The goal of this research is to examine the role citizens play or could play in measuring the effectiveness of international aid projects for which they are the intended beneficiaries and the role of geographic mapping in evaluating international aid policies, programs, and projects. Recent international agreements on principles for measuring the effectiveness of aid to developing countries have exposed knowledge gaps in the scholarship on development aid. These include a deficit in our understanding of the contributions of citizens of developing countries toward measuring the effectiveness of aid as well as a lack of evidence about the potential contribution of geographic mapping to improving the measurement of aid outcomes. Ongoing Kenyan government project monitoring systems as they are applied to international aid projects in the educational sector will be compared with citizen led efforts to monitor and map the results of these projects. In particular, the research will focus on the evaluation of free education programs in Kenya for which the government tracks indicators such as the number of new enrollments in community schools. The research will examine the efforts of citizens through a project called Uwezo (Kiswahili for capacity) who are mapping communities across Kenya to determine where the most vulnerable children reside. This study will examine both government monitoring activities and citizen projects like Uwezo. Qualitative interviews and focus group interviews will capture the experiences of stakeholders and beneficiaries of government and citizen led monitoring activities. Qualitative analysis software will assist in analyzing the content of these interviews. Statistical methods will be used to analyze data from both government and citizen led monitoring activities. The results of traditional project monitoring methods will be compared with citizen led mapping exercises.

This study will enhance scientific understanding about the utility of citizen knowledge and mapping for evaluating development projects. The findings from this study of citizen volunteered geographic information will add knowledge about human and scientific resources available to better evaluate investments in international development aid. This study in Kenya might have direct application for foreign aid policies and international development scholarship and practice beyond aid investments in Kenya alone. Because this project is a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement award, this award will also provide support for building a strong independent research career centered on important scientific and public policy concerns.

Project Report

Outcomes of this grant advanced discovery and understanding while promoting, training and learning in several ways. Initial research findings were disseminated through meetings with the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Nairobi, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in the Kenyan education sector, and government officials who are implementing primary and secondary education reform in Kenya. Outcomes of this grant also broadened the participation of underrepresented groups by hiring and mentoring research assistants in underrepresented communities. A young aspiring social scientist in Nyamira County Kenya was trained on interviewing techniques and applied his training with work on this grant. This individual was also brought to Nairobi to learn how to use Computer Assisted Qualitative Analysis Software and applied his training on the software. A young woman from Kenya’s marginalized Somali community was trained on focus group techniques and applied her training by assisting with focus groups during field research. A young man living in Nairobi, Kenya’s urban slums was trained in how to use a handheld Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) and applied his training by utilizing the technology in field work. Finally, initial findings of this research were provided to the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Nairobi. Final research products such as a completed doctoral dissertation and papers resulting from this dissertation will be stored at the IDS library and made available to students completing graduate degrees at IDS.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Thomas J. Baerwald
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University of Iowa
Iowa City
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