2014 Summer Fellows Help Communities Use Data for Smarter Development

*A version of this post previously appeared in William & Mary news.

“For me, it’s all about capacity building when we go in. What I want to do is show the staff how to take [AidData] data and turn it into something themselves, not have outsiders do it,” said Justin DeShazor, a senior at the College of William & Mary.

DeShazor is working with Transparency International–Uganda as an AidData Summer Fellow for the next three months. He will teach Transparency International staff how to apply spatial information on aid and development in their daily work. DeShazor hopes that by using this geocoded data, which localizes development funding and activities down to the district, town or street corner level, Transparency International-Uganda will be able to make a stronger case for smarter aid policies.

Funded by the USAID’s Global Development Lab, DeShazor and 20 other 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. This next generation of scholars and leaders are embedded with 12 host organizations, including think tanks, advocacy groups, non-profits and universities.


AidData Summer Fellows conduct a one-week training course in GIS skills

Students will work on diverse projects ranging from developing a GIS course for a Master’s curriculum program at Kathmandu University to testing ways to use geocoded data in crowdsourcing citizen feedback on development projects with UNICEF Uganda.

The projects and organizations cover a wide range of responsibilities, but the goal remains the same. Students, the ones previously collecting the aid information, will now help others around the world put it to use in program planning, advocacy and research.

“I wanted to take my work with AidData to the next level and represent the organization in a different way than I have as a geocoder,” said Rebecca Schectman, a junior at the College of William & Mary who is working with UNICEF Uganda this summer. “I’m interested in putting the data we develop to [practical] use on the ground.”

Fellows have now deployed to begin work with their host organizations in Mexico, Senegal, Timor-Leste, Nepal and Uganda. We look forward to sharing their experiences in putting data to work for local communities.

You can read more about our 2014 summer fellows and their host organizations here. Check back with us for updates as the summer progresses.

Ellie Kaufman is a Social Impact Fellow with The Huffington Post and previously worked with the AidData Policy and Communications team.

Tags: summer fellowsGIScapacity buildingstudent engagementdata literacydata skillsgeocoding