Category Archives: SDGs

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.

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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08 Oct

Social Good Summit 2015: Celebrating the New Sustainable Development Goals

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It’s that time of year again! The end of September marked the UN General Assembly and the Social Good Summit, the latter of which we attended this year (read about our trip last year). We were witness to a remarkable group of speakers, including UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor Amina J. Mohammed, Executive Director of UNFPA Babatunde Osotimehin, and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – just to name a few.

The Social Good Summit

Twesigye Kaguri (Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project), Waislitz Award Winner

We listened to compelling (and at times, heart-wrenching) stories about children, women and girls, and refugees, and heard appeals for gender equality, greater efforts for climate control, and improved funding for and access to education. We were also shown numerous examples of how technology has the potential to aid all of the above. This year’s summit was especially important and relevant to The DHS Program because of the recent adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015.

The SDGs replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which guided poverty reduction, health, education, and equality initiatives from 2000 through 2015. The SDGs that follow aim not only to continue efforts, but to broaden them. Where there were 8 MDGs, there are 17 SDGs with 169 targets. The SDGs are “action oriented,” “universally applicable,” and “take into account different national realities, capacities, and levels of development,” building on the MDGs before them.

Social Good Summit

@DHSprogram (that’s us!) live-tweeting at the Social Good Summit.

The DHS Program supported the measurement of the MDGs initiatives, and our data currently include indicators that will contribute to the monitoring of several SDGs:

  • Zero Hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • Good Health and Well-being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  • Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  • Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
    • DHS data look at many women’s status indicators, including female genital cutting, domestic violence, child marriage, and access to education and other resources.
  • Clean Water and Sanitation: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
    • DHS surveys include data on household drinking water and sanitation facilities.

Throughout the summit, many speakers emphasized data’s key role in monitoring the SDGs and impact on social good:

“Data is at the heart of the SDG agenda.” — Ricardo Fuentes, Executive Director of Oxfam Mexico

“Data is the lifeblood of decision making & key component of SDGs.” — Haile Owusu, Chief Data Scientist at Mashable

“Let’s take data and make it useful for social good”. — Shamina Singh, Executive Director of MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth

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We strongly identify with Target 17.18 to “enhance capacity-building support to developing countries”, and to “increase the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable” disaggregated data. As always, the collection of DHS data is part of a capacity strengthening process. And while DHS surveys aren’t designed to capture all of the SDG targets or each detail, the skills learned through survey implementation – data collection, processing, analysis, and use – contribute to international capacity towards achieving these goals, thus enabling social good!

References:
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/focussdgs.html

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