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.

Written by Sunita Kishor

Sunita KishorDr. Kishor is Director of The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program. She is a gender expert, demographer, and survey specialist with 20 years of experience in the collection of high-quality gender data in developing countries. She has been responsible for the design, implementation, and analysis of questionnaire modules on women's empowerment and domestic violence in population-based surveys. Dr. Kishor works with DHS staff and stakeholders to integrate gender into implementation and research activities, develops gender-sensitive indicators and dissemination materials, and helps develop and update the Gender Corner of the DHS Web site. She also co-managed the third National Family Health Survey in India, a DHS survey of more than 100,000 households, with 200,000 individuals interviewed in all Indian states. Dr. Kishor has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Maryland College Park.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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