Generating data to inform development investment decisions.
This project was born out of the realization that neither the Afghan government nor the international donors investing in the country have the necessary information to make solid long-term development planification. Missing information problems arise at every stage of development projects: from a poor assessment of priority areas, to a lack of monitoring of activities, and a generally absent follow-up of projects.
If infrastructures are not properly maintained, the capital invested in them will melt down and public expenditures will constantly be at suboptimal levels. Without precise, reliable and updatable data, it has proven to be impossible to govern a territory and to ensure correct distribution on public services. Because of this missing information, major opportunities of good governance and accountability are systematically lost in Afghanistan. Without accurate data it is also very difficult to understand the real impact of public policies and development programs, thus breaking the learning cycle of any project.
VoxMapp offers a unique set of tools to face the above-mentioned problem, combining three factors in an optimal way: 1) easy-to-update data, 2) precise geographic location, and 3) extensive data associated with each GPS point.
We believe that the generated data can be useful for a multitude of actors in the following ways:
- Governments: to ensure public services and infrastructures are managed efficiently.
- Donors: to provide informed support, avoid overlapping and to optimize their contributions.
- NGOs and civil society: active participation through monitoring and feedback to the development of a thriving public space.
- Beneficiaries: participation in data updates through feedback and signaling how infrastructures cover their needs.
The project was first piloted in the district of Mahmood-Raqi, an area with the following worth-noting characteristics: large populations concentrated in urban settings as well as a more scattered rural population, some remote areas with very limited or no access to 3G services, and having received numerous waves of aid interventions. We then expanded the project to the rest of the province of Kapisa with support from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), and in close partnership with Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA).
We have collected data of over 8000 infrastructures in the province using the VoxMapp Baseline mobile app. The infrastructures include water pumps, electrical poles, sustaining walls, irrigation canals, bridges, hospitals, schools, mosques, markets, etc. Each infrastructure is associated with a rich batch of data containing information on: GPS coordinates, construction date, funding sources, management, basic characteristics, usage, maintenance, needs, conditions, photos. We have now a baseline dataset of the province of Kapisa, and intend to expand this to the rest of the country. Expanding this baseline to the rest of the country will allow, among other things, to generate precise trends of infrastructure use, maintenance and degradation, thus identifying areas at risk vs. areas relatively more well dotted. Further expansions of this project include a more regular and partly community-led update of each infrastructure to keep the data alive.
With this data we have generated the first map and centralized database of public infrastructures of Kapisa, with the ability of doing comparative analysis between infrastructure types in terms of usage, conditions and needs. Through our analysis we have identified information on population’s access to public services and areas requiring special attention (e.g. areas with an important population but poor access to hospitals or schools), and we have derived from our data the first population distribution map of the province. Our analysis also shows relevant trends in terms of expenditure and maintenance, with mosques in the district of Mahmood-Raqi having a maintenance budget eight times superior to those of schools.