Geocoding involves identifying the precise location of an aid activity and tagging it with geographic information so that it can be mapped. Geocoded aid information allows for quick and easy spatial analysis of aid information.
Development Gateway provides geocoding services as well as mapping and visualization tools. Geocoding follows the UCDP/AidData methodology, which was developed jointly by AidData and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program of Uppsala University in Sweden. The methodology is available at open.aiddata.org, and is referenced by the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) data reporting standard.
Using the UCDP/AidData geocoding methodology, trained researchers tag development project records with precise geographic locations. With these data, organizations can create interactive mapping platforms that enable users to explore aid project locations and related information. Geocoding services help governments and their donor partners see the big picture of development assistance: who is doing what, where, and how. This makes it easier for project managers to monitor aid financing, find opportunities for collaboration with other donors, and engage in informed dialogue with citizens interested in the impact of aid delivery.
The UCDP/AidData geocoding methodology accounts for the fact that most aid projects are implemented over multiple geographic locations of varying size. A telecommunications project, for example, may fund the construction of long-distance telephone systems in several cities across multiple administrative divisions (i.e. region or principality). Coding experts scan relevant project documents (e.g. project appraisal documents) to identify cities or administrative regions impacted by the project, and use free gazetteers like Geonames.org and Google Earth to obtain geographic coordinates for the locations identified. By defining multiple levels of geographic precision, the methodology accounts for aid projects of all shapes and sizes.
The power of geocoding has recently been showcased by the World Bank, which created the Mapping for Results program in partnership with AidData. Through Mapping for Results, AidData researchers identified the locations of all current World Bank activities (over 2,700 active Bank projects in 81 countries) and plotted them against indicators of need, such as levels of malnutrition. Using the data, the World Bank created maps that empower Bank staff and government counterparts, as well as the public at large, to quickly view where aid is going and where more interventions might be needed.
Now, Development Gateway and its AidData partners are working with other donors to geocode different kinds of aid projects. In the summer of 2011, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and AidData released a geocoded data set of AfDB projects representing more than $10 billion in funding to 43 African countries. Currently, AidData is working with the Government of Malawi to geocode all activities by all donors captured in Malawi’s Aid Management Platform, enabling a clear view of aid allocation across the entire country.