What do you want to know about development data? What tools would be useful to make this information accessible and interesting? Don’t be shy – we want to generate lots of questions, data, code and feedback. Have a look at some of the questions below for ideas, and then post your own.

For example:

  • What are the biggest sectors donors are funding? In which countries?
  • How much aid was spent on education in Bangladesh last year?
  • Which donors are currently funding projects in water and sanitation in Nepal?
  • To what extent do donors’ priorities align with partner country priorities?
  • How can data be used to improve communication between donors and the intended beneficiaries of aid?
  • How much is being spent in Sierra Leone on road building? How much of that is aid money?
  • What projects are being delivered in Central province in Malawi?
  • What proportion of births in Tanzania in 2011 had a trained birth attendant present?
  • What proportion of projects are successful? (Take an individual country or theme.)

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42 Responses to Questions

  1. What is the average wage of consultants working on official aid projects? What is the range of salaries earned by aid workers? What is the wage gap between local and expatriate aid workers?

  2. What percentage of funding has been made available for climate change adaptation (i.e through the green climate fund etc) in relation to the amount of money made available to prevent the collapse of the Euro ?

  3. How to make open data for health services available in a way that is safe for the community and helps engage Millennium Development Goals.

    MDG 3 on empowering women
    MDG 4 on reducing child mortality
    MDG 5 on improving maternal health
    MDG 6 combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

  4. I have 2 questions: how many times do organizations like DFID and The Guardian promote junk science and junk journalism by relying on non-statistically significant visualizations, which have absolutely no meaning or relevance to answering any question?

    Also why are scientists who actually have the tools to answer these questions routinely censored when their conclusions run contrary to “data journalism” (aka. junk journalism), and why do journalists and bloggers interpreting statistical data when they don’t know how to account for things like confidence intervals, construct validity, and other important observations which are the basis of Western reasoning and rationalism?

    Looking forward to a fancy graph that will “answer” these questions!

    Just putting your organization on notice. A lot of us scientists are getting tired of this type of data-nonsense.

    Cheers from many Oxbridge researchers.

    • Thanks for your comments, John. This is obviously not within the scope of the Development Data Challenge, but there is certainly a lively debate elsewhere discussing the relative value of open data and statistics. We agree that data needs to be handled carefully and presented in a useful and accurate way which does not mislead the reader. While I cannot speak on behalf of other organisations, Publish What You Fund strongly believes that the ability to access and use timely, comprehensive and comparable data is vital for the purposes of improving development effectiveness.

      If you have a question relating to development data that you would like us to consider at the hack day then please feel free to post it here.

  5. What is the trend over the last 10 years of funding for primary education in African countries and which are the top 10 funding countries in the same period?

  6. How much money did the Spanish government promise to sent to Haiti after the earthquake, and how much did the actually sent in the end?

    • Hi Ines
      I know this is a bit out-of-date, but I looked at these figures in January. You can take a look + download the data here:

  7. I’m interested in how the pie is divided. How much of the British aid budget goes to private sector intermediaries – and what proportion is that of the overall spend? Could you share with us a breakdown of the top 10 private sector recipients of DFID spending with the % each of them receive? How much is channelled through international finance institutions, particularly the World Bank/IBRD. And how much and what % of the aid budget goes to the corporate INGO sector? Again, a breakdown of the % received by organisations like CARE, Oxfam etc. would be useful. Could you use the data available to produce a pie chart (or one of those Guardian bubble charts) that shows the share of the aid budget spent per kind of development actor, and then another one that disaggregates this per type of actor and shows the top 10 or 20 recipients by name? The spreadsheet published by DFID would seem to offer the possibility of collating this kind of information. It would be very useful for those of us who teach courses at Universities on development. Does the same information exist for the US? If so, a comparison would be interesting.

  8. What % of the 40 million tons of solid waste produced annually by urban India is a product of the informal economy?

    25% of solid waste in New Delhi, India is collected by the Government – where is the remaining 75% located?

  9. From a funder’s perspective, we like to know how to target our funding most effectively. With that in mind, how has aid to Arab Spring countries changed – if at all – in the run up to, during and after the popular uprisings there? And how does aid going to democracy, good governance and human rights issues in those countries compare with other countries in the region not directly affected by the events of the last 18-24 months?

    Secondly, how does aid spending compare between the Francophone and Anglophone countries of Africa? And which sectors/countries are most affected?

  10. We urgently need data to hold donors and INGOs accountable for their commitments. I need to be able to see 1) what a particular donor is funding in Palestine, 2) where the overlap or gaps are among donors in terms of what they’re funding in Palestine, 3) how they categorize their aid (development or humanitarian), 4) what INGOs are working with what donors, etc. MOST importantly, I need to know how much of the funds allocated to Palestine are leaving the country for international consultancies and for procurement in the donor country. I also need to see the admin costs of each project in the home country and the target country, including salaries. These funds are supposed to be for Palestine, but we know they benefit the internationals as much or more, but we don’t have the data to investigate this so we can initiate dialogue. Thanks! -Nora Lester Murad, PhD

  11. How are your projects serving or reaching those who are disabled? How do the disabled (either physically or sensorily disabled) learn about the programs, access the programs that are offered in the mainstream? If your project provides education have measures been brought in to ensure disabled children can also be educated? If your project provides clean water, have you made sure the disabled can also access this safe water (example: are the pumps at a height for those in wheelchairs, or can a blind woman figure out how to use it?) If your project builds schools or community centres, have these been designed with access in mind?
    In capturing development data, will data on the number of disbled served be measured? Are these figures captured in the surveys done ahead of the implementation of any project?

  12. What percentage of African farmers are women?

    What percentage of low and middle income poverty is in urban areas?

    What percentage of ODA to agriculture and social protection is nutrition sensitive (i.e. explicitly intended to have a nutrition impact)?

  13. Can you link any aid spending data to end results or at least the achievement of stated project aims? This opens up lots of questions e.g. Which aid modalities are most effective for delivering services, is it the same modalities for infrastructure projects? Are some donors more efficient at turning spending into results than others? Does the data suggest that project outcomes are more or less likely to be achieved when funds flow via government systems? Uner what conditions?

  14. How much aid is being given to developing countries in order to improve technological and informational capacity, such as say, facilitating access to the internet and other means of communication that disseminate valuable information?

  15. What proportion of ODA is ultimately passed on to Southern-based grassroots NGOs / CSOs to spend on services in their own locality? Do urban NGOs / CSOs receive more or less than rural ones? How many links are there in delivery chains between bi- and multi-lateral donor agencies and Southern-based grassroots NGOs / CSOs?

  16. Which specific institutions receive aid money earmarked for improving governance? For example, how much is given, by whom and in what form, to parliaments, anti-corruption bureaux, political parties or election commissions? Which countries receive the highest amounts for this?

  17. Should development data be made more transparent and accessible to encourage future donations and support for projects?

  18. More and more numerical data on ODA flows and allocation becomes available these days, but we still lack more and better qualitative , process- and policy- related information. Interesting to know here for example:

    - What conditions donors attach to ODA?
    - How decisions on aid allocation were made, on what basis, and who was involved in the decision-making process.

    The latter is interesting because the data on ODA flows tells us where ODA is spent, but we still don’t know why, what is actually the more interesting question.

    Moreover, since we all have to talk about results these days, it would also be interesting to have better data to assess the impact of ODA on economic development and income poverty alleviation, for example:

    - How much aid actually enters the local economy of recipient countries?
    - Which share of aid-funded contracts goes to domestic, which share to foreign enterprises?
    - How many local jobs were created?
    - How much additional income was generated?

  19. What proportion of undernutrition can be attributed to faecally-transmitted infections (FTIs)?

    If all FTIs were eliminated, what food grain equivalents in tonnes would then be absorbed instead of lost?

    In India, how many children would cross the threshold and cease to be undernourished?

  20. Can we start to match the project spending on topic X in country Y against the reported results on those topics and country. The SBTF ( has collated a *lot* of indicator data on South Sudan – is there spending data that we can correlate against that?

  21. In a similar way to development and aid projects having to record impact on people by gender, is it possible to do the same for age?

  22. There are still too many discrepancies between HQ and country level data.
    There should be more clarity on reporting requirements at HQ/country level on ODA and other financial flows. Shouldn’t there be a translation of the concept of Country Programmable Aid into a practical reporting arrangement under IATI, so that HQ and country data can be more easily matched? Shoudn’t the scope of the existing standards for reporting on aid, be extended to cover debt, commercial loans and other government to government transactions? When do SSC providers will start reporting in a standardized way on their various cooperation modalities with developing countries?

  23. Here are a few challenge questions/ideas for consideration:

    Can multiple streams of development data (any and all relevant data) be analyzed in real-time to predict future development problem areas/regions? A combination of historical data analysis, collection of real-time status information, and generation of discussion- all leading to a map or dashboard views indicating hot spots.

    Data Journalism:
    Can a tool be created to connect Data Geeks & Journalists? (Banjo like app for data geeks and journalists) Find a data geek near you.

    There are a number of contracts/procurement datasets that have been released by governments, international institutions, etc How many of these can be combined/linked to represent a global view of development funding? Can these be tied/matched to local tender notices and national contract awards?

    This one is sort of a fun idea that I’ve been toying with:
    DevPic- simple web tool that allows people to submit geo-tagged photos of “development” (GPS enabled smartphone pics should have this information included in the EXIF data) that are then automatically plotted on a map of the world. Is it possible to map/tag photos of development projects in every country in the world? Can it be used to generate discussion/feedback directly from local communities or through intermediaries? Think wikimapia but for development

    Happy to provide insight into any World Bank Finances datasets that might be relevant to any of the DDC2012 challenges.

    If there is financial data from the World Bank that would help for any challenge, please also feel free to submit a data request as well:

    “See” you all very soon!

  24. Many donors’ aid projects have been mapped in Malawi ( Can financial data also be linked to these projects? How much money is going into these regions/sectors would be an interesting and useful answer to work towards.

  25. Sorry here are a few more European ones from my perspective that I forgot to add!
    - Is anyone interested in developing an App for monitoring current spending across the EC and EU Member States by sector and by recipient country?
    - How much of EU funding (EC + EU Member States) is budget support?
    - What proportion of EU funding is spent via DFIs such as the WB, EBRD and EIB?
    - How can data collection be used to ensure that humanitarian aid is more responsive to the needs on the ground – for example via ECHO’s EDRIS system and UNOCHA’s FTS?

  26. Does the quality of life increase or decrease for the poorest people in aid recipient countries? (For example if the development results in rural smallholders moving to urban slums, this may not be clear. NB the question is about the poorest, not average inhabitants.)

  27. Which international donors offer bilateral aid for health?
    which Africa countries have a budget for non infectious diseases?
    Does any African country have a budget for eye care? needless blindness?
    Which donors are investing in sustainable business models?

  28. Follow the money: To enable effective accountability, we need to be able to track the flow of aid at every step of the process, from the time it is released by the donor, through every organisation involved and in all geographical locations, until it reaches the ground.
    The IATI standard provides the structure to enable this, and we are now starting to get IATI-compliant data from organisations working at different point on the delivery chain. Can we build tools that enable traceability of aid?

  29. How can you compare the cost effectivess of development projects which focus on communications and knowledge sharing to those which are more traditional interventions on the ground? And how do you measure the impact of the former?

  30. 1. What proportion of DFID’s spending goes on evaluating projects? (disaggregate by country and sector)
    2. What percentage of recipients of UK ODA are given a formal opportunity to provide feedback on the development assistance they receive? And of those, what percentage of recipients/beneficiaries actually do provide feedback? (disaggregate by country and sector)
    3. For each year from 2008 – 2015 what proportion of DFID’s ODA went to each sector? And for each year and each sector what % of spending on projects:
    a. Uses country systems?
    b. Goes through government sector?
    c. Coordinates with other donors?
    d. Engages with national leaders?
    4. What proportion of projects are closed/ ended prematurely due to their failure to deliver or meet targets? (disaggregate by country and sector)
    5. What proportion of the UK’s ODA is spend on technical assistance? (disaggregate by the department through which ODA is channelled eg. DFID or FCO then by country and sector)
    6. What proportion of DFID projects procure locally? (disaggregate by country and sector)
    7. How much of DFID’s ODA is targeted at the extreme poor, the poor and other? (disaggregate by country and sector)

  31. How much health funding did bilateral and multilateral donors give in 2011 and 2012? We would like to analyze the data using Stata software (data in csv format would be ideal).

  32. These might be hard to get hold of, but here goes:
    In Brazil, there is a conditional cash transfer programme called the Bolsa Familia. Each year, how many families LEAVE the Bolsa Familia – ie, how many families move from being served by the programme, to not being served by the programme?

    How many of these families shift to other state-funded cash transfer programmes?

    Are there any comparisons between the incomes of families when they enter the Bolsa Familia, and when they leave it?

  33. A bit late here, but some of the previous questions reflect the need to compare the budget of the country and the aid delivered in specific areas. In this way we know if spending priorities of the country A are aligned with aid provided to country A. Also it would be nice to see how much aid money represents over the total spending in a particular area (e.g. Health).

  34. Can I get an internal financial report (for any time period) of any USAID project in Palestine? Is there any place where this information is available to me given US transparency commitments? I need an internal report to see how salaries are broken down, where materials were procured, etc. How can I get this information?