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New national household survey collects better data to improve lives in Angola

© UNICEF/2008/Hvass
Miguel Zambakanhongo ponders the MICS questionnaire with his wife Henriqueta Kabila Salvador and their baby in Luanda, Angola.

By Lone Hvass

LUANDA, Angola, 21 July 2008 – The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, or MICS, is a UNICEF-supported census designed to evaluate the well-being of women and children. Angola’s third MICS is now being conducted in all of its 18 provinces.

The last one was carried out here in 2001 and published in 2003.

Since 1995, UNICEF has been promoting MICS to monitor socio-economic and health indicators throughout the developing world. But this is the first time in Angola that it has been merged with the World Bank’s IDR survey on household income and expenditure. As a result, the data collection will cover a larger portion of the population, have an extended duration and include economic indicators.

Before any data can be analyzed, however, it first must be collected in the field by a dedicated and tireless staff.

Comprehensive questionnaire

Esperanca Bombo and Isabel Tuluca are Angolan survey supervisors. Along with Luzolo Filipe, a questionnaire administrator, they recently visited a neighbourhood called Rocha Pinto in the municipality of Samba.

© UNICEF/2008/Hvass
Jose Fideles, in character as ‘Mr. Say What’, performs in a skit at the public launch of the integrated survey on population well-being.

The team stopped in the home of a young couple, Miguel Zambakanhongo and Henriqueta Kabila Salvador, and administered the last part of the MICS questionnaire.

In the small yard in front of the house, the team sat down with the couple and their baby under the shade of an almond tree and began the interview. It was their fourth visit, as the questionnaire is quite comprehensive and takes four hours to complete.

The questionnaire administrator directed questions to Mr. Zambakanhongo, occasionally prompting Ms. Kabila Salvador to confirm or elaborate upon his answers. From time to time, the supervisors intervened to clarify certain points.

Opening doors in Luanda

Ms. Bombo firmly believes that Angola must invest in more surveys of this type. “Surveys are so important for planning and moving Angola forward,” she says.

Now working toward an advanced degree in sociology, Ms. Bombo is passionate about her job and says she practically grew up at the National Institute of Statistics. A survey supervisor for the provinces of Luanda, Bengo and Cabinda, she notes that doors are usually wide open for survey teams outside of the capital city – but in Luanda, people tend to be a bit more reluctant about being questioned.

To help open doors in the capital, a radio and TV character named ‘Mr. Say What?’ disarms sceptics with a humorous take on the questionnaires.

‘Receptive to theatre’

‘Mr. Say What?’ is played by Jose Fideles Abel Antonio Manuel, director of the cultural group Balumuka. With support from UNICEF, he and his partner Pedro Coimbra have designed various skits on what surveying means, how it is done and what impact it will have on the population.

“It is important to prepare the ground and get the message through in Angola when you do something like a national survey,” says Mr. Abel Antonio Manuel. “Angolans are very receptive to theatre.”

Data collection for Angola’s new MICS began in May and will last for a year, until May 2009.



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