'Ground-Truthing' Chinese Development Finance in Africa: Field Evidence from South Africa and Uganda
Aug 1, 2015
Edwin Muchapondwa, Daniel Nielson, Bradley Parks, Austin M. Strange, Michael J. Tierney
Muchapondwa, Edwin, Daniel Nielson, Bradley Parks, Austin M. Strange and Michael J. Tierney. 2015. 'Ground-Truthing' Chinese Development Finance in Africa: Field Evidence from South Africa and Uganda. AidData Working Paper #12. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.
Update: A revised version of this paper has been published in the Journal of Development Studies.
A new methodology, Tracking Underreported Financial Flows (TUFF), leverages open-source information on development finance by non-transparent, non-Western donors. If such open-source methods prove to be valid and reliable, they can enhance our understanding of the causes and consequences of development finance from non-transparent donors including, but not limited to, China. But open-source methods face charges of inaccuracy. In this study we create and field-test a replicable ‘ground-truthing’ methodology to verify, update, and improve open-source data with in-person interviews and site visits in Uganda and South Africa. Ground-truthing generally reveals close agreement between open-source data and answers to protocol questions from informants with official roles in the Chinese-funded projects. Our findings suggest that open-source data collection, while limited in knowable ways, can provide a stronger empirical foundation for research on development finance.