Can Providing Local Data on Aid and Population Needs Improve Development Decision-Making?

Date Published

Apr 9, 2019


Ariel BenYishay, Brad Parks



BenYishay, A., & B. Parks. (2019). Can Providing Local Data on Aid and Population Needs Improve Development Decision-Making? A Review of Recent Experimental Evidence. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.


Over the past 10 years, geo-referenced data on aid activities has become more widely available. Coupled with improved information on local conditions, these data could uncover underserved areas and help citizens and other stakeholders hold public officials accountable for more effective aid targeting and delivery. We review thirty-one randomized control trials that provide location-specific data on aid, population needs, and performance to citizens and public officials. This body of experimental evidence suggests that the provision of location-specific data to public officials can improve resource allocation and service delivery outcomes, especially when the information that public officials receive is legible, actionable, and inclusive of both aid flows and population needs. It also suggests that citizens can put location-specific data to particularly effective use when they have access to accountability institutions that make it possible to transmit feedback to the politicians and public sector organizations charged with serving their communities.

Funding: This study was made possible because of a generous grant (#2017-5577) from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Additionally, we acknowledge that several of the experiments reviewed in this study were funded through a cooperative agreement (AID-OAA-A-12- 00096) between USAID’s Global Development Lab and AidData at the College of William & Mary under the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) Program.

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Featured Authors

Ariel BenYishay
Research & Evaluation

Ariel BenYishay

Chief Economist, Director of Research and Evaluation

Bradley C. Parks

Bradley C. Parks

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