27 May 2015

How Many Partners Does it Take to Run The DHS Program?


The DHS Program Partners together in 2015.

Most people don’t know just how many collaborating institutions are involved in the day-to-day implementation of The DHS Program.  ICF International is the prime contractor for The DHS Program.  But 20% of us who sit at ICF’s office in Rockville, Maryland, are actually employed by other partner organizations.  Who are these partners?

Partners from Vysnova, JHUCCP, ICF, PATH, and USAID comparing maps, in “Good Map/Bad Map”

Staff from Vysnova, JHUCCP, ICF, PATH, and USAID comparing maps, in “Good Map/Bad Map.”

  • Avenir Health (formerly the Futures Institute) specializes in data analysis for decision making and planning. Avenir Health staff are key to The DHS Program analysis team.
  • Blue Raster is our web and GIS partner. They are instrumental in the development of the website, STATcompiler, mobile app, and API, and support mapping activities at The DHS Program.
  • EnCompass is our partner on capacity strengthening. They bring expertise in adult learning, elearning, building institutional capacity, and curriculum design.
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs brings a long history of communicating and disseminating complex health information to a wide range of audiences.
  • Kimetrica is our only partner based in Africa, and supports DHS survey data processing and survey implementation.
  • PATH brings expertise in innovation in improving global health through their support of The DHS Program’s nutrition, laboratory and biomarker work.
  • Vysnova Partners provides technical services in many areas of global health. For The DHS Program, Vysnova provides staff with data processing and survey management skills.
EnCompass and Blue Raster staff debate how to assess an audience in the data visualization session

EnCompass and Blue Raster staff debate how to assess an audience in the data visualization session.

Twice a year, staff from all 8 institutions and members of The DHS Program’s USAID management team sit together for a day of information sharing.  This spring’s “The DHS Program Partners’ Meeting” featured presentations on updates to the DHS-7 questionnairemethodological research on data quality in DHS surveys, results from a study on nutrition and WASH indicators,  results from the 2013-14 Malawi SPA survey, an update on recent training workshops, and the “world premiere” of the newest DHS Program tutorial YouTube video on the contraceptive prevalence rate.  Several DHS survey managers provided personal perspectives on how Ebola affected survey operations in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.  In addition, partners participated in hands-on activities on social media, data visualization, and mapping.

The participants summed up everyone’s sentiments quite well with the tweets they proposed in the social media session:

Sunita Kishor, DHS Program Director, drafts a Tweet in the social media session

Sunita Kishor, DHS Program Director, drafts a Tweet in the social media session. #DHSpartners #SunitasFamily

Dance with us @DHSprogram. We have great partners. #DHSpartners

Partnering to bring data & knowledge to YOU! #dataispower #DHSpartners #usedata

#DHSpartners’ family reunion today #SunitasFamily

@ICFI and #DHSpartners shine @DHSprogram.

Who ya gonna call? @DHSprogram! #DHSpartners #SunitasFamily #DataDrivesDecisions

@DHSprogram brings together #DHSpartners for knowledge sharing & innovation.


20 May 2015

Your Questions on Weighting Answered: The DHS Program User Forum and Webinar


The DHS Program regularly gets questions from users about sampling and weighting. “How do I apply sample weights in multilevel analyses?” or “What is the difference between self weighting data and non-self weighting data?” On June 3, 2015, three DHS experts will answer users’ questions on “Weights and other adjustments for the survey design” in our first ever live webinar. Drs. Tom Pullum, Ruilin Ren, and Mahmoud Elkasabi will be discussing common questions about sampling and weighting in DHS data collection and analysis.

Launched in 2013, The DHS Program User Forum was created to provide a transparent discussion platform for users of DHS data to ask questions and receive feedback from the broader community and DHS Program staff. To date, more than 1,700 users have registered on the user forum and posted over 3,000 messages. To quote one registered user:

“The forum is helping millions of DHS data users around the world to understand data and sort data management issues. I personally managed to merge DHS data with the help of the forum contributor.”

MemUser Forum Screen shotbers can post questions in dozens of threads in three main categories: Topics (i.e. child health, mortality, and wealth index), Countries (India and Bangladesh are currently  the most active), or Data (merging, sampling and weighting, geographic data, dataset use
in Stata and SPSS). While we encourage users to answer each other’s questions, The DHS Program staff  members do moderate the forum and provide answers when others do not. But increasingly, members are often able to find the answer to their question simply by searching the 3,000+ messages that are already in the forum. Registered users say:

“I’m likely to post again to the User Forum because, when I post not only do I get a quick and helpful answer, but also it lets me see what other users have posted and been given as answers, which opens my eyes and mind to other future research.”

Participate in the User Forum and the Webinar on June 3, 2015
To post a question on weighting for the webinar, simply visit the User Forum thread “Sampling and Weighting Webinar June 2015.” Then, on June 3, 2015, at 10am EST (UTC/GMT-4) join us live in our Adobe Connect room. A recording of the webinar will be available on the User Forum for those who cannot participate live, and a summary of the questions and answers will also be entered into the User Forum as individual messages for future reference.

06 May 2015

Spotlight on Implementing Agencies: The Gambia

(L-R) Gambian visitors Saikou Trawally, Alieu Saho, Momodou L. Cham  & DHS staff member Zhuzhi Moore at The  DHS Program Headquarters

(L-R) Gambian visitors Saikou Trawally, Alieu Saho, Momodou L. Cham & DHS Program staff member Zhuzhi Moore at The  DHS Program Headquarters in Rockville, MD

Name(s):  Saikou Trawally, Alieu Saho, and Momodou L. Cham

Country of origin:  The Gambia

Position titles and organizations:  Officials of The Gambia Bureau of Statistics and National Population Commission Secretariat

When not working, favorite place to visit:  Shopping sites, relatives and friends, and site seeing cultural centers.

First time you worked with The DHS Program’s data:

Momodou: I first used the Data in 2001 for my MSC. Medical Demography Dissertation at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases, University of London.

What has been the nicest surprise visiting The DHS Program headquarters? 

The infrastructure, expertise of staff, the wonderful reception, and the knowledge sharing.

What do you miss most about home when you are here? Family

What is the biggest difference between The DHS Program headquarters office and your office at home?

Reliable communication facilities, furniture, the office space and environment.

2013 Gambia DHS

2013 The Gambia DHS

What is your favorite DHS final report cover?  2013 The Gambia DHS cover with a green background with flora and fauna in the middle of the page.

Favorite DHS chapter or indicator, and why?

Mortality (infant, child, and maternal mortality) and HIV/AIDS. This is the first time we are getting accurate data on these indicators. The data will help The Gambia know the level of progress towards addressing such issues.

What population or health issue are you most passionate about?  Why?

Reproductive health is important because the health of the mother determines the health of the newborn.

How do you hope the DHS data from your country will be used?  

The data should be used for planning, monitoring, and informing national policies on health and population.

What have you learned from the DHS experience?

We have learned a lot about survey design, sampling, data collection and processing, analysis, and producing a standard technical report that is internationally comparable.

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

Anthropometry measurement (height and weight) is a core component of DHS surveys that is used to generate indicators on nutritional status. The Biomarker Questionnaire now includes questions on clothing and hairstyle interference on measurements for both women and children for improved interpretation.