Distribution of EU Aid in Mexico: A Preliminary Look

The Fellowship ended August 8th, with several maps half made and a report half-finished. We simply ran out of time as Fellows, although with the trainings that we conducted over the summer for both geocoding and geospatial analysis, ObservaCoop should be equipped to create basic maps for the report comparing the distribution of European Commission aid projects in Mexico with indicators such as poverty, violence, education, and more. Although I was not necessarily permitted to publish those maps, I did have access to the geocoded data and consequently constructed an elementary model of EU aid distribution at the state level using tools from my econometrics course that I took spring of this year.

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Over the Hill

July 24, 2014

At, last we’ve finished!

We’re about two weeks past our intended deadline, but we have finally finished geocoding and exported the raw data set from Toolkit. Ultimately we had documentation for 34 projects for a total of 855 project locations geocoded. Clay is currently going through the process of quality assurance to make sure that the geographic locations that we assigned to the project activities are updated and to make sure that the dataset does not suffer from any repetition. As soon as he finishes, we’ll be able to start making maps in ArcGIS and conduct statistical analyses for the final report. Certainly geocoding was the most arduous of this process – and it was complicated by the other tasks that we had to field for ObservaCoop.

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The End of the Road

What a close to my final week in Uganda! From Monday to Wednesday, I was traveling around the rapidly-expanding city of Hoima and Lake Albert, which are in the western part of Uganda, to attend a conference on monitoring environmental compliance in the oil and natural gas sectors. This conference brought representatives from dozens of several civil society organizations together with government and oil/natural gas sector officials in an attempt to ensure that all parties involved, most especially marginalized groups, benefit from the recent discovery of Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest untapped oil deposits. However, it often appeared that industry groups and the government sought to limit criticism of extractive activities and their negative impacts on Uganda’s citizens. In our guided tours, we saw much of this. Of the 3 sites that we visited, on buses paid for by Tullow Oil, 2 had been inactive for months and the only active site, Kingfisher Field, we viewed from a distance. This gave valuable insight into some of the issues that Transparency International staff face in promoting an open, productive dialogue between citizens, civil society organizations, government officials, and private industry.

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Semi-Independent Research Projects

Over the past week, Robert and I have moved away from lecture-based instruction or guided exercises and have started to assist workshop participants with semi-independent research projects. With each of the participants now able to use ArcGIS to create maps centered around pre-determined themes (usually foreign aid or violent conflict), we felt that allowing workshop participants to make maps that were of interest to them would help to bring the trainings full circle and ensure that they would be able to apply the skills they have been practicing. We also broke up the trainings and created a schedule so that we could meet with each of the participants one-on-one to develop their ideas and make sure that all workshop participants were comfortable working with the software independently.

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Into the Field

This past week, the pace of my work changed drastically as I left the Transparency International central office in Kampala for “the field.” To ensure that the GIS trainings would continue to run smoothly while I was away, a necessity given that the classes will begin their independent research projects next week, I spent last weekend crafting exercises and Robert taught this week’s classes. In these classes, data aggregation techniques were reinforced and students were taught how to use several external applications, such as Tabula, which pulls information from tables in PDF documents and places it into an Excel spreadsheet.

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