Category Archives: Fellows

31 Mar 2021

Reflections from the 2020 DHS Fellows Program

The DHS Fellows Program builds the long-term institutional capacity of universities in DHS countries to train students and faculty to analyze DHS data. Since 2011, the DHS Fellows Program has trained more than 150 researchers from over 40 universities in 25 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Typically, Fellows attend two separate in-person workshops, prepare publication-quality research papers in teams using DHS datasets, and implement capacity strengthening activities at their home universities.

For the 2020 DHS Fellows Program, a cohort of university faculty from Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Jordan, and Pakistan convened for the first workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2020. The second workshop, scheduled to begin in April 2020, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DHS Program worked quickly to convert the second workshop into online activities. A remote teaching space was created on The DHS Program Learning Hub with presentations and assignments for the Fellows to complete. Virtual meetings were held with each Fellows team to discuss drafts of their working papers.

The 2020 DHS Fellows produced working papers that addressed a variety of research topics including:

As of this blog’s publication, the teams from Jordan and Cameroon have published their working papers in peer-reviewed journals. Visit The DHS Program Fellows page to see all DHS Fellows’ working papers and publications in peer-reviewed journals.

We interviewed teams of 2020 Fellows from the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh and the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry in Guinea about the virtual DHS capacity strengthening activities conducted for faculty and students.


For their working paper, Nazmul Alam, Mohammad Manir Hossain Mollah, and Sharin Shajahan Naomi wrote about the prevalence and determinants of adolescent fertility. They conducted two virtual capacity strengthening sessions via Zoom, one for 21 faculty members, researchers, and development practitioners, and another session for 25 students. In the sessions, the Fellows introduced participants to The DHS Program, reviewed basic characteristics of DHS data, and highlighted how one can effectively generate new ideas from available DHS data without needing to conduct field research, which has become difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Although we were a bit hesitant about the outcome of online sessions, they appeared to be beneficial…faculty members from social sciences, public health, and natural sciences joined…after the workshop, we got very positive feedback.”

Mohammad Manir Hossain Mollah, Sharin Shajahan Naomi, and Nazmul Alam, 2020 DHS Fellows from the Asian University for Women. “We believed that we could deliver the outcome despite the challenges of the pandemic due to our teamwork and mutual understanding.”


Bienvenu Salim Camara, Sidikiba Sidibé, and Nafissatou Dioubate wrote about non-use of contraceptives among married women. Days before their planned capacity strengthening presentations, Guinea declared a health emergency due to COVID-19. Universities were closed and gatherings of more than 20 people were prohibited, so the Fellows recorded video presentations introducing The DHS Program survey questionnaires and datasets and uploaded them to Google drive. Students watched the videos at their own pace and emailed the Fellows with questions. Now some students are using DHS data in their research. “One of my students is currently working on his Master’s thesis in maternal health using DHS data, and I am supporting him in the data analysis,” explains Camara. Dioubate notes, “I am proud that I was able to pass on the knowledge gained from the DHS Fellows Program to others and show the opportunities that DHS data can offer.”

Sidikiba Sidibé, Nafissatou Dioubate, and Bienvenu Salim Camara, 2020 DHS Fellows from the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry. “My favorite part was the capacity building in DHS database analysis. This allowed me to undertake other analyses on nutrition indicators using Guinea datasets (food practices for infants and young children) as well as capacity building activities for my students,” notes Sidibé.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the DHS Fellows Program was suspended for 2021. In the meantime, take open courses available on The DHS Program Learning Hub and watch for upcoming Workshop and Training Announcements.

20 Nov 2019

From Participant to Facilitator: DHS Fellows from Myanmar and Egypt

The 2020 DHS Fellows Program is currently accepting applications from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Maldives, Pakistan, Philippines, Tajikistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zambia. Apply to join us for the DHS Fellows Program in 2020. The deadline to apply is November 24, 2019.


In this blog post, we interview two DHS Fellows who served as DHS Program workshop facilitators.

Dr. Kyaw Swa Mya is an Associate Professor and Head of Department of Biostatistics and Medical Demography at the University of Public Health, Yangon, Myanmar and Mr. Ehab Sakr is an assistant lecturer in the department of Demography and Bio-statistics at the Faculty of Graduate Studies for Statistical Research in Cairo University in Egypt. Both Fellows were both co-facilitators for the DHS Fellows Program (2019 and 2018, respectively) in addition to co-facilitating other DHS Program capacity strengthening workshops.

When was your first experience with the DHS Fellows Program?

KSM: In 2018, I was selected as part of a three-member team for the 2018 DHS Fellows Program from the University of Public Health, Yangon. We were the first Fellows from Myanmar where only one DHS survey has been conducted in 2015-2016. In Myanmar, most public health professionals, including myself, were not aware of DHS surveys.

ES: In January 2017, my colleagues and I were selected to be the first Egyptian team to participate in the 2017 DHS Fellows Program. I was eager for this opportunity because I used DHS data in my studies when I specialized in demography 17 years ago.

What was your experience as a DHS Fellows Program participant?

KSM: The Fellows Program provided many opportunities for the participants. First, we learned how DHS data was systematically collected and prepared for data users. Second, the Fellows Program improved our data management and analytical skills using STATA, as well as report writing skills. Third, as a requirement of the Fellows Program, we conducted capacity building activities at our University. These activities raised awareness among the Myanmar government and NGO public health professionals about using DHS data and DHS resources during planning, implementation, and evaluation of their health programs. We also disseminated the findings to stakeholders who impact policy implementation. Finally, we produced a DHS working paper that was published in the PLOS One journal.

ES: The Fellows Program was a great opportunity to enhance my knowledge about survey tools and improve my skills to use DHS data more efficiently and effectively. We were exposed to different cultures and academic trends from five other teams around the world. It’s also worth mentioning that implementing the capacity building project at our home university enriched my technical, teaching, and coaching skills. In two workshops facilitated by Dr. Wenjuan Wang and Dr. Shireen Assaf, we learned to use DHS data tools and techniques when analyzing DHS data. My teammates, Prof. Emeritus Mona Khalifa and Dr. Wafaa Hussein, and I wrote a DHS working paper titled “Changes in Contraceptive Use Dynamics in Egypt: Analysis of the 2008 and 2014 Demographic and Health Surveys.”

What was your experience as a facilitator?

KSM: The DHS Program gave me a second opportunity to participate in the DHS Fellows Program as a co-facilitator. I am thankful to The DHS Program for this opportunity. It was quite a challenging experience to be a co-facilitator. As a Fellow, I only needed to focus on my research topic, but as co-facilitator, I needed to learn all the research topics of participating countries. Moreover, I had to prepare lecture topics and this helped me become more familiar and confident with DHS methodology, analytical skills, and interpretation of the results.

ES: July 2019 was another great moment when I was asked to co-facilitate a workshop in Jordan on producing report tables using SPSS syntax at the Department of Statistics. It was a great experience communicating with lovely and skilled trainees, and we adapted to situations that forced us to customize the agenda of the workshop to suit the skills and knowledge of the trainees.

What impact has the DHS Fellows Program made on you?

KSM: The DHS Fellows Program changed my career, and DHS data has become a core part of my life. Since 2018, I published two journal articles and presented two oral presentations at the 10th and 11th International Conference on Public Health among Greater Mekong Sub-Regional Countries. One of my Masters in Public Health (MPH) students received a degree and I reviewed two master theses of two junior colleagues using DHS data and they achieved their master’s degree from foreign countries. I also received some emails from different countries asking for help with DHS coding and analysis challenges, and I helped them as far as I could. In addition, three of my MPH students prepared their proposals using DHS data this year. Myanmar is now realizing the data quality and accuracy of DHS indicators, so, not only academicians and students but also program managers and policymakers are using DHS indicators in relevant situations.

The DHS Fellow Program is one of the best and most effective programs that I have ever attended. I am grateful to USAID for providing financial and technical support to collect and disseminate quality data to monitor and evaluate population, health, and nutrition programs for developing countries.

ES: The DHS Fellows Program was life-changing and it gave me the opportunity to deepen my scientific and practical knowledge in an international, inspiring, creative, and diversified environment. Special thanks to USAID, The DHS Program team, and all the people I mentioned above. I learned a lot from them and hope to continue collaborating with them in the future.

Photo caption: Facilitators and participants from the 2018 DHS Fellows Data Analysis Workshop. ©ICF

Written by: Kyaw Swa Mya and Ehab Sakr

Dr. Kyaw Swa Mya is a Biostatistician. He is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Demography, University of Public Health, Yangon, Myanmar. He holds a master’s degree in Public Health in Biostatistics. He is a member of the Institutional Review Board of the University of Public Health, Yangon. He currently works as a module supervisor of Diploma in Research Methodology and Research Ethics program conducted in the University of Medicine (I). His research interests are maternal and child health, nutrition, and non-communicable diseases.

Mr. Ehab Sakr is an assistant lecturer in the department of Demography and Bio-statistics, Faculty of Graduate Studies for Statistical Research, Cairo University in Egypt. He holds a master’s degree in Statistics from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science. His thesis theme was related to the levels and trends of age at first marriage for women in Egypt. He taught and consulted on various topics related to population dynamics and development and is currently a Ph.D. student.

06 Nov 2019

Reflections from the 2019 DHS Fellows Program: Senegal

The 2020 DHS Fellows Program is currently accepting applications from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Jordan, Maldives, Pakistan, Philippines, Tajikistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zambia. The deadline to apply is November 24th.


The DHS Fellows Program was an opportunity for us to analyze DHS data, and we are particularly fortunate to live in Senegal, which released the Senegal Continuous Survey, providing nationally representative data annually between 2012 and 2018.

Prior to the Fellows Program we used DHS reports and results without knowing the methodology, data collection, analysis, and reporting work that was behind it. The possibility of using the data for secondary analysis was also unknown to us. The DHS Fellows Program allowed us to master the DHS survey structure, sampling design, and understand how to analyze population-based survey data using Stata software. The Fellows Program was a learning process, but it was also an opportunity for culture-sharing with other participants from diverse backgrounds such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. Each group has advised the others in their work so everyone can present the best possible results. The co-facilitators of the Fellows program were former DHS Fellows and this gave us an opportunity to see Fellows alumni presenting their experiences with the program.

Click to view the 2019 DHS Fellows Facebook photo album

Thanks to the Fellows Program, we are better equipped to use this data again in other future work and have shared it with our colleagues during our capacity building activities. Some colleagues are already hoping to participate in future Fellows Program or other DHS workshops. This program not only allowed us to better understand the DHS surveys, but also make in-depth statistical analyses and to use DHS data to write analysis reports.

Download the DHS Working Paper authored by the Senegalese DHS Fellows participants, Coverage and Associated Factors for HIV Screening in Senegal: Further Analysis of the 2017 Demographic and Health Survey.

We were one of the first Francophone teams to participate in the Fellows Program, which initially caused us some apprehension.  The call for applications required a skilled level of English as the course is taught in English, but thanks to the availability of our facilitators, Shireen, Wenjuan, and co-facilitators, Kyaw and Gedefaw, we did very well!

We could never thank ICF and The DHS Program enough for this amazing experience. In addition, we formed a real family with teams from other countries. We strongly recommend that researchers from French-speaking countries submit their applications for the 2020 DHS Fellows Program.


Featured photo caption: Dr. Khardiata Diallo Mbaye, Prof. Cheikh Tidiane Ndour, and Dr. Ndeye Aïssatou Lakhe at the 2019 DHS Fellows Report Writing Workshop. ©ICF

Written by: Ndeye Aïssatou Lakhe, Prof. Cheikh Tidiane Ndour, and Dr. Khardiata Diallo Mbaye

Dr. Ndeye Aïssatou Lakhe is a medical doctor specializing in infectious and tropical diseases. She currently works as a lecturer in infectious diseases at the Faculty of Medicine of Dakar. She is also a practicing MD at the Clinic of Infectious Diseases at Fann Teaching Hospital, the third largest hospital in Dakar. She is the head of the Infection and Prevention Control (IPC) committee of the hospital. Her interests are in policy making, particularly in IPC and health program evaluation.

Prof. Cheikh Tidiane Ndour is a Professor of infectious and tropical diseases, working in the Department of Diseases at the Fann University Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar. He has been the head of the AIDS and STI Control Division of the Ministry of Health for the last three years. His current focus is the implementation of innovative strategies to achieve the 90-90-90 strategy: identify 90% of people infected by HIV, put 90% of identified HIV-positive individuals on antiretroviral treatment, and ensure that 90% of those on ART have undetectable viral loads, in accordance with commitments to the international community.

Dr . Khardiata Diallo Mbaye specializes in Infectious and tropical diseases. She works as a teacher/researcher at the University Cheikh Anta DIOP at the Faculty of Medicine of Dakar, and as a physician at the Clinic of Infectious Diseases at Fann Teaching Hospital. She also specializes in public health.

29 Oct 2018

Reflections from the 2018 DHS Fellows Program: Myanmar Team

We are pleased to announce that the 2019 DHS Fellows Program is currently accepting applications from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Learn more from the 2018 DHS Fellows Program Myanmar team as they reflect on their experience with the program and apply to join us for the global DHS Fellows Program in 2019.

Apply for the 2019 DHS Fellows Program

We are a three-member team from the University of Public Health, Yangon, Myanmar accepted into the 2018 Myanmar DHS Fellows Program.

Through the program, we learned that The DHS Program provides scientifically sound, affluent, and nationally representative data. DHS data are great additions to the limited data sources in Myanmar. Therefore, it is important that Myanmar researchers use these data effectively. In addition to the survey data, The DHS Program also provides reports and web tools (e.g. STATcompiler) that are useful for teaching, presentations, and writing papers. The program also provided us with a better understanding of DHS data, how to use data, select data, and analysis methods with STATA. The process of producing the working paper and preparing it for a peer-reviewed journal was also a reinforcing, challenging, and motivating task for us. We are grateful to the facilitators, Dr. Wenjuan Wang and Dr. Shireen Assaf, and other DHS experts for reviewing, commenting and editing our paper and we have submitted our article to the PLoS One journal for review. Overall, we had great experiences to share:

“I have some experiences of secondary data analysis using large datasets so, I thought that data analysis using DHS data might be easy for me but, it was quite challenging to understand DHS data structure, sampling and weighting procedure and, survey data analysis using STATA. The Fellows Program greatly improved our data management and analytical skills. I now realize the DHS data’s quality, validity, and usefulness and I am using DHS resources to teach my masters students.”

– Dr. Kyaw Swa Mya

“When I attended a Ph.D. program in Mahidol University (Thailand), many international post-graduate students used their country DHS data for their master thesis. At that time, Myanmar students faced a lot of difficulties with data collection. I am very glad that Myanmar has our own DHS data as a resource. In the past, due to inadequate resources (money, time and data), Myanmar researchers had few published articles. In the future, by analyzing DHS data, not only for students but also faculty members, researchers and government officials can produce many articles which will benefit the country.”

– Dr. Aung Tin Kyaw

“I have never used STATA software or secondary data analysis before the program. But after the training, the experience of using STATA and secondary data analysis was very advanced and not inferior to primary data. The program is practical for the use of data accompanied by paper writing and output. I plan to do further paper writing using DHS data.”

– Dr. Thandar Tun

After the program, we successfully conducted a capacity-building program, “Use of DHS data in STATA,” at our University to share our knowledge with 40 faculty staff from four medical universities and taught them how to use DHS data. As a result, lecturers from different medical universities, researchers and public health professionals are eager to generate articles using DHS data. Moreover, they committed to using the information accessible from valuable DHS resources such as DHS working papers, published articles, and STATcompiler.

DHS Myanmar Fellows held a data use workshop for over 40 participants, including university faculty, graduate students, and non-governmental organization staff.

In addition to completing our working paper, we conducted a dissemination seminar at our University to share the findings with a wide range of academic audiences including persons from the Ministry of Health and Sports. Stakeholders discussed research findings and expressed interest in using these findings in the future program and policy development. We took the opportunity to recommend the use of DHS data and encourage our colleagues to apply for the upcoming DHS Fellows Program.

We want to thank the DHS Fellows Program not only for giving us opportunities to learn about DHS data but also to establish international collaborative research network with teams from different countries. The DHS Fellows Program is one of the most outstanding, well-organized, effective, productive and useful programs in the world.

Click below to apply on The DHS Program website. Leave any questions or comments below and let us know if you applied!

Apply for the 2019 DHS Fellows Program today!

Photo Credit: © 2018, ICF

Written by: Dr. Kyaw Swa Mya, Dr. Aung Tin Kyaw, & Dr. Thandar Tun

Dr. Kyaw Swa Mya is a Biostatistician. He is an Associate Professor and Head of Department of Biostatistics and Medical Demography, University of Public Health, Yangon, Myanmar. He holds a masters degree of Public Health in Biostatistics. His research interests are Maternal and Child Health, Nutrition and Non-communicable diseases.

Dr. Aung Tin Kyaw holds a Ph.D. in Demography. He is a faculty member of the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Demography of University of Public Health, Yangon, Myanmar. His research interests include HIV and migration.


Dr. Thandar Tun holds a masters degree in Public Health. She is a faculty member of Population and Family Health, University of Public Health, Yangon, Myanmar. Her research interests are Health equity, Health policy and management, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Maternal Health.

01 Nov 2017

From Participant to Facilitator: What I Learned From the DHS Fellows Program

I was part of a three-member team from Mulungushi University in Zambia accepted into the 2016 DHS Fellows Program. We were the second group of Fellows from our country, the first one in 2015 representing the University of Zambia.

The 2016 DHS Fellows Program opened the doors to my professional success. I interacted with fellow academicians from our continent; we shared and learned new ideas from highly experienced and seasoned scholars on how they use DHS data in their universities and countries. Apart from learning from my fellow academicians, the DHS Fellows facilitators, Drs. Wenjuan Wang and Shireen Assaf, helped me develop a better understanding of how to best use DHS data, how to select and apply appropriate analytical methods, and what limitations are in DHS data. Prior to participating in the Fellows Program, I had limited experience with these processes. DHS data is now core to my academic life – from teaching students analysis to conducting my own research. Since 2016, I have published five journal articles based on DHS data.

My participation in the DHS Fellows Program not only strengthened my professional development but also benefited my university. Upon completion of the Fellows Program, together with my team members, Mulenga Chonzi Mulenga and James Nilesh Mulenga, we trained academic staff and students on how to use DHS data in the classroom and research through two workshops and several courses. DHS data are now widely used among Mulungushi University students and lecturers for writing research articles and four-year undergraduate reports. Mulungushi University has recently started a Bachelor of Science in Demography (BSc DEM) Program. Most of the subject matter covered during the DHS Fellows workshops formed the BSc DEM course material, now a full-fledged program since the 2016/17 academic year.

One year after I completed the Fellowship, The DHS Program asked me to co-facilitate the first-ever Asian DHS Fellows Program. Honestly speaking, this was a life-changing experience as it allowed me to share the skills and knowledge gained over time with senior academicians from outside Africa. The time spent reviewing and commenting on the 2017 Fellows’ Working Papers broadened my perspective in looking at research. What was most gratifying was that they appreciated my comments which resulted in improved Working Papers. As a result, we found common ground to collaborate on future research. The successful experience working with Asian Fellows showcased the possibility and benefits of mixing scholars from Asia and Africa. I believe the use and understanding of DHS data are independent of where the group of scholars comes from, it’s about how informed and involved these two groups are in their respective countries which makes the difference in making the most out of DHS data. Such teams will benefit from one another through experiences that they will share with other Fellows.

I shall remain ever grateful to The DHS Program for the opportunities and look forward to more collaborations. I urge any person interested in conducting health-related research to utilize the rich resource of DHS data.

Have more questions about the DHS Fellows Program? Leave them in the comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe to receive email alerts for new posts.

Photo Caption: Bupe co-facilitating the 2017 DHS Fellows Program in Bangkok, Thailand.

Bwalya Bupe Bwalya is a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Mulungushi University. He holds a Master of Arts in Population Studies. His passion for research includes topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, as well as adolescent and reproductive health. He has consulted on nutrition activities with organizations such as CARE International, Zambia, and the PATH-Thrive Project. He is also a professional member of the Monitoring and Evaluation Association, Peoples Health Movement-Zambia, Union for African Population Studies (UAPS), and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP). In addition, he has presented papers at several local and international conferences such as the 7th ADC-UAPS and 28th IUSSP IPC.

18 Oct 2017

The DHS Fellows Program Continues in both Asia and Africa in 2018

The overarching objective of the DHS Fellows Program is to build institutional capacity of universities in DHS countries to analyze DHS data. The underlying belief of the DHS Fellows Program is that by working with university faculty, whose job is to educate the future government officials, policymakers, and program managers in their countries, the program will create sustainable capacity in the country for the use of DHS data.

Since 2011, the Fellows Program has trained about 100 researchers from over 30 universities in 18 DHS countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Fellows have produced a number of high-quality research papers that are published on The DHS Program website. Most of these papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

In addition to producing sound research based on DHS data, the Fellows Program has substantially increased institutional capacity to analyze DHS data through the Fellows’ capacity strengthening activities in their home universities. Fellows have integrated DHS data into the curriculum, held department seminars and research meetings for DHS data sensitization, mentored graduate students to use DHS data in dissertations, and conducted DHS data analysis workshops for students and/or faculty. Many of these activities continue after the Fellowship ends. For example, Nigerian Fellows from Obafemi Awolowo University have conducted their own annual training on DHS data analysis since 2012 and trained over 100 participants from a variety of organizations in Nigeria to use DHS data.

The Fellows Program has primarily focused on universities in sub-Saharan African countries, but in 2017, the Program was implemented in Asia and the Middle East.

Six teams from Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines analyzed DHS data to address a variety of research questions including contraceptive use dynamics in Egypt, postpartum family planning in Nepal, women’s empowerment and maternal health service utilization in Southeast Asia, low birth weight in Cambodia, and use of traditional contraception in the Philippines. Before the Fellowship ended, five teams had submitted their papers to peer-reviewed journals. We look forward to seeing their research published in more journals and contributing to related literature.

In 2018, we are pleased to announce that the DHS Fellows Program will cover both Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. We are currently accepting applications from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Myanmar, Nepal, South Africa, Timor-Leste, and Zimbabwe. Click below to apply on The DHS Program website. Leave any questions or comments below and let us know if you applied!

Photo caption: Participants from the 2017 DHS Fellows Data Users Workshop in Bangkok, Thailand.

26 Oct 2016

DHS Fellows at Obafemi Awolowo University Strengthen Capacity of Nigerian Researchers

Participants at the July 2016 DHS data analysis workshop by OAU Fellows

The DHS Fellows Program aims not only to build individual capacity to conduct research with DHS data but also to strengthen the institutional capacity of universities in Africa. Over the years, DHS Fellows have implemented their own capacity strengthening activities in various forms at their home universities and have contributed to the increased use of DHS data in academia in Africa. DHS Fellows from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in Nigeria have been particularly successful in building their home university’s capacity to use DHS data and expanding activities outside of OAU, continuing them for years even after the conclusion of their fellowship.

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Participants at the July, 2013 DHS data analysis workshop by OAU Fellows

As early as 2010, OAU started introducing DHS data in a departmental seminar series for staff and postgraduate students, initiated by a 2010 DHS Fellow and the head of the Department of Demography and Social Statistics at the time, Dr. Samson O. Bamiwuye. When three more faculty members Drs. Akinlo, Bisiriyu, and Esimaijoined the Fellows program in 2012, they were able to scale-up activities to host their first DHS data analysis workshop for OAU faculty. Meanwhile, with the support of Professor Peter Ogunjuyigbe, another head of the Department of Demography, the Fellows successfully integrated the use of DHS data into undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. DHS data use in final year projects was recommended for all undergraduate students in the department.

Through 2014, the team – joined by Dr. Akinyemi, another 2010 DHS Fellow– continued to host trainings to teach participants how to appropriately analyze DHS data. Moreover, they expanded their reach to participants from other universities and non-academic research institutions across Nigeria. They also experimented with charging a small fee to cover production of teaching materials and other logistical costs, which encouraged participants to make full use of workshop time. Given their expertise in DHS data use, Fellows have also been invited by other organizations to train staff on DHS data. For example, Dr. Akinolo was invited to facilitate a data analysis workshop at the National Population Commission.

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Participants at the Further Analysis of DHS capacity building workshop at the National Population Commission, Abuja, Nigeria, 2016

In 2016, another three members from the OAU Department of Demography and Social Statistics – Drs. Asa, Titilayo, and Kupoluyi – were selected to participate in the Fellows Program. The 2016 team worked with former Fellows and continued the Nigerian capacity strengthening activities. Two more workshops were organized that included OAU faculty as well as participants from Federal University in Oye-Ekiti, Bowen University, Iwo, University of Ibadan, National Bureau of Statistics, Academy for Health Development, OAU Health Centre, and Research & Marketing Services. These workshops aimed to raise the awareness of DHS data, teach participants how to use STATA software and DHS datasets to conduct research, and encourage collaboration and multidisciplinary approaches in research. Feedback from the workshop participants indicates the team’s success in achieving these aims:

“This workshop is the first of its kind where we were given the opportunity to undergo intensive training on the use of DHS datasets in STATA. The workshop improved my level of interpretation of results and capacity in assisting students in their use of statistical software and analysis.”

“The use of STATA in analyzing DHS data has enabled me to carry out trend analysis of various factors in the NDHS data which I have used in write-ups for further career development.”

“After the training workshop, I have been able to maximize my new skills to consolidate and conceptualize my research ideas using a DHS dataset. A one-year post-training plan was thereafter developed and efforts are being made to ensure that I meet the set targets.”

All DHS Fellows from OAU, also known as “Team Nigeria,” embody commitment and hard work, going beyond the objective of The DHS Fellows Program to strengthen institutional capacity. Between 2012 and 2016, Team Nigeria has trained over 100 participants from a variety of universities and organizations in Nigeria. Their ultimate (and likely attainable) goal is to become the training center for complex data analysis in the region.

Interested in applying to the 2017 DHS Fellows Program? We are accepting applications until December 2 2016. Learn more>>

Thank you to Drs. Asa, Kupoluyi, and Titilayo, who contributed to this blog post.

Dr. Sola ASA is a Demographer and a Biostatistician. Sola teaches at the Department of Demography and Social Statistics, Faculty of Social Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria as a Senior Lecturer. His main research interests include maternal and child health, reproductive health, survey methodology and statistical techniques. His research has been published locally and internationally.

Dr. Joseph Ayodeji KUPOLUYI is a Lecturer at the ObafemiAwolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He lectures in the Department of Demography and Social Statistics. He holds degrees in Demography and Social Statistics. His areas of interest are in maternal and child Health, family planning, and reproductive health issues.


Dr. Ayotunde TITILAYO holds a Ph.D. in Demography and Social Statistics. He is a faculty member of the Department of Demography and Social Statistics of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. His research and publication interests span across maternal and child health, gender-based domestic violence, and reproductive health matters. He also teaches social research methodology courses.














18 Oct 2016

Reflections from Elizabeth Nansubuga, a 2013 DHS Fellow

I was a DHS Fellow in 2013, part of a three-person team from the “Harvard of Africa,” Makerere University. The DHS Fellows Program came at a time when I had just enrolled for my doctoral studies in South Africa. As part of my doctoral studies, I had to apply advanced statistical techniques in analyzing maternal health-seeking behavior in Uganda using DHS data. Hence, the fellowship could not have come at a better time! It remains a remarkable experience to date, one that continues to impact my professional career.

Elizabeth Nansubuga co-facilitating the 2016 DHS Fellows workshop

Throughout The DHS Fellows Program, we were introduced to how to appropriately use DHS data and several analytical techniques using STATA software. These techniques were very useful in my doctoral studies. With the knowledge I acquired during the fellowship, I became known as a DHS data ‘expert’ among my peers and faculty colleagues and was able to share with them correct methods to analyze DHS data. It should come as no surprise that my Fellows teammate, Simon Kibira, acquired a further interest in the topic we worked on – male circumcision and HIV. He went on to pursue doctoral studies on the same topic.

After completing my doctoral studies at North West University, I returned to Makerere University and became a lecturer, which meant I would be teaching additional postgraduate courses. I have since been able to incorporate DHS data into my teaching materials. This was made easier with resources such as STATcompiler, DHS model datasets, and the mobile app – just a few of the numerous resources that Fellows are introduced to. And notably, since the fellowship, I had more confidence in supervising projects which used DHS data.

Sarah Staveteig, Patricia Ndugga, Elizabeth Nansubuga, and Wenjuan Wang after a presentation at The DHS Program headquarters

Later I had an opportunity with Ms. Patricia Ndugga, another former DHS Fellow and a colleague at Makerere University, to present our research based on DHS data to DHS staff at their Rockville, Maryland headquarters. Patricia presented an excerpt of her doctoral work, “Fertility preferences among postpartum women in Uganda.” Using the 2014-15 Uganda Malaria Indicator Survey, I presented my analysis “Determinants of three-dosage malaria intermittent preventive treatment among pregnant women in Uganda.” Here, we also received good feedback that greatly improved our work!

Afterward, I was invited to co-facilitate workshops during the 2016 Fellows Program. While I was happy to assist and share my knowledge and experiences, it was also an opportunity for me to continue enhancing my knowledge on DHS data and analytical skills, as well as to network with colleagues from other African countries.

Truly, there is nothing like The DHS Fellows Program that enhances one’s analytical and writing skills. It is also a Fellowship that enhances capacity building in universities. I encourage faculty engaged in demographic and health research to take advantage of this fellowship while it is offered.

Thanks to Elizabeth for contributing to The DHS Program blog! If you are interested in becoming a DHS Fellow, we are currently accepting applications for the 2017 program. Learn more here>>

Read some of Elizabeth and Patricia’s published work:

ELIZABETH NANSUBUGA is a faculty member in the Department of Population Studies at Makerere University, Uganda. She holds a Ph.D. in Population Studies. She is passionate about research that impacts policy and society. Her research interests are geared towards the improvement of maternal and child health with a major focus on characterization of maternal near misses. Her other research interests include sexually transmitted diseases, circumcision and gender issues. Her work is published in peer-reviewed journals. She is a recipient of several prestigious fellowships including the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholar, Population Reference Bureau Policy Communication Fellow, DHS Fellow, and African Doctoral Dissertation Fellow, among others. She has done consultancy work for several national and international organizations in the area of population and reproductive health. She is a member of several professional associations such as Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA), Population Association of America (PAA), and Union for African Population Studies (UAPS).









04 Nov 2015

Capacity Strengthening at Makerere University

Undergraduate students attentively listen to the presentation on The DHS Program.

By Betty Kwagala

Makerere University is one of the oldest Universities in Africa. Over the past 4 years, four teams of DHS Fellows (12 Fellows in all) have been selected from Makerere. Fellows have been drawn from School of Statistics and Planning, College of Business and Management Sciences and School of Public Health, College of Health Sciences. The two schools are closely related and work together in various ways including training, supervision of students’ research and faculty research in public health, population and reproductive health. DHS data are vital in several graduate and postgraduate courses taught in these two schools and a considerable number of faculty members also engage in research involving further DHS data analyses. The two schools had a second team of DHS Fellows this year.

I am among the faculty members at the School of Statistics and Planning of Makerere University that use DHS datasets for research. I had previously analysed DHS data but wanted to learn more about DHS data and be better equipped to use it in teaching and mentoring students. Therefore together with other two colleagues Ms. Olivia Nankinga and Dr. Cyprian Misinde in the Department of Population Studies, we applied for and were selected to participate in the 2015 DHS Fellows program.  During the program, I learned a lot ranging from sampling procedures, understanding complex indicators in DHS reports to correct analysis of DHS data.  My practical knowledge of Stata improved significantly.  I was impressed by the high quality of facilitation. Approaches used were adult sensitive, providing optimum opportunity for learning.  I appreciated the approach of learning by doing and emphasis on teamwork. The facilitators were highly knowledgeable, professional, yet empathetic and patient with the participants. The south-south co-facilitation of the workshop was excellent. Resources provided as part of the program are very useful.

Cyprian Misinde facilitating an undergraduate training session

Cyprian Misinde facilitating an undergraduate training session.

One of the objectives of the DHS Fellows Program is to increase the capacity to use DHS data in Fellows’ home universities through capacity-building activities implemented by the Fellows.  At the School of Statistics and Planning, few members of the School research teams were knowledgeable about proper analysis of DHS data or the rationale for the recommended procedures for analysis. Consequently, many staff members could not guide students appropriately. DHS data are often used inappropriately by staff and students.  To fill these gaps, working together with Ms. Nankinga and Dr. Misinde we implemented several activities that were designed to improve the capacity to use DHS data in the School.

For example, we held a training workshop titled “Appropriate use of DHS/AIS data for graduate and undergraduate students in the School of statistics and Planning 2014-2015 academic year” on 21st to 22nd August for graduate students at the School of Statistics and Planning. All masters programs were represented namely Masters in Statistics, Quantitative Economics, Population and Reproductive Health and Demography. The students are in the process of developing proposals for their master’s dissertations.  On average, thirty seven students attended the training each day.

Betty Kwagala facilitating a session.

Betty Kwagala facilitating a session.

To address the data need among undergraduates, we also conducted a half-day training that involved 44 third year students of pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Population Studies. They are expected to conduct research and write a dissertation as a partial fulfillment of the program requirements in the final year. Students were inquisitive and remained attentive throughout the sessions.

In addition, as part of our supervisory role, we are ensuring that students register to use the datasets, and that their proposals/dissertations take into account important elements of DHS data analysis (82 students have been trained and 20 supervised). We have integrated DHS content in our research methods courses. Two of the Fellows in the second team, Dr. Simon Kasasa and Ms. Allen Kabagenyi, conducted the first orientation session for Biostatistics students last month at the School of Public Health, in conjunction with Prof.  Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye and Prof. Robert Wamala.

Some of the key opportunities for the department and the school include keen interest and strong teamwork among faculty and the fact that the faculty and students were already using the datasets. Our research team has prepared an additional manuscript based on the UDHS (under review). We hope to collaborate more on DHS based research at school and university levels and possibly with our fellow alumni regionally.  The enthusiasm and interest of the students and their associations in proper analysis of DHS data is an important opportunity.  The training process has however been challenged by strikes of staff and students at the university and limited access to computers on the part of students.

Personally, I learned beyond my expectations and had a lot of fun as well. I highly recommend the Fellows program particularly for population, health and development researchers and lecturers for the benefit of our students, clients and careers.


Betty KwagalaBetty Kwagala is a Senior Lecturer at Makerere University School of Statistics and Planning, Department of Population Studies. Prior to lecturing, she was a research fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research. She now combines lecturing and research using mixed methods. She extensively uses DHS reports as reference materials for demographic and health statistics and a guide to designing survey questionnaires and DHS datasets for research. Her publications are mainly focused on gender relations, reproductive health, and health in general. Publications based on DHS data address gender based violence, contraception, and sexually transmitted infections. She was a 2015 DHS fellow.

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.


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