This summer, five other LBJ interns and I will be working at Development Gateway (DG) in Washington, DC. This work is under a partnership between the Strauss Center at UT and AidData, and involves geo-coding into one database African development projects from various international donors. The work during this leg will involve coding for projects in Malawi.
Aid has traditionally been given out piecemeal, with each donor funding separate projects where and how they see fit. Now, this partnership is mapping out that aid, locating each project by its geographic coordinates. By geo-referencing each development project and putting the results together in a single source, this work will promote coordination, cooperation, and just simple information sharing between donors. But more than that, it could allow aid to be targeted at the places that need it the most – whether the poorest or the most vulnerable to climate change. I certainly hope that it will lead to more targeted aid giving, as well as more effective aid spending.
I’m particularly interested in the large energy and water infrastructure projects that have been put into place in Malawi and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the course of the summer, I hope to learn more about how these types of projects can bring even larger-scale change for some of the people that need it most.
As for Washington – I’ve never been to the capitol before now, but from my few days here it looks like there won’t be much problem filling any spare time. In fact, it seems that DC is as full of sights to see as it is of Starbucks – apparently no small feat!