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Statistics and Monitoring

Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 4 rolls out across the globe

© UNICEF/2009/Vadnais
A MICS interviewer gathers data in a household in Kenya.

NEW YORK, USA, 7 April 2010 – Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) are in full swing. The fourth round of the programme began its rollout in 2009, and countries around the world are gearing up to collect invaluable MICS data about the situation of children and women.

  VIDEO: Watch now

UNICEF developed MICS in the mid-1990s to help countries produce statistically sound, internationally comparable data across a range of indicators, including health, education, child protection and HIV/AIDS. To date, more than 200 surveys have been carried out in around 100 countries.

"The MICS surveys evolved from being a relatively simple tool for monitoring progress toward the World Summit for Children goals and targets to becoming one of the most important sources of data for tracking progress toward the Millennium Development Goals – as well as other major international commitments for improving the lives of women and children worldwide," said UNICEF’s Chief of Statistics and Monitoring and Associate Director of the Division of Policy and Practice, Tessa Wardlaw.

Data collection

MICS data are collected in face-to-face interviews in nationally representative samples of households. The result is one of the world’s largest sources of statistical information on children and women, which can be disaggregated by various geographic, social and demographic characteristics.

Rigorous training throughout the survey process is a MICS hallmark.

UNICEF Director of Policy and Practice Richard Morgan described the importance of MICS as follows: "At this point in history, we have the greatest availability of data about the lives, the struggles of people throughout the world that we've ever had. MICS have played a very important role in bringing us to that historical juncture, where we begin to understand the lives of people for whom we're working much better than we ever have before."

Governments are the driving force behind MICS, with technical support and financial assistance supplied by UNICEF and its partners. The evidence-based data provides governments with the information they need to implement policies and fine tune programmes for the benefit of their populations. MICS continues to evolve with each new round to address emerging issues and capture rapid changes in key indicators.

Involving key stakeholders

During a recent side event at the 41st session of the United Nations Statistical Commission, speakers from MICS4 countries Sierra Leone and Serbia – along with UN Statistical Division and UNICEF staff – shared their MICS experiences with attendees.

Ahmed Saybom Kanu, Administrative Head of Statistics in Sierra Leone, highlighted the importance of involving various in-country interest groups early on to promote acceptance and utilization of the findings – along with ensuring a survey’s validity and reliability – and, therefore, national ownership.

The need for inclusiveness also applies to data dissemination. "If you want to disseminate your data well, [you should] involve all the key stakeholders at the initial stage so they understand the ramifications of what you are doing. Your methodology will be comprehensively understood by them," said Mr. Kanu.

At the same event, UNICEF’s Global MICS Coordinator, Attila Hancıoğlu, updated the audience on the rollout of MICS4 and the other latest developments with the surveys. He highlighted some of the additions to the questionnaires in the fourth round – including such new topics as life satisfaction and subjective well-being, alcohol and tobacco use, and access to media and technologies. Mr. Hancıoğlu noted that MICS now offers more information than ever before about children and women, adolescents and young people.

Survey process and results

'The MICS Process', a new video about how the surveys are actually carried out in the field, was also presented during the side event. (Contact the MICS Team at MICS@unicef.org to receive a copy of the video electronically.)

An updated list of countries participating in round four is available at http://www.childinfo.org/mics4_surveys.html – the portal for all things MICS. MICS4 will be carried out through 2011 and national report and micro-level datasets will be available on www.childinfo.org as they become available starting later this year, free of charge.




Watch UNICEF’s coverage of the MICS side event held during the 41st session of the United Nations Statistical Commission.
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Learn why MICS is an invaluable tool for the design of evidence-based programming to improve the lives of children and women.
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See how the MICS programme has evolved since the mid-1990s, and how the surveys are implemented in the field.
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