What does aid look like?Posted: March 9, 2011
Saddo pedants like me leapt in to say: its great that it has most of the key players nicely arranged, but it is not really a map in that is actually misinformative about the locations, flows and relationships between these players. More of a nicely arranged taxonomy, in which at-a-grasp visual meaning seems to have been deprioritized in order to put the aid recipient in the centre.
My concern is that as a result it might actually lower the comprehension of how aid works, especially for the casual drive-by viewer. The most obvious one to my mind is that donor agencies, global funds and UN agencies predominantly do not interface directly with aid recipients, but mainly work through developing country governments and NGOs for that first mile/last mile of aid provision.
Tariq Khokar put put out a challenge to crowd-source a better version, based on the original diagram. That editable diagram is here. However Tariq also drew attention to this diagram which I think is a much better starting point, in terms of the actual information within, though it is unfortunately a bit spaghetti-and-meatballs:
I’ve taken a first crack at reshaping it into a diagram slightly more visually intuitive. To me, anyway! It’s certainly not yet up to information-is-beautiful standards but perhaps an iteration in that direction.
I’ve left out some important detail (ie: reverse flows, internal absorption inside each box) because I couldn’t chart that quickly in half an hour at lunch. (Seriously, for the want of a big thick arrow pointing one way and a little one pointing the opposite way…). There’s also a whole subset of boxes you could put inside the ‘voluntary organisations’ box, from grant-making foundations, to INGOs, to national and local NGOs. The size of each box is important in this visual representation. Should they be size for the cash value they pass on to the next entity, or for the number of people/organisations involved, or some other estimation of their importance?
And of course the key thing missing from this chart is the ‘community’ line from the original GHA chart. Let’s add an element of that for some real perspective.
(Source for remittances to poor countries figure: Migration Policy Institute.)
I might be able to improve on it a little in coming days using Visio. Maybe even with colours, innit!
So, over to you lot. Is this worth building on? How can we improve this?