New portal seeks to liberate aid data

UPDATE 3/26/10 11:50 EDT: Some readers have asked for more specific information on how AidData differs from the OECD project-level database. See the comments section for detailed answers from the AidData team. AidData, a new development finance data portal, was launched on Tuesday along with a companion blog called The First Tranche. From their inaugural post:

AidData 1.0…assembles more aid projects from more donors totaling more dollars than have ever been available from a single source before. AidData catalogues nearly one million projects that were financed between 1945 and 2009, adding or augmenting data on $1.9 trillion of development finance records. We currently have data from 87 different donors, and data from even more donors will come online every few months.

According to a report from the AidData conference in Oxford today, the new portal adds both breadth (more donors) and depth (greater detail at the project level) to the current aid data resources like OECD-CRS. The AidData portal contains some project-level data on where aid money flows from lesser-known donors like Saudia Arabia (Togo? Gambia?), South Africa (what’s going on with Guinea?), Kuwait, Poland, and Chile.

Presenters at the conference in Oxford this week based their work on the newly-available data from the AidData portal. They used the data to propose answers to questions like— - Does foreign aid bring about regime change? - Are “oil” donors like Saudi and Kuwait becoming more or less generous with rising income? - Will China remain a “rogue donor” or is it moving towards greater integration with traditional donors? Some exploratory tinkering with the site reveals that the AidData team—made up of scholars, researchers and practitioners from William and Mary, Brigham Young University, and Development Gateway—has created a relatively user-friendly interface on their site. The group’s geeky motto gets a second from Aid Watch: "Liberate the Data!"

-- Rescheduled NYU event for readers in New York: Professor Brautigam, American University professor and author of the new book The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, is giving a lunchtime seminar at NYU today. (The event was rescheduled because of a snowstorm in February.) Read our previous blog post on the book, or click here for more information about the event.