An innovative new questionnaire module that measures the extent to which people were affected by the widespread 2015-2016 drought caused by El Nino was recently field tested in Malawi. The data collected are crucial to understanding how children cope and survive after emergencies. The new Post-Emergency module captures key information on issues people face in the wake of a natural or man-made emergency or disaster. These include changes to basic services, livelihoods, health, migration and resulting changes to household structure. These data are key to understanding if people affected by an emergency have fully recovered.
In Zomba, Malawi, interviewers from the National Statistical Office were trained to administer the standard MICS questionnaires and the new Post-Emergency module in November 2017. During 7 days of field work, interviewers were dispatched to areas affected by the drought in Balaka. Data were also collected in Nkhata Bay, an area not affected by drought, which serves as a comparison group for data analysis. The MICS team observed many interviews to understand how the module is administered and what problems interviewers and respondents had. The MICS team also collected in-depth information on how respondents understood the questions by debriefing close to 20 women who had experienced the drought. Further, interviewers from the NSO shared their experiences of using the questionnaires during two focus group sessions, data which are key to finalizing the module.
In the coming weeks, the survey data and qualitative data will be used to finalize the module. The new module will be one of the first and few global efforts to understand how children and their families recover from emergencies. It will be available for use by countries in 2018, and is expected to be widely used in MICS surveys after conflicts and natural disasters.