October 29, 2013Doug Hadden
Data-Driven Pivot for Development Effectiveness
Doug Hadden, VP Products
There is a persistent debate in the "development" community about whether aid works, whether it is counter-productive and whether some of it works. There is precious little data to support any of these positions. More specifically, there has been enough sparse data at different levels of aggregation to the point where correlation becomes dubious and causation is a forlorn hope. The deep geek recesses of the development community and academia have not been inactive in this "confirmation bias" world. They've been innovating rather than pontificating.
This is the age of big data. Of data driven decisions.
The work accomplished through the partnership that is "aiddata.org" is remarkable. I attended a 2010 conference showing preliminary results from researchers where it was clear that there wasn't enough information to answer critical questions. Data quality was also suspect. Data was too high level to make good conclusions. It was a tantalizing look at what could be.
That conference was preceded by an International Aid Transparency Imitative (IATI) "technical advisory group" meeting. I was not optimistic that donors were motivated to provide development information in a transparent, standard, machine-readable and timely manner.
Donors seem to be competing for transparency, which is a good thing. There is still a way to go. My view on what I saw today with the launch of Aid Data 3.0 is that development practitioners everyway can see the value of transparency and accessible tools.
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