Publications Summary

Document Type
Spatial Analysis Reports
Publication Topic(s)
Geographic Information
Recommended Citation
Janocha, Bradley, Rose E. Donohue, Thomas D. Fish, Benjamin K. Mayala, and Trevor N. Croft. 2021. Guidance and Recommendations for the Use of Indicator Estimates at Subnational Administrative Level 2. DHS Spatial Analysis Reports No. 20. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF.
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Publication Date
September 2021
Publication ID

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The Demographic Health Surveys (DHS) are designed to provide reliable estimates of survey indicators primarily at the national level, as well as the first subnational administrative level. During the last several years and within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, there has been an expressed need to improve the measurement and understanding of local geographic patterns in support of more decentralized decision-making and more efficient program implementation. To better address the need for fine spatial and lower level (district) estimates, geospatial modeling techniques that can leverage existing survey data, spatial relationships between survey clusters, and relationships with geospatial covariates have become increasingly popular for mapping key development indicators at high spatial resolutions. The DHS Program has produced modeled surfaces for indicators in 50 standard surveys. Each pixel of a modeled surface represents a 5 x 5 km space on Earth and contains a predicted value for the modeled indicator. Modeled surfaces help to meet the demand for fine-scale demographic and health data, but they can be difficult to interpret for data users focused on administrative areas. Instead, 5 x 5 km surfaces can be aggregated to a country’s second administrative level (Admin 2). In this report, we explain how Admin 2 estimates can be used by policymakers and program managers in DHS Program partner countries, especially by those working at a country’s first administrative level. We advocate for the routine production and subnational dissemination of Admin 2 estimates, so that these estimates can become part of decision-making. We also provide a list of 18 standard DHS indicators to model. By routinely modeling this selected set of indicators, the value of the estimates will increase as the Admin 2 data are modeled and compared over time.


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