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.


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 foreign 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. 
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. Initial submissions will be answered with a series of survey questions, designed to verify all reports as much as possible. Vetted reports will then appear on an interactive-map and will be 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. This participatory journalism will be followed by in-depth reporting on specific case studies that the survey submissions unveil.


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. Recognizing the need to elevate local voices on the topic of international aid, Peter began working with designer (and past international volunteer)  Joe Wheeler to envision how this could evolve into a participatory journalism project.

Since then, the two have worked 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 Foundation, Brown Institute for Media Innovation, Code for Africa, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.


Project Partners