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At AidData, we are committed to using the best available data and evidence to address the most important challenges facing development policymakers and practitioners. From crowdsourcing information about local development conditions in Uganda to ground-truthing Chinese aid projects in South Africa, our staff and research affiliates develop, test, and scale new methodologies and technologies to support evidence-based decision making.
The Malawi Ministry of Finance, AidData and the Robert S. Strauss Center’s Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) at the University of Texas – Austin created a mapping tool that overlays data on aid projects, climate change, and conflict. Conducted in collaboration with the World Bank Institute, the mapping initiative is the first of its kind and captures nearly 800 foreign aid projects, from nearly 30 donors representing $7 billion in committed aid from Malawi’s Aid Management Platform.
The Malawi Ministry of Finance uses its geocoded information to generate aid reports, catalyze new conversations with its donor partners, and improve aid effectiveness at the local level. Recipient communities can also use Malawi’s publicly accessible geocoded aid information to identify financing gaps or inequalities of aid distribution.
Crowdsourcing technologies create true “feedback loops” between donors and community stakeholders by allowing a direct line of communication between the two with up-to-date information. AidData first tested its crowdsourcing model in Uganda, but AidData and its partners are working to ensure that this project will be replicable to other countries. The team is creating a sustainable link between AidData and country systems through expansion of the IATI format and evaluating its crowdsourcing methodology using a Randomized Control Test (RCT) to determine the most effective methods for incentivizing and collecting high-quality beneficiary feedback.
The increasing use of social media and cell phones in developing countries presents new opportunities to strengthen the involvement of communities in assessing aid flows and activities. Using UNICEF’s uReport and DevTrac systems and Ushahidi’s experience and tools, AidData is creating an Enhanced Project View as a public platform for feedback from citizens based on the IATI data format. This micro-level information gives insight into the impact of development assistance from a ground-level perspective.
AidData recognizes the need to better understand citizen motivations in providing feedback and design appropriate incentives to sustain their engagement. Therefore, AidData is evaluating its crowdsourcing methodology using a Randomized Control Test (RCT) to determine the most effective methods for incentivizing and collecting high-quality beneficiary feedback.
Limited information publicly available about development activities prevents beneficiary communities from voicing concerns when development outputs differ from what donors intended. AidData’s data platform now enables citizens in countries receiving development funds to add information from first-hand observations, photos, videos, news reports, and documents to enrich the picture of development finance data.
Each development project on the AidData portal has its own “project view” page where users can get and add information about a specific project. Users are able to contribute information in the comments section at the bottom of the project page, and they can add photos and videos to the project page’s gallery. In AidData Raw, users can contribute information in the form of working papers and publications. With this feature, we plan to increase the transparency of aid by allowing development stakeholders to share information to create a results-oriented feedback loop on project outputs and outcomes.