Category Archives: News

10 Feb

Where Statistics are Beautiful

Hans Rosling created a world where “statistics are beautiful” and data are entertaining. The staff at The DHS Program have always believed these things to be true but found it difficult to convince the masses. And then came Gapminder and the juggernaut of Hans Rosling’s charismatic, informative, and perspective-changing data presentations.

The DHS Program was heartbroken to learn of Hans Rosling’s death earlier this week. DHS has enjoyed a long and enthusiastic relationship with Dr. Rosling. In 2009, The DHS Program and USAID had the honor of welcoming Dr. Rosling as our keynote speaker at the DHS 25th anniversary celebration in Washington, DC. What is particularly striking in watching the video again after 8 years, is the laughter. Before Hans Rosling, no one would have believed that a data presentation could be so engaging and witty while being so insightful.

In addition to being entertaining and informative, Dr. Rosling was exceptionally modest and gracious. He came to the DHS 25th anniversary event at his own cost, and credited USAID and DHS data with his own success. He thanked USAID and the US taxpayers saying, “Nothing in my career would have been possible without DHS data.”

But really we, at The DHS Program, owe Hans Rosling a tremendous debt of gratitude. Dr. Rosling was a great advocate not just for DHS data, but for all data. He understood, better than anyone else, that data are worthless unless they are used. And he succeeded in doing what many of us have attempted and failed:  he made data come alive.  He used the data to expose the many incorrect notions about development that even people working in the field have, and he did it with such unique charm and flair. His presentations inspired people to think in different ways and to take action.

To Hans Rosling’s family, we thank you for sharing Hans with the world, and for so willingly joining his mission to “edutain” us. All of us at The DHS Program mourn the loss of this warm, generous visionary. This week, more than ever, we commit to continue the work that Hans has started, and will be inspired by Hans Rosling’s leadership and ingenuity as we look for new ways to provide the world with actionable, understandable data.

08 Feb

Update: Downloadable Citations for DHS Final Survey Reports Now Available

Is this how you look when you’re compiling your references?
via GIPHY
A recent DHS comparative report included references to 52 Demographic and Health Surveys.  You could spend hours entering bibliographic information, or you can download the citations directly into your reference software.

In 2015, The DHS Program announced the availability of downloadable citations for all DHS analytical reports.

And now, in 2017, we are pleased to announce that the reference information for ALL (more than 300 of them!) DHS, SPA, MIS, and AIS final survey reports are also available for download. As with the previous release, citation information can be downloaded in two ways:

-Individually on each publication page or

-As part of a full library of DHS Final survey reports:

Endnote capture

We’ve also provided some additional information on our recommended citation style, and how to achieve it in the various reference management software. Read more about downloadable citations and citation styles on our website.

25 Jan

A New DHS Questionnaire: Interviewing Fieldworkers

There’s a new survey in town. But it’s probably not what you expect. For 30 years, The DHS Program has trained thousands of fieldworkers to conduct over 300 surveys – but who are these fieldworkers? It is well documented that interviewers affect the quality of the data being collected, for example, in the areas of response rates and response validity. So what interviewer characteristics lead to the best data quality? Have fieldworkers worked on a DHS survey before? Are the fieldworkers similar to the respondents they are interviewing? Until now, answers to these and other questions have not been quantified.

fieldworker

© Blake Zachary, ICF

In 2014, The DHS Program piloted a fieldworker survey in Cambodia. Data were collected from all 114 fieldworkers. We collected information on their age, sex, marital status, religion, educational level, experience with other surveys, and languages spoken. Taken on their own, the survey results may not be all that interesting. About three–quarters of the fieldworkers had been educated beyond secondary school, almost half had been involved in a previous DHS survey, and about one-third had no children. But when these survey results are compared with DHS response rates and results, they may help to explain certain patterns.

Take, for example, the question of child mortality. Our new DHS fieldworker questionnaire asks if an interviewer has had a child who died. Is this interviewer more likely to collect accurate data on infant and child mortality? Or might she try to avoid the topic?

While all interviewers undergo intense training on the DHS questionnaires, the rapport between interviewer and interviewee is integral to data quality. Will survey respondents be more likely to refuse participation in the survey if the interviewer appears to be better educated or too young? Are unmarried interviewers sufficiently comfortable asking questions about sexual practices, family planning, and child birth? Are experienced interviewers better interviewers or are they too jaded to do a good job?

The pilot study in Cambodia proved that collecting information from interviewers was both feasible and potentially informative. Starting with the 2015 Zimbabwe DHS, the fieldworker questionnaire has been a standard part of the survey, and the dataset is released along with the traditional DHS survey dataset.Zimbabwe dataset

The potential research questions are endless. And now, with the first public release of the fieldworker survey dataset as part of the 2015 Zimbabwe DHS, analysts will be able to explore these data themselves.

11 Jan

Measuring the SDGs: The Role of Household Surveys

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have replaced the Millennium Development Goals with broad and lofty aspirations ranging from health, education, and gender equality to clean energy and responsible consumption.

Sustainable Development GoalsBehind each Sustainable Development Goal is a series of targets and each target can be measured by one or more indicators. Many of the targets in the areas of good health, zero hunger, no poverty, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and reduced inequalities can be measured directly from DHS surveys. In fact, in many cases, this information has been collected as part of the DHS for decades, and indicator data already exist.

For example, the second SDG, “Zero Hunger,” is supported by 8 targets. One of these is: “By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons” (Target 2.2).

Target 2.2 of SDGs

This is where DHS comes in. DHS surveys have measured the height and weight of children under 5 since the 1980s. These measurements are compared to international reference standards to calculate stunting and wasting.Trends in Stunting in South Asia

As DHS data in the STATcompiler show, 4 countries in South Asia have made progress in reducing stunting since the 1990s, but stunting in this region is still unacceptably high. Future surveys will assess whether or not they can achieve a 40% reduction (the international target) by 2025.

Similarly, the SDG for Good Health and Well Being includes a target on reducing childhood mortality: “By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births” (Target 3.2).

Childhood mortality data have been collected as a standard part of DHS surveys since 1985. While neonatal and under-five mortality have declined in many DHS countries, the target of 25 under-five deaths for every 1,000 live births is still a long way off for many. In Tanzania, for example, under-five mortality has dropped steadily since 1999 but is not yet near the international target.

Under-five mortality in East Africa

Other SDG-supporting indicators currently collected in DHS surveys include access to safe water and improved toilet facilities, early marriage, family planning demand satisfied, antenatal care coverage, and birth registration. Others are not part of the DHS standard questionnaire but are often collected in optional modules, such as the maternal mortality ratio, female genital cutting, and violence against women.

In addition, new questions were added to the DHS questionnaire at the beginning of DHS-7 (2013-2018). The data resulting from these questions are starting to appear in DHS final reports and respond to SDG indicators such as clean cooking fuel, tobacco use, internet access, bank accounts, and mobile telephone ownership. A new DHS module on accidents and injuries will respond to the SDG indicator on road traffic accidents. A full list of the DHS-related SDG indicators can be found on the SDGs page of the DHS website.

Demand for Family Planning videoBut as always, collecting data is not enough. The DHS Program is also working to make the DHS-related SDGs easier to find, interpret, and use. This past year we released a video tutorial on the complicated “Demand for Family Planning Satisfied” indicator, and worked with partner Blue RasterDemand for Family Planning video to create an SDGs Story Map.

In the coming year, you will see a standard SDGs table for the final reports, addition of an SDGs tag to facilitate location of SDGs in the STATcompiler, and expansion of the SDGs page on our website.

Stay tuned as we develop these tools. And in the meantime, we’ll be out in the field, collecting the data the world needs to monitor progress towards sustainable development.

21 Dec

Video: Best of DHS 2016

Take a look back at the highlights of The DHS Program from 2016…

The DHS Program welcomed several new staff members:


via GIPHY

The 2014 Lesotho DHS final report was released using a new final report format:


via GIPHY

Faster data, including the model datasets and bulk downloading of datasets using a download manager:


via GIPHY

French STATcompiler and Mobile App:


via GIPHY

Surveys, surveys, surveys:


via GIPHY

9 Regional Capacity Strengthening Workshops:


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And The DHS Program produced more than 80 publications:


via GIPHY

We hope you continue to follow us throughout 2017!

Watch the full video below:

 

16 Nov

From National to Local: A New Way to Leverage DHS Data

In DHS survey final reports, data are presented on a national or first-level administrative sub-national level. However, this is usually not the level at which program planning and decision making are truly happening. To support more decentralized decision making at lower administrative levels, data need to be presented on a more disaggregated level.

The DHS Program is producing a standard set of spatially modeled map surfaces for each population-based survey for a select list of indicators that provide smaller area estimates of data. Geostatistics are used to predict (interpolate) the indicator value for unsampled areas based on data from sampled data locations. DHS creates standardized modeled map surfaces using DHS survey data along with global covariate datasets. Currently, sets of standard surfaces are available for 16 surveys. Spatial data packages and stand-alone maps are available for download through The DHS Program’s Spatial Data Repository.

How can modeled map surfaces be used?

These new spatially modeled surfaces can help in several ways to improve decision making for many development sectors that include health, population, nutrition, and water and sanitation programs on multiple levels. Users can combine the maps with other resources to support:

  1. Monitoring and evaluation: analysis and evaluation of past initiatives (impact analysis) or understanding existing situations
  2. Program planning: future planning of appropriate programs and policies

Data in the modeled surfaces can be used to evaluate past programs or to better understand existing situations. Such evaluations can help to understand deviations from the norm, attribute cause, or to contribute to impact evaluations, which analyze what would have happened to the population of an area if a program had not been implemented.

Program managers can also use modeled surfaces to plan, target, and develop interventions and programs that aim to improve situations in targeted geographic areas. Interventions can be targeted more precisely, saving money, time, and human resources in the search for the most effective outcomes.

The matrix below shows potential approaches for monitoring and evaluating past and planning future programs using modeled surfaces.

This matrix is by no means comprehensive, and it is expected that map users will come up with many more potential uses after analyzing their particular situation and maps for their country.

To read more, please see the Spatial Analysis Report 14, “Guidance for Use of The DHS Program Modeled Map Surfaces.” The report delivers more in-depth information on what modeled surfaces The DHS Program is creating, as well as an explanation of their creation process. In addition, the report provides guidance on limitations and assumptions.

The DHS Program is looking forward to seeing how groups will use this new data product to enhance their activities. There is enormous potential for innovative uses of these modeled surfaces beyond those discussed in the report. Users are encouraged to submit ideas and case studies to The DHS Program (spatialdata@dhsprogram.com) as only a large community of users who share their experiences will fully expose the maps’ potential.


Aileen Marshall is the Knowledge Management/Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist at The DHS Program. She is responsible for planning, development, implementation and evaluation of the KM strategy, KM activities as well as the project-wide SharePoint site. Additionally, she is involved in measuring and evaluating capacity strengthening activities at DHS and works closely with all teams to ensure knowledge at DHS is captured, stored and shared efficiently among staff. Aileen holds an MA in English Linguistics from the Westfaelische Wilhelms-University in Muenster, Germany, and an MLIS from the University of South Carolina.

Trinadh Dontamsetti is the Health Geographic Analyst for The DHS Program. He contributes to geospatial analysis, mapmaking, and geographic data processing activities. His research interests include geospatial interpolation, tuberculosis, and vector arthropod-borne diseases.

 

Clara R. Burgert is the GIS Coordinator for The DHS Program. She oversees all  geographic data, mapping, and geospatial analysis activities at The DHS Program.  Additionally, she facilitates workshops in partner countries on using maps for better decision making using open source GIS software.

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02 Nov

Enfin, STATcompiler et l’Appli Mobile du DHS Program disponibles en français

L’attente est finie! Le STATcompiler et l’Appli Mobile du DHS Program sont désormais disponibles en français.  Saviez-vous que 30 % des enquêtes du DHS Program sont réalisées dans pays francophones ? Notre objectif est d’augmenter l’utilisation de nos données par nos collègues francophones.  Ces deux outils placent plus de 250 enquêtes de 90+ pays au bout de vos doigts et ils satisferont vos besoins des données démographiques et de santé numériques.

Le STATcompiler permet aux utilisateurs de créer des tableaux personnalisés et visualiser les données avec des histogrammes, graphiques linéaires, et cartes thématiques. Arrivé à la page d’accueil de STATcompiler, les utilisateurs peuvent choisir leur langue préférée: Page d'accueilfrançais ou anglais. Si vous êtes en milieu francophone, les paramètres de STATcompiler choisiront automatiquement le français comme la langue de défaut, ainsi que l’anglais pour ceux en milieu anglophone. N’inquiétez pas, vous pouvez toujours changer la langue en sélectionnant  « English » ou « Français »  comme le graphique à gauche indique.

 

Commencer en choisissant les indicateurs et les pays qui vous intéressent. Un tableau sera produit avec les données que vous avez choisies.

Tableau et indicateur

 Après, visualiser ces données avec des histogrammes, graphiques linéaires, et cartes thématiques. Voilà, une carte des ménages qui disposent d’électricité.

Carte

L’Appli Mobile présente 125 indicateurs pour toutes les enquêtes du DHS Program, y compris la désagrégation par des caractéristiques sociodémographiques, telles que régions infranationales, niveau d’instruction et quintiles de bien-être économique. L’Appli Mobile permet aux utilisateurs à explorer par pays ou par indicateur pour voir les tendances et les comparaisons entre les pays. Vous trouvez-vous loin d’une connection d’internet? L’appli est aussi disponible pour l’accès en mode déconnectée.

appli3

promptLes utilisateurs actuels de l’Appli seront avertis par un message sur l’écran d’accueil de l’appli qui indique qu’elle est maintenant disponible en français et fournit des instructions pour comment changer les paramètres des langues. Pour les nouveaux utilisateurs, l’Appli ouvrira la premère fois selon les paramètres de langue de l’appareil. Les utilisateurs anglophone pourront tous basculer facilement entre les deux langues dans les paramètres de l’Appli.

Télécharger l’Appli Mobile gratuitement pour les appareils Android et iOs.

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05 Oct

Social Good Summit 2016: How DHS data can help measure progress towards meeting the Global Goals

We were fortunate to have attended the UN Foundation’s Social Good Summit again which, through a variety of vibrant speakers from US UN Ambassador Samantha Power to actor and activist Alec Baldwin, emphasized the recently-adopted 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals.

While we thoroughly enjoyed all of the sessions and speakers, we were particularly moved listening to Joyce Banda on challenges for women in public office, advocates from the Malala Fund inspiring conversation about the importance of education for girls and refugees, and Memory Banda describing life for girls in Malawi and taking a stand against child marriage.

At this year’s summit, it was again made clear that the collection of quality data is vital. Data will measure progress towards the SDGs. As DHS data supported collection and reporting of data for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is expected to contribute to the measurement of as many as 13 of the 17 SDGs.

Since 2013, before the SDGs were officially determined and announced, The DHS Program was involved in dozens of meetings to determine the feasibility of collecting data required to measure SDG indicators in DHS surveys. After careful review of all 230 SDG indicators, we highlighted 86 that are population-based and feasible through household or facility surveys.  Of these, we have classified 32 that are already in our questionnaires and modules, and 20 that require minor additions or changes to questions and reporting. Below are just a few examples:

Goal 3: Proportion of women age 15-49 who have their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods. Learn more>>

Goal 5: Proportion of women age 15-49 who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use, and reproductive health care. Learn more>>

Goal 6: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services. Learn more>>

Goal 7: Proportion of population with access to electricity. Learn more>>

Goal 16: Proportion of children under 5 whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age. Learn more>>

By the time the next summit rolls around, we hope to have integrated those indicators that are feasible and practical for collection in a DHS survey into all DHS tools. In the meantime, you can watch the 2016 Social Good Summit live stream and check out what we were saying during the summit.

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20 Sep

Making over the DHS Final Report: Formal and Academic to Colorful and User-Friendly

The new report features bulleted text and more than 80 color maps and graphs

Have you seen the new DHS Final Report style?  In June, the 2014 Lesotho DHS was published and is the first report to try out our new format featuring color graphics, maps, bulleted text, and standard indicator definition boxes.

While minor formatting and style changes have been introduced over the past 30 years, the DHS Final Report of 2013 looked much as it did in the 1990s.  In 2013, a more dramatic change was proposed:  to create a more modern and user-friendly report.  In 2015, the Lesotho Ministry of Health (MOH) 2014 DHS team agreed to be the first survey to utilize the new DHS final report style.

I had the pleasure of being in the capital city of Maseru to collect feedback on the new style.  I met with the report authors from the MOH, academics, program managers, donors, and UN agencies.  The positive response was overwhelming: everyone agreed that the new report was far more accessible, less intimidating, and would lead to better use of DHS data to inform decision  making.

Each chapter is introduced by a box of key findings, highlighted key trends, and patterns in the data

Leutsoa Matsoso, one of the report authors, commented, “This one is easier to get straight to the point.  I know the first [LDHS report] from 2004; it was also good, but there was a lot of ingredients before you get to the meat . . . for policy makers, for decision makers, it’s easy to see…Here [in the old report], if you take too long explaining, nobody ends up reading that information.”

Some of the more technical, academic stakeholders had expressed concern that a more user-friendly report might detract from its usefulness for analysts, but the new report style meets the needs of both audiences.  So have no fears: all of the DHS tables are still included in this report.  Mahlape Ramoseme, Director of the Health Planning and Statistics Department at the MOH explains, “You go [to the tables] if you want more than what is provided here [in the text], but the key findings give you what’s important . . .  Even the color, it catches the eye, you really want to read it.  It’s not too intimidating.”

Key definitions are provided in boxes, making them easier to understand and reference

Ultimately, the goal of The DHS Program is to provide assistance in the collection and use of data.  The 2014 LDHS data are already being used by the highest levels of government.  Mr. Matsoso credits the new report style with increasing ownership and use in Lesotho: “Now that Parliament has taken notice of the LDHS, and now that they themselves can see the trends and patterns without having to interpret tables, they will say, ‘we want to fund that because we want to know what is really happening.’   They will see the impact.”

And it sounds like the effects of the report change will carry beyond even the DHS in Lesotho.  Matsoso reported, “It was also capacity building for us, because we are used to writing reports but we normally do it in the narrative way.  This one we had to critically talk to the tables, talk to the data, try to find trends…This was very positive for us, because now when we prepare reports we will focus on the critical points.”

Many of the upcoming DHS surveys will be utilizing this new format piloted in Lesotho.  The DHS Program is still collecting feedback on the new Final Report style, and will incorporate comments into subsequent versions.  So explore the report today!  If you have feedback, please email Erica Nybro at Erica.Nybro@icfi.com.

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07 Sep

Get ready for the new semester with The DHS Program

It’s that time of year again – back-to-school time! Whether you are a student preparing for the new semester or just eager to learn, we have compiled a handy list of tools and resources for you. Feel free to bookmark and revisit this page when you feel inspired or studious!

If you only have five minutes:

  • Download the mobile app for 24/7 access to DHS data (if you need some convincing, read this for details)
  • Do a quick trend analysis or pull up a visualization from STATcompiler
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be informed of new and useful content, or just to say hi!

If you have an infinite amount of time and want to learn all there is to The DHS Program:

number3If you are ready to start analyzing DHS datasets:

If you need help with your research project:

If you are geographically focused:gis day 3

 

If you are the creative type:

If you prefer to get social: 

This list of resources should keep you busy for now! We will continue to update this post as we add more resources. Are you looking for a particular resource but don’t see it? Do you have ideas for other resources we can provide? Share them in the comments below, or send us an email at feedback@dhsprogram.com.

Our website also has a list of free student resources for you to explore.

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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
530 Gaither Road, Suite 500, Rockville, MD 20850
Tel: +1 (301) 407-6500 • Fax: +1 (301) 407-6501
dhsprogram.com