Below is a glossary of the variables that AidData's MBDC team tracks while collecting official development finance data. While each project ID can only have one entry for each of the variables under “Project Description,” it is often the case that there are multiple Organizations, Recipients, Sources, Amounts, and Contacts for a given project ID.

Project Description Variables

Variables under this heading provide quantitative and qualitative details about the nature and scope of project IDs in the database

Donor: Entity providing development assistance to recipient country. This can be a sovereign state, multilateral organization, or any other official entity providing development assistance to a recipient country.

ID: Unique identification number assigned to every project that is created in the database. Within the MBDC database, projects can be accessed by ID numbers by using the “Access project by ID” function.

Title: Short phrase describing the nature of a given project.

Agreement Year: The year in which an agreement was reportedly made between a supplier of development finance and a recipient for a project. If available, the agreement year is the year of the formal signed commitment for a project; if commitment year is unavailable, or if a commitment has not been made, the year of the informal pledge is the agreement year for a project.

Year Uncertain: Marker for projects without any sources reporting a specific pledge or commitment year. In these cases, the year of the earliest media report serves as the “agreement year”.

Capacity: Any non-monetary quantitative detail(s) about a given project that help define the scope of the project. This variable is designed primarily for in-kind contributions in which donors provide recipients with a set quantity of goods and/or services. Common examples include medical supplies, food aid, and technical specialists that perform training inside the recipient country. However, the “Capacity” variable can also be used for projects that do specify a monetary value. For example, a rural school that was built using a $1 million donation may have a “capacity” of 25 classrooms.

Description: 1-2 paragraph comprehensive summary of the activities supported by the project. See page 15 of the methodology for a detailed explanation of how to record this variable.

CRS Sector: 3-digit sector classification based on OECD purpose codes, as below.

Code Sector
110 Education
120 Health
130 Population Policies / Programmes and Reproductive Health
140 Water Supply and Sanitation
150 Government and Civil Society (including peace and security 152)
160 Other Social infrastructure and services
210 Transport and Storage
220 Communications
230 Energy Generation and Supply
240 Banking and Financial Services
250 Business and Other Services
310 Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
320 Industry, Mining, Construction
330 Trade and Tourism
410 General Environmental Protection
420 Women
430 Other Multisector
510 General Budget Support
520 Developmental food aid/Food security assistance
530 Non-food commodity assistance
600 Action Relating to Debt
720 Emergency Response
910 Administrative Costs of Donors
920 Support to Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Government Organizations

Sector Comment: Short phrase for coders to document additional details regarding the specific subsector of the project. For projects coded as “Multisector,” coders can list each of the known sectors in “Sector Comment.”

Status: Tracks the progression of a project. Labels include: Cancelled, Completed, Pipeline: Pledge, Pipeline: Commitment Implementation, Suspended

Active: Every project in the database is either active or inactive. Projects are initially coded as “active” and remain such until labeled “inactive” by a coder. Project IDs found to be duplicates of preexisting project IDs, as well as those that are not found to constitute a project, are labeled as “inactive.” Inactive projects are later reviewed for potential data grabs and are subsequently deleted from the database.

Donor Intent: Perceived intent of the finance provider.

Categories covered by “donor intent” include:
• Development
• Commercial
• Representational
• Mixed (some development)
• Mixed (no development)

Flow Type: Details on how finances, goods or services are transferred from the donor to recipient for a project.

Flow types include:
• Debt Forgiveness
• Debt Rescheduling
• Export Credits
• Foreign Direct Investment
• Freestanding Technical Assistance
• Monetary Grant
• In-Kind Grant
• Vague Grant (either monetary or in-kind, or both)
• Loan
• Joint Venture with Recipient
• Scholarships/Training in Donor Country
• Strategic/Supplier Credit

Flow Class: Coders are also instructed to assign all projects to one of the following flow class categories:
• ODA-like
• OOF-like
• Vague (Official Finance)
• Official Investment
• Joint Ventures with Chinese state involvement
• Joint Ventures without Chinese state involvement
• FDI with Chinese state involvement
• FDI without Chinese state involvement
• Vague (Residual Commercial Activities)
• Corporate Aid (with Chinese state involvement)
• Corporate Aid (without Chinese state involvement)
• NGO aid
• Military Aid

More details on these flow categorizations can be found in Appendix D of the MBDC Methodology.

Line of Credit: Denotes a project or financial arrangement where the donor extended a line of credit to a recipient entity. This credit may or may not be used in its entirety by the recipient.

Tied: Provides details on whether projects are connected (tied) to other agreements for the exchange of goods or services between the donor and recipient. Labels include: N/A and Tied. N/A refers to projects for which coders were unable to find explicit evidence that a project ID was connected to a specific agreement for the exchange of goods and/or services between the donor and recipient.

Start Planned: The announced start date for a project.

Start Actual: The actual date that the implementation of a project began on.

End Planned: The announced completion date for a project.

End Actual: The actual date that a project was completed on.

Verified: All project IDs are initially coded as “raw.” After Stage Two searching is completed for a project, coders select either “S2: Checked” or “S2: Suspicious.” The former selection is for project IDs that appear relatively straightforward, while the latter categorization is for IDs that contain potential errors. These errors may be due to conflicting data sources, seemingly hyperbolic data sources, and/or utter lack of data to provide coders with enough confidence to mark them as “S2: Checked.”

Organization Variables

Variables under this heading concern donor and recipient organizations, both in the public and private sector, which are involved in some way with the project

Name: Name of organization

Type: Nature of organization. Categories include: Academic, Training and Research; Foundation; Government Agency; International NGO; Multilateral; National NGO; Political Party; Private Sector; Public Private Partnership; Regional NGO; and State-Owned Company. Origin and type for each organization is determined through a primary source (e.g. organizational website) or secondary source (e.g. academic article or news article stating the nature of the company).

Role: Responsibilities of an organization with respect to the given project. Labels include: Accountable, Funding, and Implementing

Origin: Where the organization is located. Labels include: Donor, Other, and Recipient.

Is Cofinanced: Denotes projects with multiple donors (including the donor of investigation), where the financial amount provided by each donor separately could not distinguished.

Recipient Variables

Variables under this section provide details on the recipient entities of projects in the database.

Recipient: Entity receiving development assistance from donor entity. This is a sovereign state unless otherwise specified within a research project. A project ID can have multiple recipients in cases where a donor entity is providing financing, goods or services to more than one country under the umbrella of one project.

Percent: What percentage of the flows used for the project are going to a given recipient. This will be 100% for all projects with one recipient.

Detail: This space is for idiosyncratic details about the recipient(s) associated with a given project ID.

Source Variables

Variables in this section document information about the media sources used to create project IDs.

URL: HTML link to a data source used in the creation of a project ID.

Doc. Type: Nature of the document used to create and/or add information to a project ID. Labels include: Donor Media Report, International Media Report, Recipient Media Report, and Non-Media Source.

Source Type: Origin of the source documented. Labels include: Baidu, Factiva, Google HK, Google SA, Google US, Local Language Source, Other English Source

Date: Date that data source was published on the Internet.

Amount Variables

Variables in this section describe the monetary and financial details associated with projects in the dataset.

Amount: Monetary amount committed by the donor entity for the completion of a project.

Currency: Currency associated with the monetary amount for a project.

USD-2009: Deflated monetary equivalent of reported monetary amount in reported currency to 2009 U.S. Dollars.


Variables in the contacts section provide information on individuals associated with projects.

Name: Name of contact

Org: Organizational affiliation of contact

Info: Other miscellaneous details about the listed contact

All of the database variable definitions found above may also be found in Appendix 1 of the MBDC project methodology. For further information, please refer to Austin Strange, Brian O’Donnell, Daniel Gamboa, and Bradley Parks. 2013. AidData’s Media-Based Data Collection Methodology, Version 1.0. Williamsburg, VA: AidData.