What Went Wrong?

Co-founder & Design Lead

What Went Wrong? is a citizen journalism project mapping failed, unfinished, or broken aid projects across Africa.

We are working to bring the voices of aid recipients to the forefront of the global discussion on foreign aid, inverting the traditional power dynamic by putting impact evaluation in the hands of the people most directly affected by aid interventions: the beneficiaries.
By connecting vital local perspectives to the global conversation on foreign aid, the What Went Wrong? project will broaden public discourse and cultivate a more nuanced understanding of the human ramifications of failed projects, increasing transparency and accountability over time.

Service Diagram

What Went Wrong Service Diagram.jpg

Using our platform, concerned citizens across Africa will be able to report on how aid work is affecting their communities via phone and social media submissions.

We were able to run a nation-wide pilot of the service in Kenya in 2018 and collected over 200 reports. Users who called or texted in received a series of survey questions, designed to verify all reports as much as possible. Our team was then able to research each report and follow up on specific tops. Vetted reports redirected in social media posts toward any NGOs involved in order to further verify the report, bring the matter to the NGO’s attention, and allow them a chance to respond, publicly. All reports will be shared on an interactive map. This participatory journalism will be followed by in-depth reporting on specific case studies that the survey submissions unveil.

Survey System

Reports & Tweets

I have worked in close collaboration with photographer and Co-founder of Everyday AfricaPeter DiCampo, to create partnerships with community radio stations and local journalists, and develop a community reporting system that includes SMS, IVR, an online survey, and a Facebook Messenger chatbot. Our hope is that the end result will be a series of compelling multimedia publications, integrating qualitative and quantitative information to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the ground-level sentiment around international aid. All results from the project will be published over social media. Follow @failedaid on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest updates.

What Went Wrong? has received support from the Magnum FoundationBrown Institute for Media InnovationCode for Africa, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

StrategyJoe Wheeler