‘Ground-Truthing’ Chinese Development Finance in Africa: Field Evidence from South Africa and Uganda

Discussion Paper
1 January 2016

A new methodology, Tracking Underreported Financial Flows (TUFF), leverages open-source
information on development finance by non-transparent, non-Western donors. If such open-source methods
prove to be valid and reliable, they can enhance our understanding of the causes and consequences of
development finance from non-transparent donors including, but not limited to, China. But open-source methods
face charges of inaccuracy. In this study we create and field-test a replicable ‘ground-truthing’ methodology to
verify, update, and improve open-source data with in-person interviews and site visits in Uganda and South
Africa. Ground-truthing generally reveals close agreement between open-source data and answers to protocol
questions from informants with official roles in the Chinese-funded projects. Our findings suggest that open-source
data collection, while limited in knowable ways, can provide a stronger empirical foundation for research
on development finance.

Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication | 25 April 2016