30 Oct

A Perspective on the DHS Fellows Program from a 2013 Fellow

2013 DHS Fellows

2013 DHS Fellows

By Simon Peter Kibira

In 2013, I was a member of a three-person team from Makerere University selected to participate in the DHS Fellows Program along with four other teams from African universities. The DHS Fellows program is designed to increase the capacity of countries to conduct further analysis of DHS data. Over the course of two intensive, yet enlightening, workshops, DHS staff mentored and encouraged us in our research endeavours.

DHS Fellows including Simon at the 2nd 2013 Fellows workshop in Kenya.

From L to R: 2013 DHS Fellows Madeleine Wayack- Pambè (Burkina Faso), Elizabeth Nansubuga (Uganda), and Simon Kibira at the 2nd 2013 Fellows workshop in Kenya.

The first workshop in Uganda focused on technical skills in using DHS data. The workshop consisted of various technical sessions that allowed participants to learn survey data analysis skills from the DHS researchers, to exchange research ideas among Fellows, and to hear about former Fellows’ experience working with DHS data.  The second workshop, held in Kenya, focused on writing our working papers. We refined analysis, addressed reviewers’ comments from DHS subject experts, and polished our final drafts.

The hands-on experience of working with DHS data through further analyses was such a remarkable experience.  The DHS facilitators and co-facilitators provided one-to-one assistance that made working through dataset challenges much easier. We had sessions where we listened to each team’s presentation about research findings. It was amazing to see how much we evolved over the course of two workshops to be able to positively critique each other’s work from very informed viewpoints. In my own perspective, we were turning into “DHS experts.”

Apart from the working paper, the workshop facilitators organized us to visit DHS implementers in Uganda–the Uganda Bureau of Statistics–through which we had a better understanding how DHS data were collected. We were also encouraged to disseminate our fellowship paper further through conferences and peer-reviewed journals. My team’s work resulted in three presentations at international conferences in Uganda, South Africa, and the US, and a peer-reviewed journal article. After the Fellowship ended I collaborated with other faculty at Makerere University, including a 2012 DHS Fellow, on a new study using DHS data. We recently published our findings in a peer-reviewed journal.

Further, we were encouraged to use DHS Program materials for capacity building trainings at our institutions. It is fulfilling to see that data collected nationally can be fully and properly utilised to benefit African university students and researchers, but also bring out results beyond what is published in DHS survey final reports. The onus is on all Fellows to take an extra step to ensure vital recommendations from published papers are utilised by health programs.

I am proud of the invaluable collegial network I have among the DHS Fellows. I know future collaboration can be based on such networks in different countries and universities. These are immeasurable benefits beyond the one year fellowship.

When the DHS Program asked me to co-facilitate the 2014 fellowship, my decision was a no-brainer. Aside from helping teams, I learned a lot as a co-facilitator from the Fellows. It was also very fulfilling to see Fellows’ papers in the DHS working paper series.

The mark the fellowship program has left on my academic and research career will endure throughout my career. The DHS Fellows program is an experience every early or mid-career professional in research and academia will find rewarding.  I hope many more people from DHS countries will benefit from the DHS Fellows program.



2015 DHS Fellows Program

Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 DHS Fellows Program through December 1, 2014. Applications must be from teams comprised of three faculty members from the same university who teach in departments of demography, public health, economics, sociology, geography, or other social sciences. Applications are only being accepted from faculty members at universities in Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, or Zimbabwe. Read more>>


Simon Peter Kibira is an Assistant lecturer at Makerere University in the School of Public Health. He started his career at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) in 2006 as a regional supervisor in the implementation of the 2006 UDHS. In 2008, he joined the faculty at Makerere University and in the 2011 UDHS he was part of the external team from the School of Public Health that did quality control during data collection. He authored the chapter on Family Planning in the 2011 UDHS final report.  Simon is a 2013 DHS Fellow and co-facilitated the 2014 Fellows workshops. He is currently pursuing further studies in International Health at University of Bergen and part of his study is based on Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey data, inspired by his participation in the 2013 DHS Fellows Program.

24 Oct

Introducing: Sampling & Weighting at DHS

In my travels as a DHS sampling statistician, I have met countless people who want to hear about the sampling techniques and procedures we use in DHS surveys. Recognizing this fact, we are working to incorporate more sampling-related capacity strengthening activities at The DHS Program. The feedback we get after these activities has only encouraged us to produce more learning tools highlighting basic sampling-related concepts and topics used in DHS surveys.

2012 Tajikistan DHS

2012 Tajikistan DHS

We created a 4-part video series (the next two will be coming within the year) designed to introduce DHS sampling concepts, two of which were launched around World Development Information Day. In the videos, we present the sampling design and procedures used in the 2012 Tajikistan DHS survey as an example of sampling procedures in DHS surveys.

The first video, Introduction to DHS Sampling Procedures, explains the basic concepts of sampling, introduces the stages of designing a sample in a DHS survey, and discusses the key factors to consider when calculating sample sizes for a DHS survey.

The second video, Introduction of Principles of DHS Sampling Weights, introduces the concept of weighting survey data.  You will understand the goals and the importance of weighting as well as the concepts of over- and under-sampling.

Both videos introduce you to the basic sampling definitions, concepts, and procedures followed in a standard DHS survey. If you are interested in more information about the sampling procedures in the DHS surveys, you can check out the DHS Sampling and Household Listing Manual. If you have more questions, check out the user forum!

What did you learn from the sampling & weighting videos? What would you like to explore further? Comment below!

14 Oct

Reflections on the DHS Curriculum workshop in Malawi

DHS Curriculum Workshop participants after a successful training.

DHS Curriculum Workshop participants after a successful training

By James Kaphuka

In July, I facilitated my fourth DHS Curriculum workshop. It was also the second time I had trained graduate students from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

The DHS Curriculum Facilitator’s Guide is a comprehensive package of ready-made training materials about understanding and using Demographic and Health Survey reports.  The curriculum is designed for use in African universities and with public health program staff.  Over 25 hours of instruction are divided into eight stand-alone modules designed to be a course on its own or customized and integrated into existing curricula.

This particular workshop was a stand-alone course held in Zomba, Malawi, from 21- 25 July 2014. Participants were students at Chancellor College, University of Malawi, pursuing master’s degrees in Development Studies.

2010 Malawi DHS

2010 Malawi DHS

A majority of the participants did not know anything about Demographic and Health Surveys until this workshop—and most surprisingly, quite a few of them indicated that they had never seen the results of the 2010 Malawi DHS until they worked with it during the workshop. A majority of the participants struggled to understand Module 4, Conducting a DHS, especially Sessions 2 and 3, because of their background. Session 2 describes the sampling procedures used in the DHS, while Session 3 goes over the principles of Sampling Weights. However, the group showed great interest and everyone was very eager to learn more about DHS and enjoyed group work and exercises.  The group really enjoyed the Malaria Trivia Game (Module 7)!

Malaria trivia game

Malaria trivia game

After the workshop,  many participants expressed  that this course should be a must for all graduate students at Malawian universities because the course material is very helpful in their school work. A number of them have indicated that they will use DHS results in their project work or dissertation.  There is a great demand among the students, both undergraduate and graduate.

I am very passionate about my DHS survey work, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with DHS Program staff so that together we can help train (and mentor) as many undergraduate and graduate students using DHS in Malawian universities.

For more photos of the training, check out the Facebook album.

James Kaphuka is a survey specialist with more than 5 years of professional experience providing technical assistance in all phases of survey implementation, from questionnaire and training manual design to report writing and data dissemination. Kaphuka has been directly involved  (as a consultant) in the implementing and completing Demographic and Health surveys in Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, and Liberia. Kaphuka has a Master of Science degree in Demography and Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London and an MSc in Social Research Methods and Statistics from the University of Manchester.

You can learn more about his work with The DHS Program here:


09 Oct

Spotlight on Implementing Agencies: DRC

Congolese visitors at DHS Headquarters

Congolese visitors at DHS Headquarters

In May 2014, The DHS Program welcomed visitors from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This post is one in a series of interviews with visitors to DHS headquarters. Don’t read French? You can use the translate feature at the top of the page!

Nom : HABIMANA Joseph , KASHONGWE Newali Jean Paul, MAKAYA M Mbenza Simon, MUKUNDA Munandi Jeba, SEBINWA Jean François

Pays d’origine : République Démocratique du Congo

Titre et organisation :

HABIMANA : Coordinateur Médical EDS RDC II 2013, Chargé du Partenariat Externe au Ministère de la Santé Publique (12 Direction)

KASHONGWE : Coordonnateur Médical Adjoint EDS-RDC II Biologie Programme National de Lutte Contre le SIDA/RDC

MAKAYA : Consultant ICF International

MUKUNDA : Directeur Technique/ EDS RDC II


Quand vous ne travaillez pas, quel est l’endroit  où vous préférez aller :

HABIMANA : Quand je ne travaille pas, soit je suis à la maison, soit que je vais voir mes nièces et leurs familles respectives. Mais pas souvent.

KASHONGWE : Au terrain de basketball, bibliothèque, cyber café

MAKAYA : Quand je ne travaille pas au bureau, je préfère aller à la campagne dans ma ferme

Chez vous, où a-t-on le plus de chances de vous trouver le samedi ?

HABIMANA : Le samedi et le dimanche il est plus facile de me trouver à la maison. Je me repose le weekend.

MAKAYA : C’est à la ferme qu’on a le plus de chance de me trouver le samedi

Racontez un peu de la première fois que vous avez travaillé sur des données du «The DHS Program»:

HABIMANA : Les données du programme DHS ont donné des résultats positifs et le DHS est un programme qui reflète la réalité du terrain.

KASHONGWE : C’est en 2007, dans la gestion des échantillons

SEBINWA : Avant mon recrutement j’ai étudié en profondeur le rapport du 1er EDS pour préparer mon interview

Qu’est-ce qui vous a le plus agréablement surpris lors de votre séjour au «The DHS Program»?

KASHONGWE : L’organisation, la disponibilité des collaborateurs, le calme dans le travail, l’accueil

MAKAYA : C’est  l’accueil cordial réservé à l’équipe lors de sa présentation de bureau en bureau au personnel du programme DHS

SEBINWA : La jovialité des personnes

Qu’est-ce qui vous manque le plus quand vous êtes ici ?

MAKAYA : C’est la possibilité de se déplacer et de visiter la ville à souhait.

MUKUNDA : En général, tout va bien à part l’atmosphère familiale qui me manque après les heures de service.

Quelle est la plus grande différence entre le bureau du «The DHS Program» et votre bureau dans votre pays ?

KASHONGWE : La climatisation, plus confortable, c’est plus adapté au travail

SEBINWA : La fonctionnalité et le confort

2013-14 DRC DHS Final Report

2013-14 DRC DHS Final Report

Quelle est votre  page de couverture préférée ?

Tout le monde : Ma page de couverture préférée est l’okapi qui n’existe qu’en RDC

Quel est votre chapitre ou indicateur préféré, et pourquoi ? 

HABIMANA : Chapitre sur la nutrition sur lequel j’ai travaillé qui montre l’état chronique de la malnutrition des enfants en RDC.

KASHONGWE : Le VIH/Sida parce qu’il est précis et détaillé par province

MUKUNDA : Chapitre planification familiale car il vous permet de bien planifier les naissances

SEBINWA : La baisse de la mortalité infantile : l’indicateur est porteur d’espoir pour l’avenir

Quel est le problème de population ou de santé qui vous intéresse le plus, et pourquoi ?

MAKAYA : Le problème de population qui m’intéresse le plus est celui relatif à l’urbanisation parce que une répartition spatiale de la population mal maitrisé est un frein important au développement.

MUKUNDA : Le problème de santé des enfants et de la mère car le développement du pays dépend de ressources humains qu’il regorge

Comment espérez-vous que les données de l’EDS sur votre pays seront utilisées ?

HABIMANA : Nous espérons que le pays va sensibiliser les différents domaines traités par l’EDS, mobiliser les ressources et agir sur les points présentant les indicateurs faible et améliorer davantage tous les indicateurs positifs.

KASHONGWE : Par la dissémination, par les ateliers, des publications, leur utilisation dans recherches scientifiques

MUKUNDA : Après diffusion des résultats, ces données servent le gouvernement et les partenaires à revoir les projets et programmes de développement

SEBINWA : Compte tenu des attentes des acteurs, j’espère que les données seront exploitées au maximum

Qu’avez–vous appris en travaillant avec «The DHS Program »?

HABIMANA : Nous avons beaucoup appris sur l’EDS, l’élaboration des questionnaires qui ont touché presque tous les domaines de la santé et de la population, le traitement des données et l’interdépendance de tous ces éléments. Le DHS est une autre façon de connaitre le milieu dans lequel on vit.

KASHONGWE : Tous les aspects de planification, de formation, de rapports, d’estimation, de déploiement de matériel médical pour l’activité sur les biomarqueurs

MAKAYA : Tous les chiffres des rapports doivent être vérifiés.

MUKUNDA : Avec le programme DHS, j’ai appris beaucoup de choses notamment le renforcement des capacités dans la planification des enquêtes, de la collecte, traitement des données et la rédaction des rapports (préliminaire et final).

26 Sep

2030 now: reflections on the 2014 Social Good Summit

Social Good Summit Banner2 Days. 45 Sessions. 97 speakers. An audience that wants to think critically about the issues the world faces today and what it will look like in 2030. That was the setup for this year’s Social Good Summit, hosted by Mashable and the UN foundation in New York City during UN week.

On September 21-22, 2014, I was in the audience, which was both exhausting and exhilarating. As with anything involving social media, the action was non-stop. The agenda was fast-paced (no, really, things were scheduled in 5 minute increments) and topics ranged from women’s empowerment to conflict-free technology, from maternal and child health to the realities of climate change.

But there was a common thread connecting speakers as diverse as Dr. Jim Kim, Helen Clark, Nicholas Kristof, and Dr. Donald Hopkins. Each speaker took the stage and proclaimed the absolute imperative of collecting quality data. It is data that will allow us to accurately measure the progress we’ve made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Data will drive decisionmaking not only for the next set of goals, but on policies and programs that shape the way the world looks in 2030, 2050, and beyond.

The MDGs have been touted as being widely successful in ramping up initiatives to tackle the world’s biggest problems. But without many of the indicators included in DHS surveys on maternal and child health, HIV, malaria, and women’s empowerment, we wouldn’t know how to create meaningful metrics to track them. We wouldn’t know what we’ve achieved and where we’ve fallen short.

Of course, the presentations were about much more than just data collection and use. We heard stories about education and connecting classrooms half a world away. Richard Curtis persuaded participants to “star” in his next movie. Alicia Keys wrapped up day one by speaking about her new “We are here” campaign and performing the song she wrote to spur the movement. She urged the audience to consider our interconnectedness and reflect about how each one of us could think less about “I” and more about “we.”

On Monday, as the Social Good Summit began its second day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reflected:

“Your ideas can help make #2030Now. It’s more than a hashtag—it’s a vision.”

Everyone has their own ideas about what the future will bring, and many presenters at the Social Good Summit, including Richard Stengel, appealed to the audience with urgency. In the end, these calls for action reflect the most important aspect of the Summit, that the sharing and learning isn’t over. We can all reflect on what “2030 now” means and how the choices we make now will affect our collective future.

Did you have a chance to participate in the Social Good Summit, in NYC or online? What does #2030Now mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

And—because this is about social media after all – #ICYMI, here’s the video feed, so you can catch up and join the conversation.

16 Sep

Ngonelewa! We are together!

Journalist Training in Comoros, June 2014

Journalist Training in Comoros, June 2014

By Mercedes Sayagues

When was the last time you heard about the Comoros islands in the news?

Maybe the Yemenia Air airplane that crashed into the ocean near Moroni, the capital, in 2006?  Or the hijacked Ethiopian Airways plane that crash-landed near its airport in 1996? Or the series of mercenary-led coups in the 1990s?

But in this decade, Comoros has been largely peaceful and peaceful countries don’t generally make the news.

2012 Comoros DHS

2012 Comoros DHS

While the world may have forgotten about the charming Comoros archipelago located north of Madagascar, the country decided it needed to know more about itself, so it commissioned a Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) – its second ever. The first one dates from 1996 – 18 years ago.

Work on the DHS began in 2012 and the final results were presented at a national seminar in Moroni, the capital, in early June 2014.

Comoros National Seminar, June 2014

Comoros National Seminar, June 2014

1996 Comoros DHS

1996 Comoros DHS

Afterwards, I facilitated a two-day training for 17 journalists (print, radio and broadcast) from Ngazidwa, Nzwani and Mwali islands. They were thrilled to have reliable data about their country, their islands, and their communities.

The 2012 survey reveals progress, especially in child health, women’s education and household standards of living.  Remarkably, in some areas, like maternal mortality and gender equality in high school, Comoros ranks higher than other countries in the region. There was lots of good humored clapping among the group when they saw those tables.

Among the good news:

  • In 1996, 52% of women gave birth with assistance of trained health staff. In 2012, this figured had climbed to 82%.
  • Under-five mortality – the likelihood of dying between birth and five years of age – was halved, from 104 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1996 to 50 in 2012.
  • Total fertility, the average number of children per woman, declined from 5.1 in 1996 to 4.3 in 2012.
  • More than 2 in 3 households have electricity, compared to 3 in 10 in 1996.
  • Seven in ten households own a cell phone, 6 in 10 own a TV, and 5 in 10 own a radio.

The downside:

  • The proportion of children fully vaccinated rose from 55% in 1996 to 62% in 2012, but is still too low.
  • Only 14% of married women age 15-49 use a modern method of contraception. On Mwali island, this number drops to 9%.
  • 32% of currently married women have an unmet need for family planning.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 women and less than 2 in 10 men agree that wife beating is justified for certain reasons.
  • Only about 3 in 10 households use improved (and not shared) toilets.

On the second day of the training, journalists prepared stories for June 16, The Day of the African Child. Working in groups, they selected topics to explore, which included child vaccination, malnutrition, education, and infant mortality.

The group was lively, participative, and showed a sparkling sense of humor. I taught them one very useful word in Shangaan (an African language from Southern Mozambique) and they taught me the equivalent in Comorian. These became our training key words: Hakumana! Ngonelewa! Ok, we are together!

Mercedes Sayagues is a journalist, editor, media trainer, former Knight Health Fellow in Mozambique and a consultant for The DHS Program. Born in Uruguay, she has lived in Africa for 22 years and is based in Pretoria, South Africa. She speaks Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, Italian and some Shangaan.

09 Sep

Spotlight on Implementing Agencies: Niger

In September 2013, The DHS Program welcomed visitors from Niger. This is the fifth in a series of interviews with visitors to DHS headquarters. Don’t read French? You can use the translate feature at the top of the page!



Pays d’origine:



Institut National de la Statistique  (INS) et Coordination Intersectorielle de Lutte contre les IST/VIH/SIDA

Quand vous ne travaillez pas, quel est l’endroit  où vous préférez aller: 

NOMAOU : Les magasins et les restaurants à côté de notre hôtel.

HASSANE : Magasins, Centres historiques (Washington)

La première fois que vous avez travaillée sur des données du “The DHS Program:

MODIELI J’ai eu à faire plusieurs études approfondies à partir des données de DHS ; j’ai surtout travaillé avec DHS 2006 sur mon mémoire de démographie.

Qu’est-ce qui vous a le plus agréablement surpris lors de votre séjour au programme DHS? 

NOMAOU: Le fait qui m’a le plus surpris est l’organisation du travail pour finaliser le rapport et les différents documents (Affiche, Note de synthèse, le dépliant)

OUMAROU: Une bonne organisation de travail, chacun sait ce qu’il doit faire.

Qu’est-ce qui vous manque le plus quand vous êtes ici?
OUMAROU & HASSANE: Ma famille.

JOHOA: La convivialité familiale

2012 Burundi MIS

2012 Burundi MIS

Quelle est la plus grande différence entre le bureau du “The DHS Program” et votre bureau dans votre pays?

NOMAOU: Ce n’est pas à comparer. ICF International est une grande entreprise alors l’INS Niger est une structure de l’Etat.

JOHOA: Le calme, café et amuse-gueule pour tout le monde.

Quelle est votre page de couverture préférée?  

MODIELI: J’ai pas pu prendre connaissance des pages de couverture de tous les pays, mais parmi celle que j’ai consultées celle du Burundi me parait bien.

2012 NIger DHS

2012 NIger DHS

HASSANE: Celle que nous avons choisie pour le Niger

Quel est votre chapitre ou indicateur préféré, et pourquoi?

NOMAOU: Mon chapitre préféré est celui  relatif à la nutrition des enfants de moins de cinq ans parce que la malnutrition est l’une des causes de mortalité infantile.

OUMAROU: Le chapitre sur la mortalité des enfants de moins de cinq ans parce qu’à partir de ce chapitre, on voit les progrès accomplis par notre pays en matière de santé des enfants.

JOHOA: Santé de l’enfant, si enfant malade rien ne va.

Quel est le problème de population ou de santé qui vous intéresse le plus, et pourquoi?

MODIELI: Le paludisme car c’est la première cause de morbidité chez les enfants de moins de 5 ans au Niger.

OUMAROU: C’est le niveau de fécondité des femmes qui est stagnent depuis la première EDSN1992. Il va falloir mener une étude sur les déterminants de cette fécondité, mais aussi sur la baisse de la mortalité des enfants de moins de cinq ans qui sont d’ailleurs deux phénomènes liés.

HASSANE: Planification familiale, VIH/SIDA, Accouchement en milieu hospitalier, amélioration de la couverture sanitaire

Comment espérez-vous que les données de l’EDS sur votre pays seront utilisées ?

OUMAROU :  J’espère qu’elles vont être utilisées par ceux qui devraient le faire à savoir le pouvoir public, la société civile, les étudiants et chercheurs ainsi que les journalistes qui auront la tâche de bien expliquer le niveau des principaux indicateurs.

JOHOA : Les données de DHS seront utilisées par les autorités administratives, les organismes internationaux, les ONGs, les étudiants …(biens préssés d’avoir les résultats définitifs).

HASSANE : Les responsables des différents programmes vont faire une analyse de la situation (voir le niveau des indicateurs, dégager des priorités et programmer des actions puis chercher des financements auprès des partenaires.)

Qu’avez–vous appris en travaillant avec “The DHS Program“?

MODIELI : La maîtrise de la structure des questionnaires, et surtout la familiarisation avec les variables utilisées.

NOMAOU : Travailler avec ICF international permet de mettre en place une bonne organisation du travail sur le terrain et surtout de collecter des bonnes informations ce qui conduira au calcul des indicateurs de qualité.

OUMAROU : Beaucoup de choses. En tant que Directeur Technique pendant l’EDSN-MICS 2006 et l’EDSN-MICS 2012, j’ai appris la rigueur qui entoure le processus de réalisation de cette enquête, de l’échantillonnage jusqu’à la dissémination des résultats. C’est une bonne expérience dans la carrière d’un statisticien démographe.

02 Sep

Spotlight on New Staff: Katie Judd

This is the fourth in a series of posts introducing readers to new staff at The DHS Program

Katie Judd

Katie Judd

Name: Katie Judd

Position title:  Social Media Specialist, i.e. the person behind DHS profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog!

Languages spoken: English, Portuguese, and Spanish.

When not working, favorite place to visit:  I love South America! I would like to go back to Brazil and I would love to explore more in Argentina and Chile. I finished high school in Maine, and I think that’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, so I love going back there, too.

Favorite type of cuisine: If you have to twist my arm, I’ll probably pick something Latin American – Brazilian, Peruvian, Mexican. But I love all types of cuisine, so it’d be a tough choice!

Last good book you read: The Inner Game of Tennis, by W. Timothy Gallwey. It sounds oddball…and I actually don’t play tennis…but it’s all about the mental side of sports and it’s actually a really interesting read! Also on my bookshelf: Embedded Autonomy and Dependent Development by Peter Evans and Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright.

Where would we find you on a Saturday?  Playing ultimate frisbee, biking around DC, or hiking in a nearby park!

First time you worked with DHS survey data: February 2014

What is on your desk (or bulletin board/wall) right now?  The DHS Dissemination Team guide to style, 3 infographics on Women’s Lives and Challenges, a Photoshare calendar, and a DHS World Cup bracket.

2011 Nepal DHS Final Report

2011 Nepal DHS Final Report

What is your favorite survey final report cover?  Nepal 2011. It’s such a gorgeous photo!

Favorite chapter or indicator, and why?  Women’s Empowerment. I have always been most drawn to this topic. Women have come a long way in the struggle for gender equality, but there’s still a long way to go.

What’s your favorite way to access The DHS Program’s data?  I’m a big fan of the Mobile App and STATcompiler, but sometimes I prefer the hard copy of a report to take notes or just for ease of reading.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why?  Women and girls’ education and empowerment and gender-based violence. This is something that’s close to my heart and that I’ve long been passionate about.

What are you most looking forward to about your new position?  I’m looking forward to developing messages and visuals for DHS social media channels, getting to know our partners and data users on Twitter and Facebook, and exploring more creative ways to present DHS data by creating infographics like this one.

What has been your biggest surprise so far?  I’ve been impressed by how willing people are to talk to you about their specialty or area of expertise. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the DHS tradition of colleagues bringing back tasty chocolates after they’ve been on a long trip abroad! I’m amazed at some of the stories colleagues have to tell about their experiences in the field (I’m working on getting them to write those experiences up for this blog…)

What do you look forward to bringing to The DHS Program (job-related or not!)? I’m excited to bring my knowledge of and enthusiasm for online communications & digital media to the team. I am also looking forward to making more serious forays into using social media in other languages (specifically Portuguese and Spanish).

19 Aug

DHS eLearning Course Updated

Credit: Joanna Lowell, The DHS Program.

Credit: Joanna Lowell, The DHS Program.

How much can change in 4 years? I asked myself as I prepared to update the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS): Data Use eLearning course.  I thought I’d spend a day or two updating the links to reflect our new project name and websites, add a quick page on our new web tools and push out a new course in no time.  But once I started reviewing the four-year-old content, my document of revisions reached 15 pages.  How had this happened?  The DHS Program is known for its standard methodologies and consistency over time. How could the introductory two hour course on the DHS need such an overhaul after only four years?

The DHS: Data Use course provides an overview of the Demographic and Health Surveys. It covers many different topics such as:

  • Basics of survey design and implementation
  • The demographic and health statistics
  • Practice reading DHS tables
  • Protocol and implications of testing for HIV in a population-based survey
  • Tips for communication
  • Using DHS data for programs and policy making

And while most of this information hasn’t changed conceptually, shifting data needs and improving technology have changed the way we do surveys.

New topics and data needs: Five years ago, most DHS surveys focused on malnutrition as stunting and wasting.  Now, in many countries, our focus is on overnutrition.  Five years ago, we were talking about how to measure trends in HIV prevalence.  Now we are moving towards measuring HIV incidence, and even viral load.  Five years ago, many countries were concerned with reporting MDG data.  Now we work with partners to identify the next set of indicators that will track global progress towards health and development.

New technology.  Five years ago, a few countries had experimented with computer-assisted interviewing in DHS surveys.  This has now become the norm, with some countries even editing data in the field and transferring files electronically for immediate quality checks.  Technology has also changed the way we communicate DHS data and support data use. The DHS Program Mobile App, User Forum, and many social media platforms did not exist when the course was first developed in 2010.   The STATcompiler and Spatial Data Repository provide data visualization tools that go far beyond basic data tables, helping people see patterns in data and encouraging use by less technical audiences.

New project. Five years ago, we were MEASURE DHS.  In October 2013, MEASURE DHS became The DHS Program. With the new DHS project came new partners and a new priority area: capacity strengthening.  The updated eLearning course describes how DHS incorporates capacity strengthening into every stage of the survey and how we are working with countries to foster country ownership of DHS data.

I can’t wait to see where the next five years takes us, as a global community.  The DHS Program will be standing at the ready, eager to provide data to track our progress and our challenges, and prepared to try new techniques, ask new questions, and integrate new technology.   I look forward to updating the elearning course in another several years.  I’m sure I can’t even begin to imagine what some of those pages might look like.

For more information or to take the course, visit Demographic and Health Surveys: Data Use eLearning course.

As of June 2014, more than 5,900 learners had completed the DHS: Data Use course from 132 countries. 

12 Aug

The New DHS Program API: What Non-Developers Should Know

Don’t let the technical acronym scare you! While application developers and computer programmers are usually the direct users of APIs, the DHS API is a great tool for program managers and researchers.

What is an API?

An Application Programming Interface, or API, provides software developers with direct access to a database.  Developers can use the data in the database to populate websites and applications.  These applications can include data visualizations, tabular data for dissemination of information to specific stakeholders, or analysis.

How can the DHS API be used?

The DHS API connects users directly to the STATcompiler database of aggregated indicators.  That is, total fertility rates, mortality rates, and all of the almost 1500 indicators found in the STATcompiler for 90 countries over 30 years.   A developer at a maternal health project could select the maternal health indicators from a sub-sample of countries to populate a web page on key DHS data for the areas in which the project works.   Or a mobile app developer could use the DHS API to link STATcompiler data with other global health data and create a global development data visualization tool.

The API can also be used by analysts, as data can be returned in Stata-readable format, allowing for instant integration of indicator-level data into your Stata analysis.  The API website has a simple Stata Example page. It is also possible to open aggregated indicator data directly in Excel through the API, using the CSV format output.

We at The DHS Program will be using the Indicator Data API to populate statistics on our own website and our own mobile app, but we look forward to seeing other creative uses of DHS data.

How does the DHS API work?

The basic workings of the API are very simple, even for a non-developer.  A single URL contains all the information the database needs to return data.  For example, try copying the following URL into your browser:


This URL contains all the information the API needs to create a table about a given indicator (in this case Indicator ID – 20171000, which is total fertility rate) and three countries: Burkina Faso (BF), Burundi (BU), and Cameroon (CM).  The resulting web page gives us exactly that:  the Total Fertility rate for the three selected countries as well as some additional information about those surveys.    Don’t have time to search the documentation for country and indicator codes? The query builder allows users to select indicators and countries of interest, preview the output, and obtain the specific API call, that is, the URL needed to request those specific indicators and countries.  If you want a full list of the indicators, try this link.

What are the advantages to using an API?

Connecting to DHS data through the API ensures that you have up-to-date data, even as new countries and indicators are added or data are adjusted.   And while we think STATcompiler and DHS Mobile app are great, they aren’t customized to YOUR work.   The API will allow you to build interactive tools to showcase the data for the countries and areas you work in.

How do I start?

Visit http://api.dhsprogram.com/ for sample data calls, code samples, and all of the survey, country, and indicator documentation needed to communicate with the DHS API.  If you register to be an official DHS API partner you will receive an API key, allowing you a larger number of entries returned per page.  We may also be able to provide assistance in application development, promotion of the apps created by your team, and ongoing communication, allowing your feedback to influence future API development.

Details for developers:

The DHS API uses both a RESTful interface as well as a query-based interface. The API supports JSON, XML, HTML and CSV output formats. For more details, visit the DHS API website or follow our Twitter (@DHSprogramAPI).

The information provided on this Web site is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

The DHS Program, ICF International
530 Gaither Road, Suite 500, Rockville, MD 20850
Tel: +1 (301) 407-6500 • Fax: +1 (301) 407-6501