Improving Aid Transparency Through Geocoding: AidData Maps Development Activities'

October 1, 2010Andrea Calabrese

Achieving global development objectives depends on involving stakeholders in aid-funded work, strengthening accountability of donor agencies and partner governments, and building country ownership. Yet sometimes even basic information such as the location of an aid project is difficult to find. Information on project locations is critical for determining whether aid is reaching areas of greatest need, as well as for avoiding duplication of effort within a country. Geocoding, or recording the location of aid projects at the sub-national level, enables visual tracking of where the money is flowing and what kind of aid each area is receiving.

AidData, in collaboration with Uppsala University, has developed a comprehensive way to geocode aid projects. AidData is a collaboration between Brigham Young University, the College of William and Mary, and Development Gateway. By defining multiple levels of geographical precision, AidData is able to accurately identify the locations of all types of development projects. Using our rigorous yet flexible methodology, teams of trained researchers work with donor and government agencies to determine the precise location of development activities. Mapping this information then enables a better understanding of the allocation of aid within a country, highlighting any potential financing gaps, displaying inequities of aid distribution, and ensuring that aid money flows to those who need it most. Recent work includes the Mapping for Results partnership with the World Bank Institute, where 1200 projects were geocoded using our methods. Maps of the results for about 70 countries are available at

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