AidData researchers have concluded that attaching only a single sector code often fails to capture the wide variety of development objectives aid projects seek to address. AidData has developed a coding scheme to address the complexity of such multi-purpose projects that allows researchers to capture their granularity as well as determine the project’s dominant purpose.
The AidData coding scheme is an extension of the widely used OECD CRS purpose codes. However, the two diverge in non-trivial ways: where the OECD system seeks to capture a single overall purpose of any given aid project, AidData attempts to capture the overall purpose and each individual activity. Each project in the AidData coding system is coded for an overall purpose and at least one more detailed activity code, creating a more granular picture of development assistance.
Just as for the CRS, the AidData coding scheme assigns one purpose code for each project, which represents the dominant sector targeted by the project. The purpose codes for AidData’s scheme are the same as the CRS’s “main codes” except for a few additional purpose codes that clarify and add detail. Primarily, detail is added using activity codes (described below). If the project fosters more than one sector, then the project will have a multi-sector purpose code.
The AidData scheme is also useful at a more granular level. During the coding process, coders attach activity codes to each project based on information provided by the donor in the title and description fields. The activity codes for the new scheme are derived from the “Clarifications/ Additional notes on coverage” section of Annex 5 as well as the “detailed codes” in the CRS coding scheme. These activity codes are a subset of their respective purpose codes. For example, the activity code 11220.03: Basic education infrastructure is found under 11220: Primary education. Every project is assigned at least one activity code, but there is no limit on the number of activity codes that can be associated with a particular record.
However, these codes should not be used for financial aggregation. Activity codes are assigned n-to-one on financial records, but there is no way to reliably divide a financial amount by n activity codes (i.e., if a project’s total commitment was $1,500,000, it is unknown how these funds were allocated among n activities). Instead, these codes should be used as flags for users who wish to isolate projects with a specific activity.
To date, the AidData coding scheme has been applied to over 70,400 activities in the dataset. Activity codes are currently being added to OECD records, and will be available soon.
Because the AidData coding scheme subsumes the original CRS structure with two sets of codes, users can, with some exceptions, generally make the data compatible with other OECD CRS coded data by using the AidData-suggested OECD CRS purpose code. These codes are generated from the assigned AidData codes based on coding instructions in the “Clarifications/Additional notes on coverage” section of Annex 5 as well as the “detailed codes" in the CRS coding scheme.
The AidData coding process includes three steps: first code round, second code round, and arbitration. During each code round, an AidData team member reads all available descriptive information for a project and assigns a single purpose code, one or more activity codes and, if appropriate, technical assistance or feasibility study markers. After a project has been coded twice, another team member reviews the two code rounds, ensuring that all aspects of the project were captured by the coders. In some cases, activities are “auto-arbitrated”: when both code rounds agree on purpose, technical assistance and feasibility study, AidData’s internal software assigns the activity codes from both code rounds.
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