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.

Concerned citizens across Africa will be able to report on how aid work is affecting their communities via text message and social media submissions. The information they provide will appear on an interactive-map and will be redirected in social media posts toward any NGOs involved. This reporting will broaden the public discourse on foreign aid, cultivate a more nuanced understanding of the human ramifications of failed projects, and increase transparency and accountability over time. 


Images from across Ghana: Abandoned nutrition center 2013; Incomplete water project 2014; Letter from community advocate 2014; Unused grinding mills 2014; Women's group with volunteers 2014; Unused laptops 2013; Unfinished school building 2014



The efficiency of development aid is one of the more contentious issues of our time, but consistent journalistic investigation and the voices of the would-be beneficiaries are often missing from this debate. What Went Wrong? is an effort to reframe the conversation on foreign aid through in-depth photojournalism, crowdsourced reports, and data visualization. 

Our map-based interface will be populated by SMS and social media submissions from aid recipients, elevating those often-unheard voices. Initial submissions will be answered with a series of survey questions, designed to verify all reports as much as possible. The resulting data will be Tweeted at any NGOs involved in order to further verify the report, bring the matter to their attention, and allow them a chance to publicly respond.

By connecting vital local perspectives to the global conversation on aid, we will greatly enhance that conversation, facilitating a dialogue between donors and recipients as equals. What Went Wrong? challenges the existing misperception of rural Africa while helping locals influence how aid affects their lives, becoming agents of change in their own communities.


Unfinished latrine project, Wantugu, Ghana. 2014



Photographer Peter DiCampo began documenting failed foreign aid projects in 2013, starting with his own: an incomplete latrine project from his time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Ghana. Since then, he has collected the stories of numerous development projects gone awry in Ghana and Malawi, photographing the abandoned objects and structures left behind while gathering telling opinions from the people they were meant to benefit. 

In 2015, the Photography, Expanded Fellowship allowed DiCampo, with designer Joe Wheeler and a team of developers, to create a prototype for the What Went Wrong? platform and begin building out the community reporting system.


Project Partners