Yesterday the World Bank unveiled an interactive mapping tool that allows users to view the locations within a country where World Bank project dollars are spent, view expenditures by sector, and overlay these projects with sub-national data on poverty, population, infant mortality, etc... The three countries that are currently mappable in this beta version are Kenya, Bolivia, and the Philippines. The underlying data used in this mapping tool was created this summer when AidData researchers partnered with the World Bank on a project called Mapping for Results.
In addition to the searchable maps on the World Bank website, my colleagues Mike Findley, Dan Nielson, and Josh Powell are working on several case studies of aid allocation. In Nepalactive World Bank projects are visible on maps showing population density and poverty rates.
A case study in Africa focuses on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where a country's conflict history can have a major impact on the location of development projects. According to Findley and his colleagues, "While few agricultural, energy, or water supply projects went to the Kivu regions, many health and transportation-related projects did locate there. In fact, health appears the overwhelming focus of the World Bank in DRC, while the transportation projects largely target the borders with Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. This suggests that the World Bank’s country strategy in DRC seeks to improve the health of the general population while promoting regional integration to facilitate trade."
In a Thursday panel hosted by the Bank on Open Development Solutions Aleem Walji, Manager for Innovation at the World Bank Institute, highlighted the possibilities of using open data to create apps and maps. Walji suggested that if the World Bank and other donors provide data in an open format and free of charge, that users would build things that we currently "can't even imagine." To test that proposition the World Bank is sponsoring an Apps for Development Competition where users will be invited to use World Bank data to build applications addressing at least one of the MDGs.
For users who want the underlying data used in the Mapping for Results project, each country has a page like this one for Kenya that allows you to download in csv format. Very cool and very useful. I do hope other donors and aid organizations follow the lead of the World Bank in making their data publicly available and in learning how to geo-code their project locations.