Linking Climate Change and Women’s Health using DHS Program Data

Written by: The DHS Program

21 Apr, 2023

April 22nd is Earth Day, when we take time to reflect on how our actions affect our planet. But how does our environment affect us? In an interview, Dr. Kathryn Grace details how she uses DHS Program data to explore the impact of geography and climate on women’s and children’s health outcomes such as fertility, family planning decision-making, birth weight, and malnutrition.

The DHS Program collects GPS coordinates of household clusters for each survey, allowing researchers like Dr. Grace to explore the relationship between health outcomes and geospatial covariates such as rainfall, elevation, temperature, and travel times to nearest cities, for example.

As with survey datasets, data users can access DHS Program GPS datasets for free with a simple registration. Data users can also download geospatial covariate datasets from The DHS Program’s Spatial Data Repository. These provide displaced survey cluster locations already linked with several popular geospatial covariates. Read more in a previous blog post about geospatial covariate data. Read Dr. Grace’s article that she mentions: Considering climate in studies of fertility and reproductive health in poor countries.

Dr. Grace uses DHS Program datasets to equip the next generation of data scientists to explore new and interesting questions.

Dr. Grace is part of IPUMS-DHS, another helpful tool for DHS Program data users. IPUMS-DHS makes it easy to find and review thousands of DHS survey variables and to download a single fully-harmonized data file with precisely the variables and samples that interest you. IPUMS-DHS currently includes 180 surveys from 32 African countries and 9 Asian countries.

Dr. Grace and her students get their hands dirty with DHS Program data and link the climate context of a place to population health outcomes. With the insights from their research, decision makers can more effectively support people to live healthy lives in the face of environmental shocks.

Read more about Dr. Kathryn Grace and her work on climate and maternal and child health.

Feature image: © SASITHORN / AdobeStock


  • The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program has collected, analyzed, and disseminated accurate and representative data on population, health, HIV, and nutrition through more than 400 surveys in over 90 countries. The DHS Program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Contributions from other donors, as well as funds from participating countries, also support surveys. The project is implemented by ICF.

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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.