Recent Posts

September 2018

Chinese infrastructure investments reduce inequalities in developing countries

A new AidData working paper analyzes Chinese infrastructure's impacts using the most comprehensive dataset of Chinese development project locations ever assembled.

The India-Pakistan border in 2015, as viewed from the International Space Station. Photo by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center, in the public domain.
August 2018

A volley of words—and new data—on China’s diplomatic reach

A recent report by AidData informed and incited discussion of China’s growing public diplomacy activities in East Asia and Pacific.

Sports Ministers from South Korea, China and Japan meet in 2016 in Pyeongchang.
June 2018

Chinese public diplomacy in East Asia and the Pacific: Is it working?

A new report from AidData chronicles the nature and impact of China’s diplomatic programs.

Culture ministers representing China (left) and Korea (right) in discussion at the 8th Korea-China-Japan Culture Minister’s Meeting in 2016 in Korea. Photo by Jeon Han/Republic of Korea via Flickr, licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0).
April 2018

Russia’s foreign aid re-emerges

Little is known about Russia’s foreign aid. We examine the evidence to see what makes Moscow's spending different.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (center) and Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (left) at an informal meeting of the heads of the Commonwealth of Independent States in December 2017. Kyrgyzstan is the #1 recipient of Russian foreign aid. Photo by the Office of the President of Russia, licensed under (CC by 4.0).
March 2018

China’s financial statecraft: Winning Africa one Yuan at a time?

Teasing out the nexus of money and influence in China’s development activities in Africa with a recent global dataset and a forthcoming report on leaders’ perceptions.

China’s President Xi Jinping and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma and his wife converse at the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Sandton, Johannesburg. Photo by GCIS, licensed under (CC BY-ND 2.0).
February 2018

Rogue agent or team player? Beijing’s motivations for aid provision

A new study in ISQ pinpoints the factors that motivate Beijing to provide aid and other forms of government financing to Africa.

At a 2016 meeting of BRICS leaders, from left: President of Brazil Michel Temer, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, and President of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma. Photo by RIA Novosti.
January 2018

Six deep dives into China’s checkbook diplomacy

AidData’s release of the most comprehensive dataset yet on Beijing’s spending abroad prompted a flurry of media coverage and policy analysis. See our top five picks for articles and interviews that provide new insight.

Photo licensed through Shutterstock.
October 2017

AidData releases first-ever global dataset on China’s development spending spree

Five years in the making, AidData’s data collection effort has captured more than USD $350 billion in foreign aid and other forms of state financing that China committed to five major regions of the world.

Piles of 100 notes of Chinese Yuan — AidData releases first ever dataset on Chinese global development spending
July 2017

Papers selected for workshop on tracking international aid from emerging economies

Twelve teams of 27 authors will present their proposals at a workshop this September in Heidelberg, Germany.

New land emerges from the sea at the US$1.4 billion Chinese-backed Port City project near Sri Lanka’s main port, part of Beijing's ambitious global expansion of investment and aid.
May 2017

When does multilateral development finance provide better value-for-money?

AidData's Brad Parks, Mike Tierney, and Daniel Nielson highlight insights from their co-edited special issue of the Review of International Organizations.

Participants convene at the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings 2013. Photo by Dasan Bobo/World Bank, licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
April 2017

Fanning the sparks of corruption? A Chinese dragon haunts Tanzania

Chinese aid's lack of transparency leads to questions about whether it will contribute to or undermine other development efforts, particularly those of traditional donors like the World Bank.

A street market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, fills up early in the morning.
April 2017

Call for Proposals: Workshop on tracking international aid from emerging economies

Submit a one-page proposal to receive pre-publication access to unpublished datasets, including AidData's forthcoming China global dataset, and to present at Heidelberg University this September.

Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg, Germany, lights up on a warm summer night. Photo by Raul Lieberwith , licensed under (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
February 2017

What are development corridor strategies, and do they work?

Liberia made foreign direct investment (FDI) the centerpiece of its development strategy. We examine how these natural resource concessions affected local economic growth.

Sunrise in Beira, Mozambique in 2011. Photo by Andrew Moore, licensed under (CC BY-SA 2.0).
February 2017

Chinese-funded infrastructure in endangered forests: What is the data telling us?

The picture becomes clearer when breaking down the effects within each country.

The first Chinese-backed railway, Tazara Rail (pictured above), was funded in the 1970s. Now China has agreed to help Tanzania build a new 2,561km railway worth USD 7 billion that will run between the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam and the Great Lakes states of Rwanda and Burundi.
November 2016

Parceling out prosperity? Tracking and evaluating the impacts of natural resource concessions in Liberia

How concerned would you be if a third of your country's land was granted to foreign investors?

Martha Togdbba of Kpaytno, Liberia, grows vegetables, including tomatoes and chili peppers. Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl and Bread for the World, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
October 2015

Measuring the ‘health’ of AidData project records: Quality scores for development finance data based on open sources

In response to user requests for simple and intuitive summary metrics of data quality at the project-level, the AidData team has developed a scoring system that we call our “Health of Record” methodology.

October 2015

What’s new in AidData’s latest Chinese development finance dataset?

Last week, we released our 1.2 dataset and TUFF methodology updates. So, what are the five most important changes to come with these updates?

October 2015

Chinese “aid” to Africa: Be careful comparing apples and dragon fruits

Western pundits have a narrative about China’s activities in Africa. But is this narrative true?

July 2015

Changing tides: Tracking aid in the Caribbean

Over the past several decades, The Caribbean and its countries' needs and priorities have shifted. They have now expanded beyond their traditional relationships in the development world and started to form ties with non-traditional donors.

July 2015

If you don't ask, you don't get

Just asking directly is the best strategy for countries wanting to get better data and information about Chinese aid.

May 2015

Saudi aid to Yemen: Stability over development?

A lack of consistent aid reporting practices from donors like Saudi Arabia has limited the ability of international observers to monitor how much of this assistance Yemen has actually received or what was funded under blanket pledges.

January 2015

Looking Back Anew: AidData’s #ChinainAfrica November Launch Event

The dashboard launched at the event attempts to create a space for discussion about China’s role in Africa, opening up a broader conversation where anyone can provide comments and contribute multimedia content on the projects of interest to them.

November 2014

Democratizing Development: Mapping Chinese Investments in Africa

Launching today, AidData’s interactive geospatial dashboard features over 2000 Chinese-backed development projects in Africa, disaggregated to the provincial, municipal, or street-corner level.

October 2014

Measuring Development Finance from Arab Donors

Ignoring Arab countries’ unique understandings and modalities of aid means that we are ignorant about the reality of a significant proportion of modern development finance.

October 2014

Style or Substance?: The BRICS in the Post-Busan World

The arrival of the BRICS had clearly brought about a fresh start in how we perceive development finance.

August 2014

Energy investments in Africa by the US, Europe, and China

Despite heavy investment from the US, Europe, and China, the International Energy Agency estimates that additional investments of $20 billion yearly are required to meet SSA’s power needs by 2030.

July 2014

How TUFF Is It To Track Chinese Aid? Insights from Beijing’s Latest White Paper on Foreign Aid

China’s State Council published a white paper providing an overview of its funding for overseas development activities. We took this opportunity to test how well AidData has been able to capture Chinese funding with our Tracking Underreported Financial Flows (TUFF) methodology.

July 2014

China and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: Toward a Beijing Consensus?

The desire to create a new multilateral institution could indicate that China feels its influence in existing development banks does not reflect the strength of its economy or its contributions to those institutions.

June 2014

Chinese Development Finance and the African State: A Capacity-Legitimacy Trade-Off?

With support from IIE and USAID via its Democracy Fellows and Grants Program, we plan to systematically assess the effects of Chinese aid and investment on recipient states at both the national and sub-national levels.

June 2014

Seeing China in Africa Through the Lens of South Sudan

China’s evolving policy for engaging with South Sudan is an interesting case study for whether Beijing will be able to reconcile its disparate interests into one cohesive foreign policy.

June 2014

How ‘rogue’ is China’s aid?

There is seems to be some resource-seeking bias in Chinese outward foreign direct investment (OFDI), development assistance, and arms transfers. But this link is not terribly strong or inconsistent with patterns of the US or other major powers.

March 2014

The Stabilizing Influence of Chinese Development Finance in Conflict-Prone African Countries

The results of a study using AidData's TUFF methodology indicate that when “traditional” donors generate aid shocks to African countries, those countries having access to substantial Chinese development finance are significantly less likely to face conflict.

February 2014

The Sky’s the Limit: Using Satellite Imagery to Track Development Finance Projects in Africa

Skytruthing holds great promise as an innovative method to verify the status of development projects identified remotely using the TUFF methodology.

February 2014

UNU-WIDER Working Paper on Ground-truthing of Aid Projects Released

The findings from the UNU-WIDER report indicate that, among the projects researchers could visit, there was broad agreement between the project data generated from TUFF and the ground-truthing data.

January 2014

Tracking Chinese Development Finance to Africa Initiative: What To Expect in 2014

In partnership with Humanity United, we will launch several new features and functionalities to the site in the coming year in order to improve the usability and usefulness of the data.

January 2014

Official Press Release: New Chinese Development Finance Data to Catalyze Research and Feedback

The January 2014 release creates a more complete picture of Chinese development finance to African countries with additional project documentation and a refined open source approach to data creation and triangulation called Tracking Under-Reported Financial Flows (TUFF).

January 2014

Putting the Pieces Together: Building a Community of Practice to Track Under-Reported Financial Flows

Absent transparent accounting by emerging donors, alternative methods are needed to capture the scale, composition, and destination of their overseas development activities. Iterating better approaches will take equal parts innovation, experimentation, and collaboration.

January 2014

How Tough is AidData's TUFF Methodology? New Evidence from Uganda and South Africa

Initial field research results revealed general agreement between the data on development projects generated via TUFF and ground-truthing fieldwork.

January 2014

Pushing the Development Finance Envelope: AidData Improves Upon Its China Data

Employing these supplementary data collection methods, we were able to generate a more reliable picture of Chinese development finance in Africa by adding 114 new projects and updating 131 existing records in our database from 2000 to 2011.

September 2013

Does the Giver Matter? The Human Development Impact of Chinese Aid

Whereas OECD nations have scaled back their support for the so-called "productive sectors" in recent years, China has stepped up as a major financier of schools, hospitals, roads, ports, dams, and power lines.

July 2013

Peeking Behind the Curtain: Analyzing Chinese Aid and Influence in Zimbabwe

The Chinese government has financed a wide range of humanitarian assistance and economic development activities in Zimbabwe. The volume and details of these activities have until now proven opaque.

May 2013

What’s Your Source? Comparing Official and Media-Based Chinese Aid Data

Media-based methods often reveal major weaknesses in official reporting systems.

May 2013

A Rejoinder to Rubbery Numbers on Chinese Aid

In this post, we respond to Deborah Brautigam’s review of our Chinese development finance data collection project.

April 2013

How Do You Track Chinese Development Finance? You Have to Follow the Money!

If you want to know what the Chinese are funding in Africa -- or anywhere else for that matter -- you have to follow a project through its full life cycle.

April 2013

Announcing: Chinese development finance in Africa

A new report, China’s Development Finance to Africa: AMedia-Based Approach to Data Collection, describes the development and application of the methodology, which will be released in conjunction with the database.

January 2013

Tracking Venezuelan Development Finance and South-South Activities in the Caribbean

A project funded by the Roy R. Charles Center at the College of William and Mary program employed this media-based data collection (MBDC) methodology to produce a dataset that captures more than $7.6 billion (2009 USD) in Venezuelan development finance from 2000 to 2011.

October 2012

Aid Fishing in the Yemen: Tracking Saudi Development Assistance to Its Southern Neighbor

Using media-based methods, we attempted to generate the most detailed, project-level summary of Saudi aid to Yemen to date.

March 2012

How Important are Private and Non-DAC Sources of Global Development Finance?

The absence of country-level data on private investment, private philanthropy, and remittances almost certainly distorts the overall picture of global development finance flowing into a given country.

January 2012

Transparency in South-South Cooperation: Why Does it Matter?

Venezuela's South-South cooperation has helped it curry favor with governments in the region, but it has also made the Chávez administration the subject of intense criticism for its apparent lack of transparency.

December 2011

Assessing Donor Transparency Practices Outside of the DAC

Including non-DAC development finance agencies in future benchmarking exercises would be a great service to the aid transparency policy discussion, as manyare currently establishing new agencies and working out how information will be gathered and published for years to come.

November 2011

A fresh look at China as an aid donor

Evidence suggests that Chinese aid is not overwhelmingly influenced by the country's commercial or political interests.

September 2011

New Report on Chinese Aid Transparency Expresses Cautious Optimism

The report outlines how Chinese aid reporting differs from Western methods and assesses the prospects for improving the transparency of China's foreign assistance.

May 2011

China’s Foreign Aid White Paper: a Victory for the Aid Transparency Movement?

While the paper provides some aggregate funding statistics, but it does not provide the granular project-level detail necessary to monitor the nature of the country’s specific development assistance activities.

September 2010

India opens up its aid tap

While the Indian aid apparatus is still forming and no central agency has been established, we have been able to collect some very basic project level statistics from outcome budgets.

August 2010

A Slow Tsunami of Assistance?

While other donors invest a larger proportion of their aid into humanitarian assistance and rapid response activities, Arab donors have traditionally been more active in the reconstruction phase of emergency response.

July 2010

Brazil gives as much aid as Canada and Sweden? Maybe not...

Brazil isn’t acting like more traditional non-DAC donors that rely on large cash transfers and heavily structured infrastructure projects. Instead, it is leveraging its comparative advantages to provide assistance to other developing countries.

May 2010

What Can the U.S. Learn from China?

A little competition may go a long way towards crafting a U.S. aid strategy that is effective, sustainable, and even more appealing than a Chinese sack of cash.

April 2010

Arab Aid Isn't What It Used To Be...

As a proportion of either GNI or total government spending, Kuwait has reduced its aid spending.

Chinese aid to Africa looks a lot like Western aid to Africa, new research finds

In "Apples and Dragon Fruits," AidData researchers from the College of William & Mary, Heidelberg University, and Harvard University refute popular misconceptions and clarify common misunderstandings about what the Chinese are up to in Africa.

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