A Foray into GIS Instruction

After a week-long delay, caused by some difficulties coordinating with TI-U’s partner organizations, we are now nearing the completion of our second week of ArcGIS trainings. These trainings are divided into two sections, each of which meets twice a week for two hours, thus providing TI-U staff and its partners with a great deal of flexibility. This flexibility was a necessity given the hectic work schedules of training participants, many of whom divide their time between Kampala and frequent excursions into the field. As of right now, we are training nine individuals, four of whom are from TI-U, while the other five are divided between Citizen Watch-IT (election monitoring and social accountability) and Action for Development (women’s empowerment and advocacy).

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A Feel for Kampala

With two weeks in Kampala under my belt, I’ve begun to recover from my initial culture shock and acclimate to daily life in a developing metropolis. For this previously-uninitiated Westerner, that has required a great deal of compromise and a budding tolerance for boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis) on Kampala’s perpetually gridlocked, street sign-less roads. In this time, I’ve begun my work with Transparency International Uganda (TI-U), where I am working to visualize and interpret the spatial data in their “Action for Transparency” program, as well as assist my co-workers in gaining familiarity with geospatial data and tools to increase their internal technical capacity.

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Poco a poco

Today marks the beginning of my third week in Mexico. When I came here two weeks ago, my bank PIN was rebelling, I was haphazardly thinking in three languages (English, Spanish, and Chinese), and I had a touch of altitude sickness. Within 48 hours of starting the job, my colleagues, Emily and Clay, and I put together a three-part geocoding training session in Spanish and then delivered it throughout the course of the week. We then read evaluations and improved the training program for our next session, which will be held a few weeks from now.

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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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