AidData Summer Fellows: Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and Pacific

Hello all!

My name is Caroline Davis and in about a month and a half I will be departing to work as an AidData Summer Fellow in Quezon City – the most populous city in the Philippines, nestled in the dense urban jungle that is Metro Manila.  My fellowship is with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and Pacific (ANSA).  ANSA’s primary goal is to hold the government and development policy practitioners accountable to civil society and to encourage practitioners to act in society’s best interest.  Specifically, I am assigned to work with their Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) initiative.  CPA encourages citizens to audit the policy implementation process and aims to provide a mechanism for citizen feedback in development.  Due to the Philippines’ vulnerability to natural disasters, a good portion of government funding is designated towards disaster relief and prevention, and the allocation of these funds necessitates citizen auditing in order to maximize effectiveness.  This is where I come in – to support this auditing process for disaster-related funding by making available information to facilitate data-driven decisions.  Spatial data made available to citizens, such as risk and beneficiaries mapping as well as maps of government funded infrastructure, can enhance this process of auditing, monitoring and evaluation of government funded projects in the Philippines.

As of now, my role at ANSA revolves around three primary tasks that essentially incorporate spatial data into ANSA’s citizen auditing process.  First, I will review and assess information currently available to auditors and determine the scope of geocoding infrastructure projects, etc. that can feasibly be implemented within the next 6 months.  I will then work with the ANSA staff to develop an online platform for mapping where CSOs are working, disaster risk and vulnerability, where government funded infrastructure projects are located, and beneficiaries of these projects. The product will include a geocoded raw dataset, data layers for desktop GIS use (i.e. on ArcMap or QGIS) and the necessary services for use on ArcGIS Online.  Finally, in order to foster a sustainable project with a lasting impact, I will be training the ANSA staff in geocoding, GIS, and spatial data tools and thinking.

It is such a great opportunity to be a part of this process. I am so excited about what this summer will bring and cannot wait to share my work with you all!

Comments

  1. nagrawal01 says:

    This is really interesting research, Caroline, and it’s great that you’re getting so much experience in data analytics, especially since it is a growing field! I’ve had friends work at AidData, but I wanted to learn more. Is AidData’s primary mission to audit, monitor and evaluate internationally how funding is allocated and how the money circulates? I believe that AidData not only tracks funding from the government, but also donations that people make to any international organizations (to see if the money is actually being used for the cause or not), correct? Are these evaluations made per country and are they only made at the national level, or at the districts and local levels as well? What are some interesting/surprising things that you’ve learned? What’s been you’re favorite part of the trip?

    I think that the work you’re doing is so important. I feel like there is a lot of fraud and corruption when it comes to the allocation of money, especially when it comes to donating to a charity or funding public projects. It can be on the behalf of the government and higher-authority officials or even citizens, but it is difficult to determine where the money really ends up. I went to India this summer for my research project to work with the Mahadalit community, one of the most socioeconomically vulnerable groups of people in India. It was truly an eye-opening experience, but along the way, I learned that there are several government schemes for the Mahadalit. There is a lot of corruption when it comes to India’s government at all levels, so I am not really sure how well the benefits of these programs are getting to the community members. However, I saw a school being built in one of the villages I visited through funding from a general government scheme (not specifically for the Mahadalits, I believe), but I learned that it was not being built using the best material as instructed. Apparently some of the funding ended up in people’s pockets. Just something your research really made me think about!