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Latest from the LSMS: New data from Malawi, measuring soil health & food consumption and expenditure in household surveys

Vini Vaid's picture


Message from Gero Carletto (Manager, LSMS)

A few weeks ago, I attended a meeting of the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA) in Muscat, Oman, where I joined a panel discussion on how global survey initiatives like the LSMS or Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) can help us measure and monitor many of the SDG indicators. We also discussed how global initiatives like the UN Statistical Commission’s Inter-Secretariat Working Group on Household Surveys (ISWGHS) can help coordinate these efforts and position the household survey agenda within the global data landscape. Everyone seems to agree that monitoring more than 70 SDG indicators will require high-quality, more frequent, and internationally comparable household surveys. Yet, the narrative on household surveys continues to be lopsided. In my view, this is partly because strengthening traditional data sources like surveys and censuses is seen as outmoded and ineffective when compared with the more glittering promises offered by alternative data sources like Big Data.

At the risk of sounding like a luddite, I believe that it’s important for countries and donors alike to continue investing in household surveys to both validate and add value to new types of data. In many of the countries we work in, leapfrogging to the digital revolution without having gone through an analog evolution may be an ephemeral proposition. This in no way means that we should continue doing things the same way: during the past decade, household surveys have evolved dramatically, increasingly relying on technological innovation and new methods to make survey data cheaper, more accurate, and more policy relevant. Methodological and technological innovation remains at the core of the LSMS’s raison d’être and, together with our partners, we will continue pushing the frontier. Until more robust and fully validated alternatives materialize, household survey critics may want to recall the old saying, “Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em!”

Latest from the LSMS: New data from Tanzania and Nigeria, dynamics of wellbeing in Ethiopia & using non-standard units in data collection

Vini Vaid's picture

Message from Gero Carletto (Manager, LSMS)

It has been a busy few months for the LSMS team! Together with several Italian and African institutions, we recently launched the Partnership for Capacity Development in Household Surveys for Welfare Analysis. The initiative cements a long-term collaboration to train trainers from regional training institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa to harmonize survey data and promote the adoption of best practices in household surveys across the region (see below for more details). In addition, we have contributed to several international conferences and meetings, such as the Annual Bank Conference on Africa (featured below), where we witnessed the creative use of the data we helped collect and disseminate. Finally, LSMS was part of a documentary on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) called The Crowd & The Cloud. The fourth episode featured our very own Talip Kilic and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, working hand in hand to produce household and farm-level panel data, which have been game changers in informing government policymaking and investment decisions, as well as in advancing the methodological frontier. We look forward to many more exciting quarters as we continue to work with our partners to improve the household survey landscape!

Latest from the LSMS: The Crowd & The Cloud, debunking myths about African Agriculture & costing household surveys

Vini Vaid's picture

Message from Gero Carletto (Manager, LSMS)

I would like to take this opportunity to remember Hans Rosling, a friend and supporter of the LSMS. I don’t need to tell you about his contagious enthusiasm for data or his masterful use of visualization tools to communicate statistics. I can’t say I knew Hans that well, but over the years, even if only based on sporadic interactions, I came to appreciate him both as a person and a scientist. I met him for the first time in 2013 and still remember the flabbergasted look on his face when Kathleen Beegle and I told him that the core LSMS team consisted of only four part-time staff. He was astounded to find out that we were so small, yet we looked so big. And, of course, being the visualization maestro that he was, he immediately came up with his own visual representation of the LSMS with a tool he had at his disposal at that moment: his hand!

From that day on, every time we met, he greeted me with his "LSMS hand." To this day, it remains a good, and fun, memory of Hans.

Latest from the LSMS: DNA fingerprinting, population mapping, energy access, and surveying forests and livestock

Raka Banerjee's picture

The LSMS team continues to support the World Bank's pledge to collaborate with the 78 poorest countries to collect high-quality national household survey data every three years, to better inform investments and policies to eradicate extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. A big part of this effort involves improving data collection methods in key areas. Toward that end, under the aegis of the World Bank’s Household Survey Working Group, we have developed a methodological research plan that focuses on welfare, gender, agriculture, and data processing/dissemination. Work is underway, and LSMS is collaborating with UNESCO, ILO, FAO, and other international organizations to establish standards and validate methods for data collection. As part of this effort, at a recent expert consultation at our Center for Development Data in Rome (hosted with FAO), representatives from development agencies and national statistical offices agreed on draft guidelines for collecting data on food consumption. Currently, there are no internationally agreed-upon standards for household consumption and expenditure surveys, so bringing this agenda forward can greatly improve the quality and comparability of global poverty, food security, and nutrition data.

New Data from Niger and Uganda!

Niger: The data from wave 2 of the Niger Enquête Nationale sur les Conditions de Vie des Ménages et l'Agriculture (ECVMA 2014) are now available. This panel dataset follows from the 2011 survey; 3,614 of the original 3,859 households were re-interviewed. The ECVMA is implemented in collaboration with the Niger Institut National de la Statistique (INS).

Uganda: The Uganda National Panel Survey (UNPS) 2013/14 data are also available.  This round follows from the 2005/06, 2009/10, 2010/11, and 2011/12 rounds and includes 3,119 households. The UNPS is implemented in collaboration with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

DNA Fingerprinting, Drones and Remote Sensing in Ethiopia

CGIAR-Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) implemented two data experiments in collaboration with LSMS, the World Bank, and the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency. One experiment examined data accuracy on measuring improved sweet potato varietal adoption. It compared three household-based methods against DNA fingerprinting benchmark. These included: (i) farmer elicitation, (ii) farmer elicitation using visual-aid, and (iii) enumerator elicitation using visual-aid. Visual-aid protocols were better than farmer elicitation, but still far below the benchmark estimates. Another experiment focused on crop residue coverage measurement. It compared four survey-based (interviewee and enumerator estimations as well as use of visual-aid protocol) and two aerial (drones' images and remote sensing) methods against a line-transect benchmark. The results ranked measurement options for survey practitioners and researchers in conservation agriculture.

Facebook, the OECD & the World Bank have a new way to survey businesses

Tim Herzog's picture

Countries in which firms were surveyed for initial round of “Future of Business Survey”

Facebook, the OECD and World Bank have just released the “Future of Business Survey” - a new source of information on small and medium enterprises. You can download the report and explore the results here.

The shared goal of this work is to help policymakers, researchers, and businesses to better understand business sentiment, and to leverage a digital platform to provide a unique source of information.

New Country Opinion Survey Data Portal Now Live

Sharon Felzer's picture
Politicians rarely take a step without them.
Corporations do them monthly.
Presidents and Prime Ministers check them daily.

Surveys and polls. They drive decision making across all sorts of organizations, corporations, governments and even palaces.  Polls inform a range of strategies, whether related to how countries build support for reform, to how organizations move the needle on behavior change (think smoking, HIV, and drunk driving), to how companies choose the colors of a box of cereal and decide on the jingo that is intended to sell that cereal (crafted specifically to never leave your memory)!