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

May 2018

AidData wins $2.95 million to track HIV/AIDS in Côte d’Ivoire

The project is designed to enhance the use of health data by the government of Côte d’Ivoire, civil society organizations and local communities.

Testing for AIDS: A young woman is tested for HIV/AIDS. Photo by Martin Mugo Muiga/Horec Kenya, courtesy USAID Office of HIV/AIDS.
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.
September 2017

Building a geospatial revolution

Geocoding the globe! In our five years of partnership with USAID, we located over 130,000 development activities and $750 billion in assistance.

AidData's Pat Austria (College of William and Mary Class of '13) speaks at the U.S. Global Development Lab Launch April 3, 2014. Photo by David Trichler for AidData, all rights reserved.


AidData Working Paper

The Donor Footprint and Gender Gaps

Maria Perrotta Berlin, Evelina Bonnier, Anders Olofsgård


AidData Working Paper

Chinese Development Assistance and Household Welfare in Sub-Saharan Africa

Bruno Martorano, Laura Metzger, Marco Sanfilippo


Journal Article
World Development

Natural resource sector FDI, government policy, and economic growth: Quasi-experimental evidence from Liberia

Jonas B. Bunte, Harsh Desai, Kanio Gbala, Bradley C. Parks, Daniel Miller Runfola


Journal Article
Joint European Conference on Machine Learning and Knowledge Discovery in Databases

Quantifying Heterogeneous Causal Treatment Effects in World Bank Development Finance Projects

Jianing Zhao, Daniel M. Runfola, Peter Kemper


Journal Article
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management

Indigenous land rights and deforestation: Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon

Ariel BenYishay, Silke Heuser, Daniel Runfola, Rachel Trichler


AidData Working Paper

A Primer on Geospatial Impact Evaluation Methods, Tools, and Applications

Ariel BenYishay, Daniel Runfola, Rachel Trichler, Carrie Dolan, Seth Goodman, Bradley Parks, Jeffery Tanner, Silke Heuser, Geeta Batra, Anupam Anand


AidData Working Paper

Development Aid and Infant Mortality

Andreas Kotsadam, Gudrun Østby, Siri Aas Rustad, Andreas Forø Tollefsen, Henrik Urdal


Journal Article

A Top-Down Approach to Estimating Spatially Heterogeneous Impacts of Development Aid on Vegetative Carbon Sequestration

Daniel Runfola, Ariel BenYishay, Jeffery Tanner, Graeme Buchanan, Jyoteshwar Nagol, Matthias Leu, Seth Goodman, Rachel Trichler, Robert Marty


Journal Article
The Review of International Organizations

International organizations and development finance: Introduction to the special issue

Daniel L. Nielson, Bradley C. Parks, Michael J. Tierney


AidData Working Paper

Natural Resource Sector FDI and Growth in Post-Conflict Settings: Subnational Evidence from Liberia

Jonas B. Bunte, Harsh Desai, Kanio Gbala, Brad Parks, Daniel Miller Runfola


AidData Working Paper

Chinese Aid and Local Corruption

Ann-Sofie Isaksson, Andreas Kotsadam


AidData Working Paper

Forest Cover Impacts of Chinese Development Projects in Ecologically Sensitive Areas

Ariel BenYishay, Bradley Parks, Daniel Runfola, Rachel Trichler


AidData Working Paper

Indigenous Land Rights and Deforestation: Evidence from the Brazilian Amazon

Ariel BenYishay, Silke Heuser, Daniel Runfola, Rachel Trichler


AidData Working Paper

The Impacts of World Bank Development Projects on Sites of High Biodiversity Importance

Graeme M. Buchanan, Bradley C. Parks, Paul F. Donald, Brian F. O'Donnell, Daniel Runfola, John P. Swaddle, Lukasz Tracewski, Stuart H.M. Butchart


Journal Article
Migration and Development

Migration, climate, and international aid: examining evidence of satellite, aid, and micro-census data

Daniel Miller Runfola, Ashley Napier


Journal Article
The Journal of Human Resources

All-Cause Mortality Reductions from Measles Catchup Campaigns in Africa

Ariel BenYishay, Keith Kranker