28 Oct 2015

Spotlight on Implementing Agencies: Cambodia

Names: Phan Chinda, They Kheam, and Chhay Satia of the National Institute of Statistics/Ministry of Planning; Sok Kosal, Loun Mondol, and Lam Phirun of the Directorate General for Health/Ministry of Health; and Sarah Balian of The DHS Program

Country of origin: Cambodia

When not working, favorite place to visit:

Lom Phirun: Washington, DC.

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

Chhay Satia: It’s a nice place with friendly people.

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

Loun Mondol: Food and family.

2014 Cambodia DHSWhat is your favorite DHS final report cover?
All: 2014 Cambodia DHS with Angkor Wat Temple.

Favorite DHS chapter or indicator, and why?
Sok Kosal: Domestic violence, because it’s a new chapter for Cambodia and it specifies the different experiences of violence.

Lam Phirun: Maternal and child mortality, fertility rate, need for family planning, maternal health, and child health because all topics are related to my work/program.

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

Sok Kosal: Child health is an important issue because it alerts us to take attention on child immunizations and illnesses.

Chhay Satia: I believe domestic violence is an important issue for Cambodian culture as it’s not right to treat women badly.

They Kheam: Abortion at home, because this could be caused by a mother or woman’s health problems.

Phan Chinda: Child mortality is a key topic because it is very important for Cambodia’s strategy and policy.

Loun Mondol: Maternal mortality as well as nutritional status for women and children are important indicators because maternal and child health is still a priority issue in my country.

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

Sok Kosal: Cambodia DHS data should be used for program management and policy formation,  especially monitoring and evaluation of Cambodia’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

What have you learned from the DHS experience?

Loun Mondol: How to search for information and data on the DHS website, tools, maps, and the user forum.

21 Oct 2015

Three Perspectives on the DHS Fellows Program from 2015 Fellows


2015 DHS Fellows

2015 DHS Fellows and DHS staff

The DHS Fellows Program brings participants together to strengthen their individual analytical skills and to sustainably increase their university’s capacity for using DHS data. As this year’s Fellows Program drew to a close we asked three Fellows, Allen Kabagenyi (Makerere University), Simona Joseph Simona (University of Zambia), and Clara Ladi Ejembi (Ahmadu Bello University), to reflect on their experience with the Fellows Program and with DHS data.

Overall Fellows Program and workshops

Simona: The 2015 DHS fellowship brought together five wonderful three-member teams from Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. I was a member of a team of participants from the Department of Social Development Studies at the University of Zambia.

Allen: Participants came from diverse backgrounds including: social sciences, medicine, statistics, demography and epidemiology.

Clara: The fellowship program comprised of two workshops and activities we undertook in-country in our institutions. Over the course of the two workshops, facilitated by two very amiable DHS staff and co-facilitated by three previous DHS Fellows, we were given hands-on training on the use of the DHS data in our research work.

Allen: During the first workshop in Kampala, Uganda, we were introduced to the capacity building program, DHS questionnaires, sampling and weighting, online tools, data structure and files among others. Furthermore, we learnt about The DHS Program, what they do, the coverage, target population and mandate.

A subsequent workshop was held in Zambia, where participants learnt about estimation of maternal, infant and child mortality using DHS data and Service Provision Assessment (SPA) tools. During the trainings, we were accorded a chance to present our projects and developed publishable DHS working papers with support from the DHS technical team.

Our achievements

Clara: We sent an abstract which was accepted for presentation at the forthcoming International Conference on Family Planning in Indonesia. We also secured approval for presentation of our research work at the forthcoming national conference of the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria.

Allen: Results from our DHS-research fellowship will be presented in the forthcoming International Conference on Family Planning in Indonesia. It is an honor to have an oral presentation to stakeholders and professionals in the field of reproductive health. Our manuscript is ready for journal submission we are looking forward to having it published.

Simona: We are in the process of editing our paper for the targeted peer reviewed journal. We are also exploring a few other topics and collaborations with a view of preparing more papers and publications based on the DHS dataset.

Capacity strengthening at our university

Allen: Given the number of DHS fellows at Makerere University, plans are underway at the School of Statistics to have DHS data utilization integrated in teaching and research. At the department, there are on-going research projects based on DHS data from colleagues with some manuscripts submitted for review and publication. Masters students at the School of Public Health – Makerere University were excited and showed interest in future use.

Clara: At Ahmadu Bello University, we have been able to sensitize the university management and the university faculty on use of DHS data for teaching and research; and also on the fellowship program so that hopefully, more teams will apply from our institution this year. We have started the process of integrating DHS into our lectures in demography and statistics in the department.

Simona: I am happy to see that our participation in the DHS fellowship is already beginning to impact positively on our colleagues and students in our department through the capacity building plans we have started implementing. It is gratifying to see the level of enthusiasm among colleagues and students regarding the potential of the DHS data. I am positive that going forward, the DHS data will be integrated in our teaching and research activities and eventually yield many more publications.

Benefits of the Fellows Program

Simona: It was fulfilling to see the development of our paper as the Zambian team. The process of preparing it under the guidance of facilitators from The DHS Program and the co-facilitators was rigorous and yet empowering. We have acquired skills that will obviously be invaluable in our careers beyond the DHS fellowship.

Allen: The benefits of the program are countless from learning about The DHS Program, to acquiring skills in data analysis, appreciating the use of DHS data, networking and sharing information. Discussing country specific problems increased our understanding about other countries in the region.

Final words

Allen: It’s no doubt that I would recommend other people to participate in this fellowship as it is one of the best capacity building programs for teaching staff in strengthening their analytical and data utilization skills.

Simona: Personally, the DHS fellowship has been nothing short of inspirational and I am sure that the DHS data will form an integral part of my scholarship henceforth. I would urge eligible scholars in the coming years to grab the opportunity provided by the DHS fellowship.

Clara: Thank you very much DHS, for the opportunity to participate in one of the most enriching training programs I have undertaken in a long time.

We applaud all the 2015 DHS Fellows for their hard work and achievements! Be sure to read their papers, the final products from the 2015 DHS Fellows Program:


Allen KabagenyiAllen Kabagenyi is a THRiVE PhD fellow from Makerere University, School of Statistics and Planning in Collaboration with University of Cambridge-UK. Her PhD research seeks to understand the explanations for the persistent high fertility rates in Uganda and low use of contraception. She lectures in Department of Population studies, School of Statistics and Planning.

Simona Joseph SimonaSimona Joseph Simona is a lecturer at the University of Zambia in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. He was appointed lecturer after completing his master of research (M.Res) degree in sociology and research methods from the University of Glasgow in 2013. His areas of interest are mainly in sociology of health and illness, gender based violence and social science research methods.

Clara Ladi EjembiDr. Clara Ladi Ejembi is a Fellow of the Medical College of Public Health, and works as a Consultant Community Physician with the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital. Her areas of research and activism interests include reproductive health, maternal and child health, primary health care and HIV/AIDS and she has published in these areas.


08 Oct 2015

Social Good Summit 2015: Celebrating the New Sustainable Development Goals

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


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!



06 Oct 2015

From Data Tables to Meaningful Charts: An Introductory Course on Data Visualization

Have you ever seen an infographic that was beautiful, but didn’t have a clear message?

Or wade through a bunch of tables but struggle to see any meaningful patterns and trends?

Ever see a chart you thought was terrible, but couldn’t figure out how to fix it?

Data visualizations are key to disseminating DHS survey results. Whether it’s through charts and maps in print reports, interactive graphs on STATcompiler or the mobile app, or infographics on our social media channels, DHS staff are always hard at work figuring out how best to communicate our results through clear and compelling visualizations.

In recent years, we have noticed an increased demand for data visualization assistance in the field. Our implementing agencies, journalists, and data use partners in Africa and Asia are asking: “How do we visualize our census data?”, “How do you know which kind of chart to use for that indicator?”; and “How can we show these data in an accessible infographic?”.

data viz

Towards that end, DHS staff have contributed to the Global Health eLearning Center’s recently released introductory course on data visualization. This course tackles a lot of strategic and practical information in a 4 step process: identifying
your audience and their context, finding the story in your data, building your visualization, and dissemination and use.

The course pulls from the current expertise in data visualization, from Edward Tufte to Stephanie Evergreen, but repackages it with a global health perspective and with a beginning learner in mind. Global health projects worldwide are expected to make data-driven decisions, to monitor and evaluate their progress, and to report successes to governments and funding agencies. Basic data visualization skills can enhance individual’s and organizations’ abilities to analyze and present their data, leading ultimately to better data use and more efficient global health programming.

Through a realistic case study and a set of commonly used World Bank population indicators, the course introduces concepts such as numeracy, drafting data headlines, smart use of preattentive attributes, matching data stories to the appropriate graph type, and working with a diverse team of experts to develop more complex visualizations such as infographics, maps, and data dashboards.

This basic principles covered in this data visualization eLearning course have also inspired a one day in-person data visualization workshop that DHS staff will be offering in a DHS country for the first later this year. The course is full of hands-on data visualization activities, and participants will leave with practical tools and draft visualizations that they can use in their everyday work.

Want to see great examples of data visualization in global health or browse some great data viz tips? Follow the DataVizHub blog!

data viz 2

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.

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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.