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Impact on Society
01 October 2008
Collecting data in rural Africa
Impact on Society
When collecting survey data, it is important to find a method that is easy for interviewers and interviees, to ensure that complete and accurate information can be gathered. A survey on reproductive health and poverty in Malawi was among the first to use Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) for data collection in rural Africa. The innovation was viewed very positively by interviewers and respondents. IFS researchers conducted capacity building exercises with partners in Malawi, providing extensive training on the use of PDAs and other technology for data collection. Partners in Malawi have now adopted this new technology for their own data collection purposes.

To extend the usefulness of these data for other researchers, we are linking the information about pregnant women to another survey that contains detailed information on their reproductive health. This will create a new public use dataset combining information on health and social and economic characteristics. Such data are not widely available for Malawi, and will offer researchers from different fields a unique opportunity to study the links between health and social and economic status in an African context.