Locating Foreign Aid in Haiti

AidData is working in collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to collect location data for projects reported in Haiti’s External Aid Management Module (MGAE).

April 22, 2014
Dina Abdel-Fattah

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, donors pledged roughly $10 billion in response to the crisis. With such a significant amount of aid money coming in, the Government of Haiti refocused its aid tracking and management efforts following the earthquake. Although the Government has been utilizing its aid information management system to track aid to Haiti, there has been growing interest to use detailed, location-specific information in order to better understand where aid is going within the country.

AidData is working in collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to collect location data for projects reported in Haiti’s External Aid Management Module (MGAE).

Haiti’s MGAE implemented with support from AidData partner, Development Gateway, has been in place since 2009 to help support the government’s goals to track and manage foreign aid flows. This online tool boosts the capacity of the government to prepare and manage aid-related reports, facilitate decision-making processes and improve coordination between the government and donors.

The growing complexity of Haiti’s aid context after the earthquake was made evident during the geocoding work undertaken by AidData last year with funding from the United States Agency for International Development's Higher Education Solutions Network. From July to December 2013, AidData worked with the Haitian government to collect location data for projects reported in Haiti’s MGAE. Collecting location data allows for the geocoding of foreign aid projects - the pinpointing of exact latitude and longitude of development activities. These locations can either be related to a country’s administrative boundary (e.g. departments, arrondissements, communes), or they can be the exact location of a project activity site.

Above is a map from Haiti's External Aid Management Module (MGAE). The red point represents the location of a health project in Haiti. 

AidData and the Government of Haiti experienced challenges in collecting data for both humanitarian and longer term development projects. Capturing a complete picture of where humanitarian assistance projects are located proved to be challenging, because many donors no longer maintained a presence on the ground or ongoing contact with the MGAE team. In addition, while many humanitarian assistance projects were imported into Haiti’s MGAE from different aid tracking systems, location data was not always recorded. As a result, the geocoding efforts focused on gathering location data for ongoing projects.

Despite the initial challenges faced, there is great interest to continue the process of location data collection for this government system. The Government of Haiti sees the benefit of having this information to improve government planning and to use project-level location data as part of its decision-making processes for the country’s development. Donors see geocoded data as a useful tool to pinpoint where other donors are working, with the end goal to strengthen donor coordination. The fact that Haiti’s aid map is publicly available on the MGAE portal helps ensure that location data is kept accurate and up-to-date.

The AidData geocoding work is an important step forward in paving a path to more harmonized and coordinated aid in Haiti. Check back with us in the coming weeks for more updates on our work in Haiti.

Dina Abdel-Fattah is an AidData Project Manager.