UNICEF is committed to doing all it can to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in partnership with governments, civil society, business, academia and the United Nations family – and especially children and young people.
The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 4 team in Almaty Oblast. Kazakhstan. The survey is complicated by the country's vast terrain and long, severe winter.
NEW YORK, USA, 14 February 2011 – The first country to launch the fourth round of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey – or MICS 4 – in November 2009, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was also the first to complete survey field work, to enter, process and analyze the data, and to release a final report – which can be found at childinfo.org.
On the other side of the world, MICS 4 interviewers from Cuba just finished criss-crossing that island nation on the way to implementing the survey. Their colleagues are now entering the data, and final results should be available by the end of February, with report writing to follow. Meanwhile, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea-Bissau, work is on the way to complete MICS 4 final reports. Both countries were the first to release preliminary findings under the current survey.
Such scenarios are being repeated across the 40 or so remaining countries participating into MICS4. Information from these surveys will help countries provide better care for children and women in need. It will also offer a more accurate picture of the progress made so far toward national goals and global commitments – including the Millennium Development Goals.
Challenges in Kazakhstan
In countries as far apart as Kazakhstan and Gaza, MICS4 is in full swing. While UNICEF-trained interviewers, measurers and their team members are overcoming differing challenges to collect data, others are busy assessing the quality of the information collected.
In Gaza a baby is measured as part of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 4, which collects data on the state of women and children throughout the developing world.
The MICS fieldwork in Kazakhstan is challenging because the country is vast and under-populated, and has a long, severe winter. The Kazakhstan survey covers about 16,000 households. Its aim is to present updated and disaggregated data on many indicators concerning health, nutrition, education and protection. This year’s survey in the country follows the MICS that took place there in 2006.
“That MICS which was conducted in 2006 did play an important role in the development of the public policies that are implemented now,” says interviewer Shargul Takhtarbekova. “People have also changed since the last MICS. They understand the importance of such surveys in changing their lives, so they respond to questions more willingly.”
Committed to accuracy
This MICS is unique because the Government of Kazakhstan has provided almost half of the funds for the survey. The field work, which started in early November 2010, is being implemented by 16 teams – one team per oblast (sub-national administrative unit in Kazakhstan).
It is also the second MICS in which many of the interviewers have participated in. Because they understand the importance of the previous MICS for Kazakhstan, these interviewers are even more committed to getting accurate information on the situation in the country.
Unlike the interviewers in rural areas, teams working in urban areas – such as Almaty, Astana and Taraz cities – face difficulties in gaining access to urban households given some reluctance of their members to participate. “We have to try different strategies to be able to talk to the household head,” says Zhambyl Oblast supervisor Inga Shevtsova.” If we are able to have the door opened, the rest goes smoothly.”
Overcrowded in Gaza
In far different conditions, MICS interviewer Tasaheel Al-Shorbaji braves the heat and humidity in the tiny alleyways of Khan Yunis refugee camp south of Gaza City in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. She is trying to find the next house on her list.
The camp houses are so crowded they seem to be stacked on top of each other, and it is very difficult to identify one from another. Finally, Ms. Al-Shorbaji spots the house and knocks on its makeshift scrap metal door. An elderly woman answers the doors. Ms. Al-Shorbaji introduces herself as a UNICEF MICS interviewer and is welcomed in.
She is one of 60 enthusiastic interviewers collecting data to cover Gaza’s MICS sample of 5,400 households.
“It is such a unique and challenging environment to conduct the survey in,” says the chief of the UNICEF Gaza Field Office, Diane Araki. “In Gaza, about 1.5 million inhabitants live in a tiny strip of land of approximately 360 square kilometres. On top of that, Gaza has been devastated by many conflicts, the last of which was military operation Cast Lead, which resulted in a high number of casualties and major infrastructural damages.”
Survey brings benefits
The survey covers a wide variety of topics, such as child survival and health, child nutrition, maternal health, newborn care, water and sanitation, education, child protection and HIV/AIDS. It also probes life satisfaction, tobacco use and access to mass media and information and communication technology.
One Gaza resident named Fatima says she is happy to answer the interviewer’s questions.
“In my community, we are not accustomed to giving such information to strangers,” she notes. “My husband was against the idea to begin with. The interviewers took the time to tell me all about this survey, which made me realize the overall benefit this survey will bring to myself and my children.”
Determined move forward
In the north of Gaza, MICS interviewer Warda Shabat rides a taxi to a conflict-affected area. She reaches her destination after a 45-minute trip on a bumpy road, only to find out that some houses on her address list no longer exist. They were destroyed during the last conflict.
“I looked for a house on my list, but it was not there anymore,” she says. “Then I asked the neighbours about the family that lived in it. They told me that they had moved.”
For Ms. Shabat, it is a very emotional situation. Nevertheless, she is determined move forward. “In such a case,” she says, “I just record it as ‘household destroyed.’”