Conventional wisdom holds that involving communities in planning and monitoring development interventions will lead to greater impact. Until recently, though, the toolbox for true community participation on a large scale has been relatively limited. The increasing use of social media and cell phones in developing countries now suggests new opportunities to create true “feedback loops” between donors and community stakeholders. Research is needed to understand how to implement this in a practical sense, and how to motivate citizens to participate.
AidData, UNICEF Uganda
, and the World Bank Institute
are developing a methodology and platform to solicit, gather, and collate beneficiary feedback on development projects and localized needs. Using UNICEF’s uReport
systems to gather information, combined with Ushahidi’s experience and tools for triaging large amounts of unstructured data, AidData is creating an Enhanced Project View that will act as a public platform for feedback via text message, photographs, trip reports, and other information that will provide greater insight into the true impact of development assistance as seen from a ground-level view.
AidData and its partners are also working to ensure that this project will be replicable in other countries. This is being accomplished in two ways:
First, by leveraging and expanding upon the IATI format
, the team is creating a sustainable link between AidData and country systems. Basing these tools on IATI will also ensure that other countries can use both uReport and DevTrac without creating a new link to the AidData Enhanced Project View. Also, the IATI standard ensures that these datasets will have tremendous value outside of AidData as they are used by other organizations, including the donors managing the actual projects.
Second, the team is evaluating its crowdsourcing methodology in a rigorous fashion, using a Randomized Control Trial (RCT)
to determine the most effective methods for incentivizing and collecting high-quality beneficiary feedback. While cultural, geographic, economic, and other factors may prevent the findings in Uganda from being entirely applicable to other countries, replicating this RCT in multiple countries can provide clues into promising methods for instigating crowdsourcing activity in developing countries.