April 11, 2011—Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and only 30 percent of its rural population has access to electricity. Due to the country’s uneven geographical terrain providing electricity in rural areas can be difficult as well as costly. A World Bank project is providing electricity to around 130,000 people in rural Bolivia by extending the grid and installing solar systems in homes, schools and clinics in the remotest and poorest regions of the country.
Project managers are using a new interactive mapping platform to make this initiative more effective and target activities to the regions with most needs. “This geo mapping of our programs to their exact geographic location helps target activities to the regions with most need and monitor project results and impact as a tool for transparency and social accountability,” said Oscar Avalle, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Bolivia. This new platform is part of a larger World Bank initiative to use innovations in technology to democratize development.
Open and Free Access to Data for Everyone
The World Bank launched the Open Data initiative In April 2010, and in an unprecedented move released its large storehouse of databases to the public for free. Publicly available data has helped empower citizens especially, the poor who lack access to basic services and information that helps them demand these services.
It's about geo-enabling the Bank and creating the foundational data that will allow for all kinds of analysis, better planning, better monitoring, and eventually direct engagement with citizens based on actual data.Aleem Walji, WBI Innovation Practice manager
Access to data can help citizens ask for teachers where they are absent from schools even though they are on the roster, ask for more doctors and midwives in their clinics, clean and safe drinking water and other basic necessities to help them survive. Freely available data about themselves is helping citizens hold their local governments accountable and helps them become players in solving existing problems.
The World Bank Institute’s (WBI) Innovation team is working together with external partners, such as AidData on several initiatives that help make this data interactive, user-friendly and adaptable to a range of uses. One such initiative is the Mapping for Results platform that was just developed.
New Ways to Visualize Data
The online tool overlays maps with poverty and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) data such as infant mortality rates, with the geographic location of World Bank financed projects and those of other multilateral donors. The platform allows for the analysis of donor-funded projects and through its new tools, can facilitate donor coordination and aid effectiveness.
The platform allows for the analysis of donor-funded projects and through its new tools, can facilitate donor coordination and aid effectiveness. The program has identified more than 16,000 project activity sites for 2,277 active Bank-financed projects across 79 of the poorest countries that receive assistance from the International Development Association.
“The objectives of this initiative are to visualize the location of investment projects, better monitor project results and impact on people, enhance transparency and strengthen country dialogue and civic engagement,” said Aleem Walji, WBI Innovation Practice manager.
Interactive mapping platforms have also been used in Afghanistan where GPS cameras track progress on irrigation infrastructure in remote areas; Kenya where inter-active maps better target schools to needs; in Cambodia to monitor the rehabilitation of a national highway network; in the Philippines to monitor school performance and in Haiti to map the Bank’s response to the earthquake.
Maps for Increased Social Accountability and Results
“In a geo-enabled world, many people can create maps and different maps will tell different stories,” Walji said. “It’s about geo-enabling the Bank and creating the foundational data that will allow for all kinds of analysis, better planning, better monitoring, and eventually direct engagement with citizens based on actual data.”
In partnership with AidData, program has also analyzed and geographically coded World Bank and African Development Bank financed project portfolios across six countries to demonstrate how this can promote aid effectiveness. The countries are Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Botswana. The Mapping for Results program is a partnership with AidData, an initiative of the Development Gateway, the College of William and Mary, and Brigham Young University.
“The free and open access to data can unleash innovations, improve the participation of traditionally excluded groups and enhance the effectiveness of our programs, said Soren Gigler who has been leading this effort in WBI. “The Mapping for Results program is a concrete example of how open data and innovations in technology can increase the accountability, strengthen results and enhance the coordination of international aid programs. The program aims to empower citizens and local communities to directly participate in the development and implementation of our programs by establishing a direct feedback mechanism between citizens, government and donors.”
Read our fact sheet (PDF 146KB)
Read an article on Open Data
Read what Mashable says about the initiative