Empowering Citizen Monitors in Uganda

Hey all!  My name is Justin DeShazor and this summer I’ll be working with Transparency International – Uganda as part of a joint partnership with the AidData Center for Development Policy, where I currently supervise a team of undergraduates who track and geocode development projects according to their purpose and geographic location.  I’ve been with AidData for almost two years, helping them produce an extensive database which provides this project-level geospatial information in a publicly-available format.  During this time, I also spent a semester with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington D.C. utilizing AidData’s research products to inform the committee on foreign aid distributions in priority countries.  These experiences, which complement my double major in government and economics, have helped me to gain an immense appreciation for both the scale of the challenges in international development and the potential for policymakers and implementing partners to bring about meaningful progress when armed with accurate and accessible information.  Because Transparency International – Uganda has striven for over a decade to support such transparency and accountability, I am so excited to travel to Kampala (in my first trip outside of the United States) and participate in their work.

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Ground-Truthing Aid in Uganda

Hi, my name is Rebecca Schectman and I will be spending the summer in Kampala working as an AidData Summer Fellow with UNICEF Uganda. I’m currently a sophomore at William and Mary and am studying International Relations. I also work as a Research Assistant with AidData, a research and innovation lab that seeks to make development finance more accessible and actionable. My job primarily involves geocoding aid projects, or assigning locations to project activities financed by USAID, the World Bank, and other development organizations. The idea behind geocoding is that better visualizations will improve development outcomes by improving aid distribution, informing policy, and maximizing impact. This summer, AidData is sending students abroad to work with organizations in the field that share similar goals.

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Peter Colwell at AidData Nepal

IMG_6381Namaste, readers.
It will be my pleasure to act as your window onto Kathmandu University (KU), AidData, and the partnership between the two. This summer I will be filling the shoes Sarah Rock and Carleigh Snead left in Nepal in 2013. For a good read, I encourage you all to check out their blog posts elsewhere on this site. Since the summer, KU and AidData have worked together on several collaborative initiatives, including a joint presentation at the Transparency International-Nepal International Conference in December 2013 and co-hosting an open data working group in February 2014. I hope to maintain and improve this excellent relationship in the coming months.

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Senegal Bound

I can’t believe that this is all finally beginning!  For the past six months I’ve been working on a completely different research project and now that it’s finished, I can begin to focus on this amazing journey towards the completion of my honors thesis.  My project is somewhat of a combination of my interests in both of my majors – International Relations and French, with a little Econ mixed in for good measure.  I will be focusing on France’s unique and ongoing relationship with Senegal, both as a colony and an independent nation.  Whenever we think about “imperialism” we tend to consider it to be a phenomenon of the past.  However, I believe that the strategic dispersal of development aid is just another tool France uses to maintain a sphere of influence– a “new imperialism.”  I chose to use Senegal as a case study through which to evaluate the impact of France on its former colonies because Senegal has always maintained a close and rather special relationship with its mother country.  I am beyond excited to travel to the African continent for the first time in order to get an idea of how French development aid functions on the ground and its effect on the Senegalese.