demand for data and the supply of data are each other’s complement.

August 2014

Open Data: Bad for the Corrupt, Good for Everyone Else?

The Ugandan government still must take more strides toward making more of its data open and accessible, but by making its budget information publicly available, it is on the right path.

August 2014

Citizen-Driven Data is Key to the Success of Nepal’s Open Data Revolution

Data visualization tools are key to nurturing a stronger community of data users in Nepall, though there is a consensus that the very nature of the data being produced needs to change in order to make it more relevant to target audiences

August 2014

Where’s My Goat? Amplifying the Voice of Communities to Combat Corruption

Citizens are critical allies in the fight against corruption. But at present their voices aren’t being heard.

August 2014

Zakat and Development Finance: Filling In the Gaps

The international community has taken important steps in recent years to expand the definition of development finance, but major gaps remain. One such gap is religiously-affiliated aid, such as Zakat.

August 2014

How Does Aid Impact Democratic Change in Africa?

Aid might catalyze transitions to multipartyism and stabilize multipartyism once it is adopted, though the extent to which it increases electoral competition so that opposition parties can challenge incumbent governments is limited.

July 2014

It’s Not Just Big Data: Data Granularity and Aid Targeting

While political criteria may ultimately prove more important in the allocation of aid and spending, granular georeferenced aid on baseline problems like where aid money actually gets spent provide some intellectual ballast as to where resources ought to be directed.

July 2014

How TUFF Is It To Track Chinese Aid? Insights from Beijing’s Latest White Paper on Foreign Aid

China’s State Council published a white paper providing an overview of its funding for overseas development activities. We took this opportunity to test how well AidData has been able to capture Chinese funding with our Tracking Underreported Financial Flows (TUFF) methodology.

July 2014

China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: Toward a Beijing Consensus?

The desire to create a new multilateral institution could indicate that China feels its influence in existing development banks does not reflect the strength of its economy or its contributions to those institutions.

July 2014

Mapping a Trail to AidData

It started with a drought.

July 2014

US Private Foundation Data and the Total Resource Envelope

Given a shift in emphasis to greater international giving on the part of US private foundations, it is increasingly important to understand the scope and distribution of these grants and how this compares to official development assistance.

July 2014

Taking the Health Aid Debate to the Subnational Level

Macro-level studies largely condemn health aid as ineffective or minimally effective in the aggregate. Most of the praise for health aid comes from project-level analyses. It may be time to rethink the way we’re analyzing these relationships.

July 2014

Following the Money: Haiti Tracks Donor Commitments to Fulfill Their Aid Pledges

Nearly five years after the 2010 earthquake, basic questions such as “where has the money gone?” are still as relevant as ever.

July 2014

Beyond Open Data in Uganda: How Do We Make Citizen Feedback More Actionable?

Making data available online is a necessary first step in the open data movement, but information is valuable only when it can be used. This means getting the right data in front of the right people.

July 2014

Did the International Community Fail the Central African Republic?

The extent of the need and limited resources makes understanding how humanitarian assistance is being distributed in the Central African Republic even more critical.

June 2014

Crisis Mapping and Aid: Learning from Haiti

Crowd-sourced web maps have become a popular tool for humanitarian response. These platforms facilitate an immediate response to the most insecure regions of a country in crisis.

June 2014

Chinese Development Finance and the African State: A Capacity-Legitimacy Trade-Off?

With support from IIE and USAID via its Democracy Fellows and Grants Program, we plan to systematically assess the effects of Chinese aid and investment on recipient states at both the national and sub-national levels.

June 2014

Seeing China in Africa Through the Lens of South Sudan

China’s evolving policy for engaging with South Sudan is an interesting case study for whether Beijing will be able to reconcile its disparate interests into one cohesive foreign policy.

June 2014

How ‘rogue’ is China’s aid?

There is seems to be some resource-seeking bias in Chinese outward foreign direct investment (OFDI), development assistance, and arms transfers. But this link is not terribly strong or inconsistent with patterns of the US or other major powers.

June 2014

Do Maps Matter in Aid Allocation Decisions?

Preliminary results from an AidData study indicate that maps may, in fact, lead to better targeting of aid dollars to reach those most in need.

June 2014

2014 Summer Fellows Help Communities Use Data for Smarter Development

Funded by the U.S. Global Development Lab, 21 AidData Summer Fellows are working in five countries this summer to create, visualize and analyze geocoded data on who is funding what, where and to what effect.

May 2014

Visualizing Inequality: The Need for a Gender Data Layer

Prominent feminists are now experimenting with GIS to visualize gender differences in maps. A gender-specific layer of data could help researchers and policymakers better understand and analyze these inequalities.

May 2014

Rebuilding Honduras: The Role of Transparent Aid to Restore Public Trust in Government

This year, in partnership with USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network, AidData is supporting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the Government of Honduras to geocode all foreign aid projects tracked by the PGC.

May 2014

MapAfrica: African Development Bank Looks to Institutionalize Geocoding

The MapAfrica effort builds upon AidData’s existing partnership with AfDB to geocode their ongoing projects by applying precise location information to discrete development activities.

May 2014

Official Press Release: AidData and the African Development Bank Launch MapAfrica, Move From Mapping Financial Flows to Mapping Results

The interactive online platform enables citizens, government officials and donors to view the geographic location of AfDB’s investments in development projects throughout Africa.

May 2014

Gender and GIS: Using Maps to Improve Food Security in Uganda

Utilizing geocoded data, such as that available from the Uganda Aid Management Platform, researchers can use spatial data to understand how the gendered dynamics in Uganda make it difficult for women to realize their full potential in agriculture.

May 2014

South-South Cooperation: A Honduran Case Study

There is a new type of development cooperation that is swiftly becoming prominent throughout the world: South-South Cooperation (SSC).

May 2014

So You Want to Reform Government? Rule One: Know The Policy Domain

Much of the existing literature on political reform examines reform efforts from the perspective of a single policy domain. This observation led us to wonder if the nature of change required in some policy domains make reforms in certain areas harder to accomplish than others.

April 2014

The Great Debate: Fungibility, Citizen Feedback and the Future of Foreign Aid

Debates associated with aid’s effectiveness, or lack thereof, are numerous and divisive, coalescing around a few key issues like fungibility and governance.

April 2014

Biodiversity Conservation Aid: Who is Getting How Much and Why?

The findings of a recent study suggest that three central factors influence the kind of biodiversity aid a recipient country receives.

April 2014

Locating Foreign Aid in Haiti

AidData is working in collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to collect location data for projects reported in Haiti’s External Aid Management Module (MGAE).

April 2014

Re-conceptualizing How We Evaluate Aid: Be Wary of Managing by the Numbers

Aid agencies which are given a wider scope for independent action perform better than those that are tightly supervised.

April 2014

A Fuzzy Transparency Mandate for the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation

The development landscape is changing and our expectations for a transparency regime must similarly evolve.

April 2014

Does Citizen Feedback Circumvent or Reinforce Representative Democracy?

Feedback initiatives seek to amplify citizen voices in shaping development priorities, monitoring progress and evaluating results. How does this intersect with other elements of democracy, such as parliamentarians elected to represent their constituencies?

April 2014

AidData and the Open Aid Partnership Join Forces to Strengthen Capacity for Open Development

AidData is pleased to formally endorse the Open Aid Partnership, building upon existing collaborations with OAP partners to achieve our common goals of liberating local development data and engaging citizens and stakeholders in evidence-based conversations in development.

April 2014

Overcoming the Fears of Transparency

Transparency, a great objective in principle, can unleash fear: the fear of losing the support of donors and of damaging working relationships with partners. The natural tendency is to be protective about what filters out to the press, to spin and sometimes to self-censor.

April 2014

5 Things You Should Know Before Starting a Citizen Feedback Initiative

There are more options to choose from than ever before that can amplify citizen voices in development.

March 2014

Haiti's Government Embraces Aid Management Platform to "Build Back Better"

A wave of change is occurring as both international donors and the Government of Haiti are taking a critical look at how the past four years have progressed and identifying a viable long-term strategy for moving forward.

March 2014

Using Project-Level Information to Determine Impact: A Closer Look at Malawi’s Aid

Recent evidence suggests that targeted aid can indeed have a significant impact on desired outcomes.

March 2014

DRC Launches Geocoding Effort to Improve Monitoring of its Foreign Assistance

The launch of geocoding work in the DRC is timely, as government ministries and development partners have repeatedly emphasized the need for geographic data on foreign aid investments, and for those data to be in a common format and central location.

March 2014

The Stabilizing Influence of Chinese Development Finance in Conflict-Prone African Countries

The results of a study using AidData's TUFF methodology indicate that when “traditional” donors generate aid shocks to African countries, those countries having access to substantial Chinese development finance are significantly less likely to face conflict.

March 2014

Do We Need a Data Revolution or an Accountability Revolution?

The term “data revolution” belies the importance of the other ingredients needed for citizens to hold governments and donors accountable.

March 2014

Delivering Better Governance and More Effective Aid with Spatial Information

Information on both development inputs and outputs should be a powerful asset in delivering better governance and more effective aid for developing countries.

February 2014

Targeted Assistance vs. Diffusion: The Influence of Foreign Aid in Promoting Labor Rights

The type of assistance and source country providing the aid are important factors influencing how effective aid will be in strengthening labor rights within recipient countries.

February 2014

Perceptions Matter: The Effect of Foreign Aid on Democracy Depends on Incentives

Countries that are not strategically important or that receive more aid from unconditional donors make significantly more progress toward democracy than countries that are strategically important and receive more aid from conditional donors.

February 2014

Making Data Matter: How Aid Management Platforms are Changing Development In-Country

Launching public portals invites a wide group of stakeholders – donors, universities, think tanks, and advocacy groups – to work alongside the government in order to use aid information to improve development outcomes.

February 2014

Hackathon Challenges Developers to Improve Automated Coding of Development Data

Launching headlong into 36 hours of software development fueled by tea, adrenaline and very little sleep, hackathon attendants hoped to tackle a challenge that has long stymied the open data community – how to reliably extract structured data from unstructured text.

February 2014

Donor dependence, donor withdrawal: Implications of Malawi’s Cashgate scandal

Donor withdrawal and threats of withdrawal have certainly incentivized the Malawian government to move swiftly in prosecuting offenders. However, the Cashgate scandal may also be introducing the rest of the world to a more vocal and active Malawian civil society.

February 2014

The Sky’s the Limit: Using Satellite Imagery to Track Development Finance Projects in Africa

Skytruthing holds great promise as an innovative method to verify the status of development projects identified remotely using the TUFF methodology.

February 2014

UNU-WIDER Working Paper on Ground-truthing of Aid Projects Released

The findings from the UNU-WIDER report indicate that, among the projects researchers could visit, there was broad agreement between the project data generated from TUFF and the ground-truthing data.

February 2014

Behind the headlines: The deeper roots of Malawi’s Cashgate scandal

IFMIS, a technical solution to deter corruption in public finance management, was insufficient on its own in exposing and stopping corruption. Technical solutions alone will fall short in facing corruption when not also addressing the incentives of those in power.

January 2014

Can Data Visualizations Help Mediate Between the Worlds of Research, Policy and Practice?

Substantive information acquired from diverse information sources, synthesized and displayed in a simple, clear, and relatable manner, is necessary for the information to be effective in shaping public discourse and policy.

January 2014

Tracking Chinese Development Finance to Africa Initiative: What To Expect in 2014

In partnership with Humanity United, we will launch several new features and functionalities to the china.aiddata.org site in the coming year in order to improve the usability and usefulness of the data.

January 2014

The Maturing of the IATI Data Standard: Ensuring Quality in a Highly Networked Environment

With consistent use of organizational identifiers and good data standards, IATI will yield increasing returns to scale as more publishers share data.

January 2014

We Have Geocoded Data in Uganda – Now What?

With this geocoded data, the Ugandan government hopes to visualize who is funding what and where in their country to inform national development planning, improve coordination between development partners, and strengthen civil society interventions.

January 2014

Official Press Release: New Chinese Development Finance Data to Catalyze Research and Feedback

The January 2014 release creates a more complete picture of Chinese development finance to African countries with additional project documentation and a refined open source approach to data creation and triangulation called Tracking Under-Reported Financial Flows (TUFF).

January 2014

Putting the Pieces Together: Building a Community of Practice to Track Under-Reported Financial Flows

Absent transparent accounting by emerging donors, alternative methods are needed to capture the scale, composition, and destination of their overseas development activities. Iterating better approaches will take equal parts innovation, experimentation, and collaboration.

January 2014

How Tough is AidData's TUFF Methodology? New Evidence from Uganda and South Africa

Initial field research results revealed general agreement between the data on development projects generated via TUFF and ground-truthing fieldwork.

January 2014

Reflecting on Open Aid in Nepal: Many Steps Forward, But More Work to be Done

It is essential to the success of the aid transparency movement in Nepal that donors and the government commit to opening the data, but it is equally essential that this data is met by an active and capable civil society community that can use open data.

January 2014

Pushing the Development Finance Envelope: AidData Improves Upon Its China Data

Employing these supplementary data collection methods, we were able to generate a more reliable picture of Chinese development finance in Africa by adding 114 new projects and updating 131 existing records in our database from 2000 to 2011.

January 2014

AidData Research Consortium Seeks Answers to Big Development Questions with Granular Data

Leveraging subnational information about development finance activities – down to the province, district and street-corner level – the ARC will produce research to address pressing development questions in seven areas.

January 2014

A Data Revolution for 2014: It Starts With Data, But Ends With Action-Inducing Insights

If data is to influence decision-making in how we allocate, coordinate and evaluate foreign aid, we need more than stand alone maps, charts and dashboards. We need to not only identify what interesting data patterns and trends exist, but also to answer why.

January 2014

Connecting the Dots: Spatial Analysis and Visualization Using the 3.0 GIS Portal

Point data is useful for identifying a precise latitude and longitude or understanding the distribution of projects at a macro level.

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