2011 Conference Notes

Jean Sack, portrait

By Jean Sack

The 44th Annual Conference included 13 speakers in 8 sessions. Jean Sack offers notes about some of the speakers. -Ed.


Kristen Purcell of the Pew Internet and American Life ProjectKristen Purcell’s Keynote “Information 2.0 and Beyond” (kpurcell@pewinternet.org) began with a description of the Pew Internet Project as a “fact tank” in collecting communications information about American Adults 18+ and USA teens 12-17, using cell phone surveys. Her presentation was extraordinarily fluent and fun! The 2011 Pew surveys revealed that 85 percent of American own cell phones with 25 percent of their homes functioning without landlines.  Some 74 percent of adults use Internet and 93 percent of teens with 65 percent using the web via broadband.  Only half of people with disabilities use the web, however, but African-American adults are the most active mobile Internet users with 40 percent of Hispanics using the web now. Because on-line access via mobile phones has sharply declined in price, low income populations use phones for web. About 61 percent of online adults use social networks with elders (above 50 years) rising in use of Facebook and other networks. Only 8 percent of on-line adults use Twitter (especially 14-17 year old girls) but many more use apps as a form of information highway bypass to pull in information, including getting geo-locations, games, social networks, news / weather, and games. Who is evaluating information when 70 percent of adults feel overwhelmed by free news vs. broad information overload? Who is teaching digital literacy and judging depth of user satisfaction with Google searches? Kristen ended her review of the past Pew Internet Surveys with a salute to the essential role of librarians as human information filters because they are trusted experts and good storytellers who can explain and customize how information relates and is relevant to the seekers.

  1. Curators who use portals to aggregate links and recommend sources for “deep dives”
  2. Become a living node in a network to make information open and available
  3. Community builders in connecting people and forming free focus groups around facts
  4. Lifesavers in providing timely information
  5. Tour guides into worlds of knowledge (like museums) and data (Census and beyond)

International Datasets

Peter D. Johnson of the US Census Bureau used a screen capture PowerPoint slide show to review the International Database (IDB) and International Data Resources available on line, including some survey follow-ups such as Mozambique’s sample of deaths with verbal autopsies. Although there were no IDB handouts, Census Bureau folders with US 2010 timetables were brought in later, by Louisa Miller, on Wednesday afternoon.

Ivana Bjelic’s (ibjelic@unicef.org) careful review of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) generated by UNICEF was quite stimulating. Three MICS survey sets with 200 surveys taken in 100 countries have followed the original 1990s household surveys done for the World Summit for Children in 1995. The MICS4 given from 2009-2011 is in 43 countries whose governments select the menu modules that they desire in order to fill in gaps in their health and economic data for policy decisions. Each county implements the survey packages with funding from UNFPA, UNDP, USAID, Global Fund and UNICEF supplying technical and training help. Eighty-five percent of funding flows through the UNICEF local country offices although several countries have self-funded with average past costs of $300,000 per country. Governments form MICS teams who are trained in regional workshops in data processing & analysis as well as administration of the surveys and dissemination of results. Reviews of all questionnaires and standard methods result in each country customizing their MICS surveys and contracting with local country survey agencies for capacity building. UNICEF technical advisors return to the country at critical times during the surveys. DHS added household income survey questions from MICS to determine child well-being. Each survey takes a household sample, face to face interviews with individuals, women, children and men (new module for males). Only female interviewers can survey women and they also survey men. Follow up health checkups are given.

The MICS4 pilot was done in Mombasa, Kenya in Feb. 2009. The Early Childhood Development Index is targeted for PreS literacy, numeracy, physical / social / emotional and learning within the household. Medical screening follows for children in sample and a disability survey. Attitude questions are being added to MICS, including standard questions about child discipline and domestic violence.  It is possible to compare certain modules of MICS between rounds and countries. A module on Child Health contains questions about immunization coverage, ORT, and care-seeking for pneumonia. The Household questions are given to women 15-49, mothers of children under 5, and men 15-59 collecting demographics, identifying orphans, education, water / sanitation, dwelling information places family in wealth quintiles, malaria queries include collecting statistics on use of ITN bed nets or spraying, and includes questions about child labor, hand washing, and food (salt iodization test is made). The women’s module includes questions on literacy, fertility, age at marriage, access to mass media, birth histories (child mortality), illnesses in children, contraceptive use, postnatal checks, female genital cutting, life satisfaction, maternal mortality, use of tobacco / alcohol. The newest module for men is similar to that for women but includes male circumcision, contraceptive usage and sex behaviors as well as questions about HIV / stigma and shame. The median number of household visits per country is 7,000 but can be up to 62,000.

Collected MICS data are disseminated in-country in preliminary reports, a final report is issued and a country action plan developed. Most data is mounted on the MICS website for public use. The State of the World’s Children utilizes data from MICS as do the UNICEF Countdown reports, Millennium Development reports, and the Global Poverty Index. Datasets are downloadable and free from www.childinfo.org and via www.micscompiler.org with tables, graphs, maps. Only a few countries have participated in each MICS round (Serbia and Gambia), since many governments rotate between with DHS (Ghana & Sierra Leone). Mali is participating for the first time in MICS4 while many of the African countries are now nearly finished with MICS4 data collections.

Ivana handled many questions very adroitly during her PowerPoint presentation. MICS information was distributed on UNICEF CDs to APLIC members in addition to spiral notebooks, fact-sheets, postcards, opaque rulers and mouse pads.

Note : Jean sent these notes to us in a very timely fashion in April; the editorial team will try in future to be more responsive.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.