23 July 2013

New Subnational Data on African Education and Infrastructure Access

The Climate Change and African Political Stability program (CCAPS) at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law is pleased to announce the release of a new dataset of sub-national African education and infrastructure access data. This dataset provides data on literacy rates, primary and secondary school attendance rates, access to improved water and sanitation, household access to electricity, and household ownership of radio and television.

Unlike other datasets, notably the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, this new CCAPS dataset provides data at the subnational level. This subnational data allows for assessment of education and household characteristics at the more localized level needed for allocating resources and targeting development interventions. The new CCAPS dataset includes data for 38 countries, covering 471 of Africa’s 699 first-level administrative districts.

“This new dataset, compiled form the most comprehensive and reliable surveys, improves the geospatial resolution of possible research on a number of issues including development, healthcare and education in Africa,” said Todd Smith, a PhD candidate at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a CCAPS researcher who was the primary architect of the dataset. He described its potential uses: “Education and infrastructure access are not uniform across any country and the ability to capture the variation both between and within countries will improve the strength and validity of statistical models. Still, it is only a start and we welcome efforts to advance the spatial coverage by including additional countries, as well as the temporal coverage to allow for time-series analysis.”
The value-added of this dataset is fourfold. First, the dataset combines all the publicly available subnational data for these indicators from different sources into a single dataset. The data were calculated using raw survey data from three sources: the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development; Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey supported by UNICEF; and the General Household Surveys conducted by Statistics South Africa. The datasets used are freely available for download from the websites of these agencies. Second, these indicators are connected with a unique identifier to shape files with the most current subnational units for the entire continent of Africa. Third, while the DHS regularly disseminate sub-national data on a variety of indicators, they have not done so for the specific education indicators in this dataset. Finally, for several of the indicators, including access to improved water sources and school attendance, the indicators are reported and aggregated to allow for comparisons across countries.
Joshua Busby, assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and a lead CCAPS researcher, oversaw development of the dataset. “This is a tremendous resource to scholars and practitioners alike, allowing analysis and visualization of education, water access, and other infrastructure data at the sub-national level,” noted Busby. “We’ve only scratched the surface of potential applications in our incorporation of some of these indicators in the CCAPS climate security vulnerability model.”

The CCAPS dataset is available for download, and the methodology used to create the dataset is detailed in the codebook.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's Minerva Initiative, the Strauss Center's program on Climate Change and African Political Stability aims to assess where and how climate change poses threats to stability in Africa, develop strategies to build government capacity to respond, and evaluate the effectiveness of foreign aid for climate change adaptation in Africa. For more information, please visit

Contact: Ashley Moran, CCAPS Senior Program Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (512) 439-9460

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