Statistics Without Borders Assists With Haitian Data Collection Project
A team of Statistics Without Borders (SWB) volunteers is advising SciMetrika, LLC (an 8(a) firm that focuses on providing solutions to advancing human health) on the design and execution of a survey in Haiti. Data collected will be used to assess the impact of the magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake of January 12, 2010. The epicentre of this earthquake, near the town of Léogâne, was about 16 miles WSW of the Haitian capital and population center of Port-au-Prince. Thousands of people died and homes, businesses, government buildings, and national landmarks throughout the region collapsed or suffered structural damage, resulting in the displacement of millions of survivors.
In the aftermath of this (or any other) natural disaster, it is critical to quickly develop reliable estimates of the extent of damage to homes and displacement of people as well as the nature of the displacements (temporary or permanent, current living conditions of the displaced, etc.). It is on these issues that SciMetrika and SWB are focusing.
Three SWB volunteers (Jim Ashley, Justin Fisher, and Fritz Scheuren) spent a week working with SciMetrika President & CEO Jean Orelien in Haiti in late March. This trip had three purposes:
• Work with local Haitian authorities and representatives of other organizations in Haiti to assess the situation and the potential difficulties to data collection;
• Work with the SWB Project Director (Jim Cochran) and other SWB volunteers to design a questionnaire and plan for executing the study;
• Assist with cognitive testing, field testing, and focus group testing of the draft questionnaire;
• Assist with translation and back-translation of the questionnaire and instructions for data collectors and their supervisors;
• Assist with pilot testing; and
• Advise on revision the questionnaire and data collection plan based on what is learned from the pilot testing.
While the geographic focus of this study is Port-au-Prince and its suburbs (such as Carrefour and Petion-Ville), SciMetrika is considering expansion of the project into cities outside of the capital that were affected such as Jacmel and Leogane.
The project has progressed quickly, by all accounts the assistance provided by has been invaluable, and the data collected through this effort promise to be of great utility to humanitarian organizations in their efforts to provide aid to the victims of this earthquake. In addition, SWB volunteers are gaining important experience and learning a great deal about project management and execution under extreme conditions.
Statistics Without Borders (SWB) is an apolitical organization under the auspices of the American Statistical Association, comprised entirely of volunteers, that provides /pro bono/statistical consulting and assistance to organizations and government agencies in support of these organizations' not-for-profit efforts to deal with international health issues (broadly defined). The organization’s vision is to achieve better statistical practice, including statistical analysis and design of experiments and surveys, so that international health projects and initiatives are delivered more effectively and efficiently. For more information about SWB or to offer project suggestions, contact either SWB co-chair Jim Cochran or Gary Shapiro.
Update (September 2012): The anonymized Haitian post-earthquake cell-phone survey dataset is now available. Click here to download a .zip file containing the documentation and the data in SAS and SPSS formats.