AidData Research Projects

Collecting Non-Traditional Donor Aid Information Through Media Sources

mbdcDeveloping countries in the 21st century face a rapidly evolving global aid architecture. In particular, donors outside of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) -- e.g. China, Venezuela, Russia, and Iran -- have challenged conventional norms of development practice and increased competition in the "aid market". This phenomenon provokes new research questions and demands new types of data. How much funding do non-traditional donors provide, and to whom? Do "non-traditional" donors have a substantial influence on policy reform and democratic consolidation in developing countries? 

AidData is currently using a newly-developed media-based data collection methodology to collect, systematize and analyze open-source data on Chinese assistance to African countries from 2000-2011. Given that many "non-traditional" donors do not publish information on outward aid flows, this project seeks to (a) improve the state of knowledge on the determinants of Chinese aid allocation patterns in Africa, and (b) to establish "proof of concept" that a systematic media based data collection methodology is a viable way to gather project-level aid information from donors who are unwilling to disclose their data. (Photo by Eugene Hoshiko/ AP)

The initial dataset was released in April 2013 and is available at

Mapping Channels of Delivery

As part of the Malawi geocoding initiative, a team of researchers at Princeton University and the University of Texas (Simone Dietrich, Christian Peratsakis, and Catherine Weaver) are currently building a dataset that codes individual aid projects by aid delivery channel(s) and geographical coordinates in order to capture information on donor decisions about who delivers/implements bilaterally funded aid projects in different localities of Malawi. Possible channels of aid delivery include recipient governments, multilateral organizations, local and international NGOs, and private contracting firms. Such data provide more nuanced information about accountability relationships between donors, agents of aid delivery, and intended beneficiaries, once the aid reaches the recipient country. Mapping by aid delivery agents enhances not only the transparency of aid flows but enables researchers to better understand donor allocation decisions and their implications on aid effectiveness at the project level.

Aid and Persistent Institutional Development

Institutional DevelopmentVirtually no research addresses the conditions under which the outcomes of aid projects persist over time. Scholars, policymakers, and development practitioners also lack data on when the capacity building and institutional development objectives of aid projects persist over time. In order to address this challenge, AidData researchers Mark Buntaine and Brad Parks are collecting a large number of project evaluations produced by the World Bank's Independent Evaluation Group from 2003-2008 and extracting observable indicators of institutional development at project completion. Based on a worldwide sample frame of more than 10,000 development staff and government officials, Buntaine and Parks plan to survey individuals knowledgeable about the current state of these indicators 5-10 years after project completion. This process will yield the first data on whether institutional developments have been sustained beyond project completion. (Photo: Maurilio Cheli/ AP)

Is Aid Being Greened?

environmentHas development assistance been greened over the past 30-40 years? Researchers at William and Mary have created a novel coding system to identify the likely environmental impacts of different development projects. They used these data to describe and explain the allocation of both environmentally damaging and environmentally friendly foreign aid. Their research resulted in a book entitled Greening Aid: Understanding the Environmental Impact of Development Assistance (Oxford University Press, 2008). The original dataset covered the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Chris Marcoux, Mike Tierney, J. Timmons Roberts, Christian Peratsakis, and Brad Parks have recently updated this database through 2008. They are currently working on an project that calls attention to the in which these data can and should be used to advance existing frontiers of knowledge about environmental aid distribution and impact. (Photo by AP)

Explaining Success and Failure in World Bank Environment Projects

AidData researchers Mark Buntaine and Brad Parks have compiled World Bank evaluations and used the resulting dataset to test several hypotheses about the factors that promote successful environmental project outcomes. Buntaine and Parks found that the three most important factors predicting successful implementation are high quality project supervision, good governance in the borrowing country, and less focus on achieving global targets. They are currently developing a quantitative method to test and monitor the long-term institutional development of recipient government agencies following World Bank environment projects.

Measuring Aid's Impact with Remotely Sensed Data

For many types of aid projects, effectiveness should be associated with observable changes to land cover. To explore this possibility, we will use geocoded data on forestry activities in Malawi and Ecuador to test when reforestation and avoided deforestation result from aid projects. We will match areas that receive forestry aid with similar areas that do not receive forestry aid and then compare changes to forest density over time. By using remotely sensed landscape data, this research should allow us to measure aid effectiveness in the forestry sector better than has previously been possible. We anticipate expanding this type of analysis to other sectors, such as agriculture and dryland management.

Impact of Aid on Child Nutrition and Survival in Malawi

Professor Scott Ickes (Kinesiology and Health Sciences) and Brad Parks (Executive Director, AidData) have launched a  project -- with support from two W&M undergraduate research assistants -- to examine the medium-range impact of foreign aid allocation on child nutrition and survival. Aid allocation in the form of food subsidies, nutrition supplementation, and child survival programs intend to target high-need areas; however, the impact of such allocation on health outcomes following project funding cycles is rarely tracked. This study will examine the impact of aid flows into Malawi on regional malnutrition rates from 2000-2010 to examine whether developmental assistance is (a) targeted appropriately to high-need areas; and (b) whether this assistance has produced significant reductions in malnutrition and child mortality. This project will combine existing data collected by AidData with data from the Malawi Demographic and Health Surveys (2000, 2004, 2010). 

Past Research Projects

Scholars have used AidData to conduct research in a variety of fields, including aid allocation, aid effectiveness, public health, security and terrorism, democracy and governance, and environmental policy, and education. See a full list of published research using AidData.