One in eight people worldwide still go to bed hungry every night, and the increased severity of natural disasters like droughts only exacerbates this situation. Humanitarian agencies and development practitioners are increasingly focused on helping the most vulnerable recover from the effect of these shocks by boosting their resilience.
The Malawi National Statistical Office (NSO), in collaboration with the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS), disseminated the findings from the Fourth Integrated Household Survey 2016/17 (IHS4), and the Integrated Household Panel Survey 2016 (IHPS), on November 22, 2017 in Lilongwe, Malawi. Both surveys were implemented under the World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) initiative, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The IHS4 is the fourth cross-sectional survey in the IHS series, and was fielded from April 2016 to April 2017. The IHS4 2016/17 collected information from a sample of 12,447 households, representative at the national-, urban/rural-, regional- and district-levels.
In parallel, the third (2016) round of the Integrated Household Panel Survey (IHPS) ran concurrently with the IHS4 fieldwork. The IHPS 2016 targeted a national sample of 1,989 households that were interviewed as part of the IHPS 2013, and that could be traced back to half of the 204 panel enumeration areas that were originally sampled as part of the Third Integrated Household Survey (IHS3) 2010/11.
The panel sample expanded each wave through the tracking of split-off individuals and the new households that they formed. The IHPS 2016 maintained a 4 percent household-level attrition rate (the same as 2013), while the sample expanded to 2,508 households. The low attrition rate was not a trivial accomplishment given only 54 percent of the IHPS 2016 households were within one kilometer of their 2010 location.
A new Country Economic Memorandum gives us a chance to step back and look at the deep drivers of growth since Malawi’s independence in 1964. What stands out, though, is just how far Malawi has fallen behind its peers. It’s easy to look at the seemingly insurmountable challenges the country faces—from droughts and floods to the country’s landlocked status—yet other countries in the region have experienced just as many climate-related disasters, and overcome them better. And throughout the 50 plus years of its independence, Malawi has been fortunate to be at peace and mostly politically stable.
Food consumption and agricultural production are two critical components for monitoring poverty and household well-being in low- and middle-income countries. Accurate measurement of both provides a better contextual understanding and contributes to more effective policy design.
At present, there is no standard methodology for collecting food quantities in national surveys. Often, respondents are required to estimate quantities in standard units (usually metric units), requiring respondents to convert into kilograms, for example, when many respondents are more comfortable reporting their food consumption and production using familiar “local” or “non-standard” units. But how many tomatoes are in one kilogram? How much does a local small tin or basket of maize flour weight? This conversion process is often an uncommon or abstract task for respondents and this added difficulty can introduce measurement error. Allowing respondents to report quantities directly in NSUs places less of a burden on respondents and may ultimately lead to better quality data by improving the accuracy of information provided.
This new Guidebook provides guidance for effectively including non-standard units (NSUs) into data-collection activities — from establishing the list of allowable NSUs to properly collecting conversion factors for the NSUs, with advice on how to incorporate all the components into data collection. An NSU-focused market survey is a critical part of preparing the conversion factors required for effectively using NSU data in analytical work. As such, the bulk of this Guidebook focuses on implementing the market survey and on calculating conversion factors to ensure the highest-quality data when using NSUs.
The Guidebook is the result of collaboration between the World Bank's Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team, the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia, the National Bureau of Statistics in Nigeria, the National Statistics Office of Malawi, and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
For practical advice on household survey design, visit the LSMS Guidebooks page: http://go.worldbank.org/0ZOAP159L0
In The Godfather II, Vito Corleone chooses his younger son, Michael, instead of his older son, Fredo, as his successor. This decision is based on Michael's intelligence and ability. Fredo, who is considered weak, is dismissed to do more menial tasks for the family. This has huge implications for Michael, Fredo, and the Corleone saga.
CC (The Godfather) Image courtesy of Insomnia Cured Here on Flickr
What makes parents decide to "invest" in one child over another? In economics, a key idea is that parents either reinforce or compensate for children’s endowments, such as health or intelligence. They reinforce by investing more in the human capital of their better-endowed children. Or they compensate by investing more in their worse-endowed children to reduce inequality among siblings. The core notion is : either parents are striving for equity (the compensating strategy) or efficiency (the reinforcing strategy of Vito Corleone).
Last week on World Population Day, I was thinking of the joy of children and the right of women to decide when to have them. It matters to women, but it matters to society as a whole. There can be no sustainable development without women’s empowerment, and there can be no women’s empowerment without access to comprehensive maternal and reproductive health services. Family planning is part of them.
It is estimated that more than 250 million school children throughout the world cannot read. This is unfortunate because literacy has enormous benefits – both for the individual and society. Higher literacy rates are associated with healthier populations, less crime, greater economic growth, and higher employment rates. For a person, literacy is a foundational skill required to acquire advanced skills. These, in turn, confer higher wages and more employment across labor markets .
During my recent trip to Malawi, I saw that the expansion of agriculture, of illegal logging, and of charcoal production are decimating the country’s once-forested hillsides, causing soil to wash into rivers, wetlands, and lakes. This loss of topsoil is reducing crop yields, putting stress on agriculture-dependent communities, and leading to increasingly intense land use.