Program Area: GIE

Geospatial Impact Evaluations

Rigorous impact evaluations in a fraction of the time of an RCT

Measure real impact

Geospatial Impact Evaluations measure intended and unintended impacts of development programs. Leveraging readily available data like satellite observations or household surveys, GIE methods establish a reliable counterfactual to measure impact - at a fraction of the time and cost of a "traditional" randomized control trial (RCT).

Methodological rigor

Like RCTs, GIEs can estimate the net effect of a specific program by comparing similar units where the only difference was an intervention, or treatment. Unlike RCTs, GIEs use precise geographic data to establish this counterfactual retroactively, eliminating the need to assign program participants into randomized treatment and control groups within the program design.

Learn more efficiently

GIEs can be completed in a fraction of the time and financial cost of an RCT by eliminating the need for customized data collection in treatment and control groups before, during and after the program.

See portfolio-wide insights

GIE methods are also flexible tools that can either be used to evaluate individual projects or project portfolios.  Whereas RCTs are often implemented in narrowly bounded settings, GIEs can be used with data for an entire country (or even multiple countries), which makes it possible to draw conclusions about impacts and cost effectiveness that are broadly generalizable.

Ascertain long-term impact, even in inaccessible places

Additionally, GIEs can be implemented remotely, retrospectively, and affordably, opening up new opportunities to measure long-run programmatic impacts, which is especially useful to evaluators working in conflict and fragile state settings.

Blog Posts

February 2018

Filling the missing middle: A method for impact evaluators on a budget

Faster and cheaper than a randomized control trial but more rigorous than a performance evaluation, Geospatial Impact Evaluations (GIEs) fill the “missing middle” for organizational learning.

December 2017

Strengthening Côte d’Ivoire’s health sector with open data

Researchers from AidData will travel to Côte d’Ivoire to lead development of a USAID-funded geospatial data center.

A USAID Preventative Mini-University in Côte d'Ivoire.
February 2017

What are development corridor strategies, and do they work?

Liberia made foreign direct investment (FDI) the centerpiece of its development strategy. We examine how these natural resource concessions affected local economic growth.

Sunrise in Beira, Mozambique in 2011.
February 2017

Chinese-funded infrastructure in endangered forests: What is the data telling us?

The picture becomes clearer when breaking down the effects within each country.

The first Chinese-backed railway, Tazara Rail (pictured above), was funded in the 1970s. Now China has agreed to help Tanzania build a new 2,561km railway worth USD 7 billion that will run between the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam and the Great Lakes states of Rwanda and Burundi.