AidData’s Summer Fellows Put Data to Work for Development

16 AidData Summer Fellows help organizations in 4 countries put open data and GIS to support smarter and more effective aid policies

Sixteen student researchers touched down in four countries last week to begin work as AidData Summer Fellows. This AidData program, now in its third year, embeds fellows within research institutions, civil society organizations, development partner offices and government agencies to provide 10 weeks of hands-on training in the use of geocoded aid data.

The 2015 Summer Fellows’ cohort hail from 7 US universities and are hosted by partner organizations in Uganda, the Philippines, Peru and Ghana. Collaborating with varied stakeholders and on diverse projects, the fellows share a common interest in helping others use hyper-local information on aid projects to support smarter and more effective aid policies.

Prior to deploying to their host organizations abroad, the 16 fellows descended on AidData’s Williamsburg, VA office at the end of May to participate in a weeklong “boot camp.” AidData staff provided guidance to the fellows on available resources to use, and train others in the use of, open data and geocoded information to support program planning, advocacy and research.

Prabesh Basnet, Emily McLenigan, and Lu Sevier from the College of William & Mary are assisting the Map the Philippines network, a new initiative funded by Making All Voices Count that leverages open source tools like Humanitarian OpenStreetMap to mobilize universities, NGOs, local government, and development partners to map key infrastructure, track aid, and build community disaster resilience. “We are most excited about having the opportunity to facilitate coordination across development partners and to increase resilience for disaster response," said recent graduate Basnet.

The 2015 AidData Summer Fellows’ Cohort hail from 7 universities. Cate Johnson and Emily Anderson (pictured) come from the College of WIlliam & Mary and the University of Colorado-Denver, respectively. Other participating universities include: Brigham Young University, University of Texas-Austin, University of California-Berkeley, Tufts University and the University of Redlands.

Bree Cattelino from the College of William & Mary and Ethan Rank from Brigham Young University are working with the Agency for Transformation in Uganda to help make government budget information more accessible to farmers and assess the effects of climate change on farming techniques. “I am most excited for any and all GIS work that we do,” says Cattelino, a rising senior. “I find those technologies fascinating, and I think it will be really amazing to actually apply them to tangible research.”

Throughout the summer, Summer Fellows will be providing updates from their roles via AidData’s social media platforms as well as on the First Tranche. To learn more about the 2015 Fellows and their host organizations, visit their page on AidData.org.

Michael Christesen is a rising senior at William and Mary and the AidData Summer Fellows Operations Intern. The AidData Summer Fellows program is made possible with support from USAID’s Global Development Lab through the Higher Education Solutions Network.

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