Recent Posts

December 2016

Rating the 2016 project performance disclosure practices of 50 donors

Despite the fact that most funders of overseas development projects are now signatories to major transparency initiatives like IATI and the Open Government Partnership, only two donors systematically publish standardized project performance ratings.

A heat map displaying IEG project performance ratings for all sub-nationally geo-referenced IDA and IBRD projects approved between 2001 and 2011.
December 2016

Country ownership and aid: Learning from partner country perceptions of the US government

Can the US government improve the local ownership of its foreign aid programs by adopting more of the practices that its partner countries regard as useful?

A US delegation visited Protection of Civilians sites in Juba, South Sudan on May 27, 2016, meeting with camp leaders and women’s representatives. The delegation included, among others, the US Ambassador to South Sudan and the USAID Mission Director in South Sudan.
December 2016

From Pork to Performance: Follow the Money; It’s the Tip of the Iceberg

Can technology and transparency disrupt the status quo of pork-barrel politics and produce digital dividends by moving government performance out of the shadows and into the spotlight?

Community-driven projects such as this drainage project in Cebu, Philippines help promote transparency.
December 2016

Three insights into what data users demand: Are open data advocates listening?

In early 2016, the AidData Center for Development Policy interviewed close to 200 policymakers and practitioners in three countries about their demand for data in the sectors of education, health and agriculture. Here's what we heard.

The morning of October 5th at IODC16 in Madrid, Spain.
November 2016

Parceling out prosperity? Tracking and evaluating the impacts of natural resource concessions in Liberia

How concerned would you be if a third of your country's land was granted to foreign investors?

Martha Togdbba of Kpaytno, Liberia, grows vegetables, including tomatoes and chili peppers. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl and Bread for the World, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
November 2016

Context matters in foreign aid’s effect on violence

Does foreign aid to conflict-prone countries make them more stable, and decrease the frequency and intensity of conflict? Research on the complicated nexus between aid and conflict has produced conflicting results, with no consensus on foreign aid’s true effects.

A group of children from the Mentao refugee camp in Burkina Faso during a workshop activity in a hygiene and public health training. Conflict in the north of Mali, the entrenchment of armed groups and the spread of instability has led to increased humanitarian suffering across the region.
November 2016

Quantifying remoteness: A scale of accessibility across Nepal

More than two weeks after a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the country and killed nearly 9,000 people in April of 2015, the first help to reach the highest village in Makalu region was a single man.

A map of the scale of remoteness in Nepal.
October 2016

Aid to refugee camps brings help — and harm

Humanitarian aid has become an increasingly crucial component of the international community’s response to violent conflict. In some ways, it might be making things worse.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at Zam Zam camp outside El Fasher, Sudan in May 2008.
October 2016

Debt, deals, and dictators: How Africa’s autocrats adapt to aid requirements

Do Western donors' aid recipient requirements really constraint autocrats' repressive abilities?

A flag with a portrait of Congo’s President, Denis Sassou Nguesso, lies draped over a road bike.
October 2016

Aid and the intensity of violence: Can good intentions backfire?

Do foreign aid commitments to countries experiencing ongoing violent conflict affect the intensity of violence in different regions? One theory says "yes."

Soldiers of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army being redeployed in 2008 to form a new battalion with the Sudan Armed Forces in Manyang, Sudan.
October 2016

Untangling the complex relationship between aid and conflict with subnational data

Outside actors frequently try to address the causes and consequences of civil conflict by offering aid to “one side” or to innocents caught in the middle. However, there are still some unanswered fudamental questions regarding aid's real effect on conflict.

This map of RGA departments and municipalities within Colombia was generated using GADM administrative boundaries.
October 2016

The changing tactics of aid when partisanship runs high

The U.S. distributes almost twice as much foreign aid as any other nation; in 2015 alone the U.S. spent about $27.4 billion on foreign assistance. What happens when an uncooperative Congress makes it difficult for the executive branch to allocate bilateral aid?

Washington DC., 2013 World Bank / IMF Spring Meetings. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
October 2016

Suits on the ground: Does "ground game" buy influence?

Does “ground game” — the strength of a development partner’s local presence and direct engagement with recipient government officials — affect how in-country decision makers assess the performance of development partners?

Alexandra Riboul with USAID talks with children at Tabarre Issa Emergency Relocation Camp in Haiti on June 7, 2010.
October 2016

Groundbreaking study on how developing world leaders view German aid

The study is the first to analyze Germany’s official development assistance activities based on the experiences, observations, and opinions of decision makers in the countries that German aid agencies seek to help.

The German flag flies in front of the Bundestag, the national parliament of Germany. Photo by Thomas Ormston, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
October 2016

Small but mighty: Denmark ranks highly as a development partner, according to report

Denmark is one of only six countries in the world to achieve the UN's development assistance target, though this is only part of the equation for development success. How do Denmark’s development efforts measure up from the perspective of its partner countries?

The Danish flag flies over the skies of Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Jacob Bøtter, licensed under (CC BY 2.0).
September 2016

AidData publishes geocoded dataset on Chinese financing in ecological hotspots

The dataset captures $161 billion in financial commitments between 2000 and 2014 and extends the geographical coverage of AidData’s existing database of Chinese development projects in Africa to parts of Asia and Latin America.

This map draws on Chinese infrastructure project location data from AidData and forest cover loss data from Hansen et al. (2013).
September 2016

Four open data speed bumps on the road to ending hunger

Without the right information at their fingertips, development decision-makers are flying blind, relying on intuition rather than evidence in their efforts to zero out hunger by 2030.

2013 AidData Summer Fellow Madeline Clark stationed with CEAPRED in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she trained staff to integrate geocoded data into their work on sustainable livelihoods and food security.
August 2016

Viewing poverty more clearly — from space

Ground-breaking research by Stanford University scientists has combined satellite imagery taken from space and machine learning to bring better measurements of poverty and economic development within reach.

Photo of the International Space Station and the aurora by NASA.
August 2016

Sunlight for growth: AidData joins GODAN Action to open up data in agriculture and nutrition

GODAN Action will seek to leverage open data to increase crop yields, improve nutrition for consumers, and promote evidence-based policymaking.

A man holds a seed pod.
August 2016

How do other countries perceive the US government's global development influence?

With the recent White House Global Development Summit and passage of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA), it is an opportune time to reflect on lessons learned from the United States’ performance as a development partner.

A map of the US' agenda-setting influence.
July 2016

PEPFAR Innovation Challenge to reduce HIV/AIDS in Africa awards AidData two-year project

AidData will produce new tools and analysis to support policymakers making crucial healthcare decisions in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Mother and newborn at the Maternal and Child Health Training Institute for medically needy individuals in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
June 2016

AidData Summer Fellows begin worldwide journey at “Bootcamp” training

Now in its fourth year, the Summer Fellowship program continues to provide opportunities for future leaders in the field of international development to gain hands-on experience abroad.

The 2016 Summer Fellows in Williamsburg, VA before departing to eight countries to support geospatial analysis and projects.
June 2016

Tracking investment in disability inclusive development

How do we ensure people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups are included in the post-2015 development agenda?

An overview of "No One Left Behind: A Road Map for Disability Inclusive Development."
May 2016

Crowding in funding for the SDGs: Reflections on the missing development trillions

Now that the world has agreed on 17 goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators for the SDGs, the dialogue is shifting towards the “price tag” the SDGs come with. Estimates on this abound, and are in the range of $3-5 trillion.

Seventeen goals to transform our world, the Sustainable Development Goals encompass 169 targets and 230 indicators, and come with a price tag of $3-5 trillion per year.
May 2016

Does foreign aid fuel trust? Unexpected evidence from Uganda

Initial findings suggest that aid has a positive effect on future growth potential by fostering social capital, which can be converted into future economic gains.

Geolocalized Foreign Aid in Uganda
May 2016

Making data matter for development: Introducing the 2016 AidData Summer Fellows

This year’s 16 fellows will assist host organizations in Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, and Uganda.

Meet the 2016 AidData Summer Fellows
April 2016

Announcing AidData’s Core 3.0 Research Release

AidData’s Core Research Release (Version 3.0) is our most comprehensive dataset tracking international development finance.

April 2016

Reflections on this week’s coverage in The Economist

In “Apples and Dragon Fruits,” we analyze the factors that motivate China’s provision of official financing from China to Africa. One of the core findings is highlighted in this week’s edition of The Economist. We’d like to take this opportunity to clarify our findings.

Dragonfruits and apples.
April 2016

Evaluating evidence from a USAID governance project in Ghana

Local politicians and bureaucrats in low- and middle-income countries play a crucial role in the distribution of aid dollars, acting as gatekeepers in determining which constituents receive aid, and to what degree that assistance is effective. Let's look at Ghana as an example.

Women from Ghana dance at an event to raise community awareness about healthy behaviors.
March 2016

Walking the talk: Lessons learned and looking ahead to wave two of AidData’s Omnibus Survey

As international pressure mounts to deliver on commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is ever more important for development actors to understand how they can maximize their effectiveness and be helpful partners.

March 2016

“Beyond Africa”: A glimpse into AidData’s forthcoming dataset on Chinese financing in ecological hotspots

The forthcoming dataset captures more than 1100 Chinese projects from 2000 to 2014 in 19 countries, totaling $95 billion in total official financing.

Media reports comprise ~55% of the total resources for all projects, whereas government sources consist of 20% of the total resource distribution.
March 2016

AidData students transform skills developed at AidData to create award-winning app

The way they tell the story, app-developers Kelvin Abrokwa-Johnson and Nathan Owen were just two eager William & Mary students who came to AidData looking to gain career skills. What they came away with, though, was much more than that.

AidData and students Nathan Owen and Kelvin Abrokwa-Johnson with their award-winning "Astüte" team at the Dominion Enterprises Hack-U hackathon.
February 2016

Striking a balance: How donors can more effectively promote sustainable reform

Development partner organizations must strike a fine balance between their ambitions and political reality to effectively promote meaningful reform.

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