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AidData helps launch new platform to map aid results in Africa

  • Development Aid
    Development Aid
    AidData is a collaborative initiative headquartered at William & Mary that makes aid information more accessible and usable to a wide range of stakeholders and creates tools that enable users to more effectively target, coordinate, deliver, and evaluate aid.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), in partnership with AidData, launched MapAfrica at its annual meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, May 21. The interactive, online platform offers new ways for users to view development projects and improve the targeting, coordination and evaluation of aid.

“Today’s launch of MapAfrica, alongside other data portals on aid and development including AidData’s own aiddata.org, is expanding opportunities for a broader community of users to provide hyper-local feedback on development investments, learn more about what works and engage in informed dialogue about future development priorities,” an AidData press release said.

AidData, a research and innovation lab that seeks to improve development outcomes by making development finance data more accessible and actionable, is headquartered at William & Mary’s Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations. It is a joint venture between William & Mary, Development Gateway, Brigham Young University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Esri, a GIS technology company.

MapAfrica is designed to enable citizens, government officials and donors to view the geographic location of AfDB’s investments in development projects throughout Africa, the release said. With the new platform, citizens can drill down to a country, district or city level.

According to AidData Steering Committee Member and Development Gateway CEO Jean-Louis Sarbib, “Results and accountability matter whether in the Global North or the Global South. MapAfrica gives citizens and professionals the information they need in an intuitive format so they can participate in the development process and improve its effectiveness."

The May 21 announcement is a “next step” in AfDB’s and AidData’s ongoing  partnership. AidData is currently the largest public access database on project-level development in the world, it tracks more than $5.5 trillion in development aid and more than one million development projects across the globe. AfDB partnered early on with AidData to geocode AfDB’s portfolio of projects – applying precise location information to development activities.

The two groups are now building upon these geocoding efforts by matching investments with results data and beneficiary stories, allowing citizens and other users to more easily see not only what AfDB is doing and where, but also the impact of those activities. MapAfrica contains more than 6,000 geocoded project locations and users can filter those project locations by country, sector and year. Citizens, NGOs and policymakers can access hyper-local information about projects that are relevant to them and view results information.

Users will also be able to select one project and view all implementation locations, providing an accurate sense of the scope and breadth of the project. Data layers in the MapAfrica platform, such as GDP per capita and subnational poverty rates, can be layered to allow users to view indicators of interest alongside project implementation locations.

MapAfrica, paired with AfDB’s institutionalization of geocoding and commitment to transparency, holds tremendous promise in helping to repair the broken feedback loop between donors, governments and the citizens that projects intend to help,” the release said.

The MapAfrica platform was developed using Esri’s ArcGIS platform, specifically ArcGIS API for Javascript and ArcGIS for Server technology.

In the future, AfDB and AidData plan to pilot a citizen feedback component of MapAfrica. For more information and to view a video about the MapAfrica platform, visit aiddata.org/mapafrica.