China and other so-called “emerging” donors and creditors are fundamentally changing the international development finance landscape; however, many of these actors do not participate in existing global reporting systems, such as the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS) and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).
To address this challenge and help those who seek to understand the nature, distribution, and effects of development finance from emerging donors and creditors, AidData developed the Tracking Underreported Financial Flows (TUFF) in collaboration with an international network of researchers from Harvard University, Heidelberg University, the University of Göttingen, the University of Cape Town, Brigham Young University, and William and Mary.
The methodology codifies a systematic, transparent, and replicable set of procedures that facilitate the collection of information about aid and credit from official sector donors and lenders who do not publish comprehensive or detailed information about their overseas activities. It does so by synthesizing and standardizing vast amounts of unstructured, open-source, project-level information published by governments, intergovernmental organizations, companies, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, and research institutions.
The methodology was first introduced in April 2013 as a way of tracking Chinese government-financed development projects in Africa (Strange et al. 2013). It was then revised and extended to track Chinese government-financed development projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, Oceania, and Eastern and Central Europe in September 2015, January 2017, and October 2017 (Muchapondwa et al. 2016; BenYishay et al. 2016; Strange et al. 2017; Bluhm et al. 2018; Dreher et al. 2018, 2019, 2021, forthcoming). These revisions are chronicled in a new book entitled Banking on Beijing: The Aims and Impacts of China’s Overseas Development Program (Dreher et al. forthcoming). Since then, the TUFF methodology has been re-engineered to support the creation of AidData’s Chinese Global Development Finance Dataset, Version 2.0, which was published in September 2021.