Programs

We believe that the global community needs a stronger evidence base to find the signal in the noise as they target sustainable development investments, coordinate efforts, and monitor progress toward development targets.

To that end, we are focusing our research agenda to catalyze innovation in data, methods, and tools in five program areas that inform and empower development organizations, decision-makers, and stakeholders.

Chinese Development Finance

Since the beginning of the 21st century, China has dramatically expanded its overseas development finance program and established itself as a financier of first resort for many low- and middle-income countries. But Chinese donors and lenders rarely disclose the specific terms and conditions or implementation arrangements that govern their overseas development projects. AidData seeks to address this problem by systematically tracking the universe of Chinese government-financed development projects and rigorously categorizing them according to established international aid reporting standards, using our Tracking Underreported Financial Flows (TUFF) methodology. Our latest report, Banking on the Belt and Road, introduces a uniquely comprehensive and granular dataset of international development finance from China that captures 13,427 projects worth $843 billion across 165 countries in every major world region over an 18-year period.

For more information, contact:
Ammar A. Malik
Senior Research Scientist

GeoQuery

GeoQuery breaks down technological barriers and empowers a broad range of data users with next-generation geospatial data, methods and tools. A free spatial data platform, GeoQuery enables individuals of all skill levels to freely find, access, and merge together spatial data from a wide variety of sources into a single, simple-to-use file. Since 2017, GeoQuery has processed more than 10,000 data requests. AidData has partnered with the McGovern Foundation to take GeoQuery to scale and reach a range of new actors, from large international organizations to small grassroots nonprofits. The GeoQuery team is also working to create new datasets with information on development outcomes captured frequently and at high levels of spatial detail and innovate new geo-statistical analyses and machine learning-based methods.

For more information, contact:
Research & Evaluation
Seth Goodman
Research Scientist

Geospatial Impact Evaluations

More rigorous than simple performance evaluations but often significantly cheaper and faster than randomized controlled trials, geospatial impact evaluations (GIEs) are helping to fill the "missing middle” in evaluations of development programs. AidData is a widely recognized industry leader in the creation and application of GIE methods and tools. With our partners, we’ve led a global effort to use location-based data on development interventions and their outcomes in combination with quasi-experimental methods to measure the intended and unintended impacts of development programs in different locations and under different conditions. We’ve conducted GIEs to generate estimates of the net, attributable impact and cost-effectiveness of programs across sectors including public health, infrastructure, agriculture, and the environment.

For more information, contact:
Research & Evaluation
Ariel BenYishay
Chief Economist, Director of Research and Evaluation

Listening to Leaders

The Listening to Leaders program collects holistic feedback on development from the perspectives of an under-represented group: leaders in low- and middle-income countries. We research how development priorities converge or diverge between leaders, citizens, and donors; barriers and opportunities to advancing reforms; the performance of donors; and what leaders need for evidence-informed policymaking. Listening to Leaders produces a wide range of custom analyses, profiles, and datasets for public use and the internal needs of funding partners. In addition to these large-n surveys, we also field short surveys, or snap polls, to targeted individuals to gain a deeper understanding of a specific topic, like education. 

For more information, contact:
Policy Analysis
Samantha Custer
Director of Policy Analysis

Transparent Development Footprints

The global landscape of public diplomacy is shifting. As China's engagement with the world has changed, so too has AidData's research. We have broken new ground to quantifiably measure a much broader range of China's soft power activities than had been previously attempted before, pioneering open source methods that make it possible to shed light on Beijing's public diplomacy and influence with foreign leaders and publics. The TDF program conducts large-scale original primary data collection, policy analysis, and scholarly research, and has published the first analyses to quantify China’s public diplomacy activities across East Asia and the Pacific (Ties That Bind) and South and Central Asia (Silk Road Diplomacy; Corridors of Power).

For more information, contact:
Policy Analysis
Samantha Custer
Director of Policy Analysis