April 2, 2013Doug Hadden
Is foreign aid effective? Is money better spent domestically?
There is probably no public debate so much dependent on bad information and confirmation bias than foreign aid. Polls consistently show that public perception of aid spending is orders of magnitude larger than it is. And, press reporting about aid focuses far more on the bad news than the good. As the video from Save the Children UK shows.
This video from Development Initiatives shows the need for transparent information to advance development and improve governance.
That’s not to say that foreign aid can’t be improved. And, there has been significant work to find evidence of what works and what doesn’t. And, for transparency thanks to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). We are on the cusp of leveraging “big data” analytics to improve aid effectiveness and development. It’s time for the aid debate to move from “narrative” to “visualization”. To leverage data for insight. To test our preconceptions.
What about the other 99.3% to 99.9% of government spending?
The rest of government can take a page from the aid community to leverage open data to improve performance. Let’s compare spending effectiveness on aid versus other government programs.
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