NBS Publishes General Household Survey 2014


Wednesday, April 20, 2016 9:54AM/NBS

Executive summary

Survey Objectives and Design

The NBS General Household Survey (GHS) is implemented in collaboration with the World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team as part of the Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (ISA) program and was revised in 2010 to include a panel component (HS-Panel).

The objectives of the study include the development of an innovative model for collecting aricultural data, inter-institutional collaboration, ad comprehensive analysis of welfare indicators and socio-economic characteristics.

Demographic Characteristics

The survey finds that average household size is 6.1 and 5.2 persons in rural ad urban areas, respectively. The numbers in the present wave of the survey do not reflect any significant change in average household size at the national level since Wave 1 of the survey done in 2012.

Regionally, the greatest changes occurred in the North and South West where the average number of household members increased by 0.4 people. The dependency ratio in rural areas (1.3%) is only slightly higher than that in urban areas (1.1%) where it has remained unchanged since Wave 1


The survey captures educational outcomes of household members through self-reported literacy, attendance, and attainment, as well as constraints such as proximity to school and school expenses.

Similar to Wave 1, the present survey results show that the highest literacy rate for females was for 15 to 19 year olds. The highest literacy rates for males, however, occur between the ages of 20 and 30. Between the ages of 5 and 14, 77 percent of male children, and 74 percent of female children, are enrolled in a type of primary or secondary school; however, government school enrollment far exceeds private.

As with Wave 1, a lack of time/interest was cited as the most common reason for non-enrollment in school, however in this wave, another commonly cited reason was a lack of schools and teachers.

The survey gathers information on recent illnesses, disability, healthcare utilization, and child anthropometrics. 10.9 and 12.5 percent of men and women, respectively, reported having an illness in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

For women over 65 years, this number jumps to 33 percent. Similar to Wave 1, individuals who reported being ill in the 4 weeks preceding the survey were most likely to seek care at a hospital (6% for men and 33% for women) or with a chemist (34% for men and 33% for women).

On average, households only allocate approximately 3 percent of household expenditure for medical care, with the majority of this expense going toward hospital admission fees.

More than 50 percent of individuals live less than 15 minutes from the nearest hospital or health facility, though approximately 8 percent of individuals report living more than two hours from sufficient healthcare services.

Child anthropometrics results indicate that 24.9 percent of boys and 23.8 percent of girls are stunted (low height-for-age). Generally, stunting and underweight prevalence estimates are found to be lower in urban than in rural areas.

Housing Characteristics

The GHS-Panel also collected data on housing tenure and characteristics. Findings show that over 64 percent of households own their dwelling and 17.9 percent of households rent their homes. Although 63 percent of households have homes with 3 or more rooms, the quality of the building material remains poor.

Nationally, more than 60 percent of households have electricity (an average of 35 hours per week of 5 hours a day), but there is a large disparity in access at the zonal level; 88 percent of urban households have access electricity compared to only 40 percent of households in rural areas.

Household Assets

Households were asked if they owned various assets including farm implements, home furniture, durables, entertainment equipment, and automobiles, among many others. Close to 94 percent of households own a mattress, 84 percent own a bed, and 75 percent own mats. The data suggest that rudimentary farm implements, such as hoes and cutlasses, are considerably more common than modern tools such as tractors and pickup trucks.


The survey collects information on households’ access to information and communication technology (ICT) and patterns of usage. Findings reveal that nearly all households (89%) have access to a radio and mobile phones are more common in urban areas (91.6%) than in rural (77.5%). Access to personal computers (14.3% vs. 4.3%) and internet-not via mobile phones (14.4% vs. 3%) is more prevalent in urban areas than in rural areas; however, access to all ICT tools has increased in both urban and rural areas as well as nationally, since wave 1.

Consumption, Food Security and Shocks:

The survey included questions on food and non-food expenditure, food shortages, shocks, and coping mechanisms. Overall vegetables along with grains and flours are the most consumed food items with 90 percent of households consuming food items in these groups.

This is closely followed by oil and fat products (87.9%), and meat, fish and animal products (84.2%). Fruits and dairy products continue to be reported as the least prevalent food consumed, and while grains and flour are the most consumed food group, average expenditure is highest for meat, fish, and animal products.

Numbers from the present survey also show a decline in consumption of the most popular food groups in the post-planting period (August–October) compared with the values obtained for Wave 1 of the GHS-Panel. An examination by sector however, shows an increase in consumption of the main food groups, except fruits, sugars, and oils, in both rural and urban areas.


Soap and kerosene are the most common non-food items consumed among households, with close to 9 out of 10 households reporting soap purchases and 72 percent reporting kerosene use. House rent accounts for the highest national mean expenditure. Households were also asked about their experience with food security and their history of shocks.

Similar to findings in Wave 1, reported food shortages from this wave are seasonal, with January and February posing the biggest risk of food insecurity. Twenty percent households reported having to reduce the number of meals taken in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Urban households were more likely to have reduced their meal intake than rural households (22.8% vs. 17.5%). Major shocks negatively affecting households in order of importance as ranked by households, include: death or disability of a working household member, rains causing harvest failure, and food price increase.

The most common coping mechanisms reported include receipt of assistance from family and friends (7.4%) and reduction in food consumption (5%).

Income Generating Activities, Labor and Time Use:

According to survey results, agriculture is the most common income-generating activity among all age groups, followed by buying and selling of goods. Among working individuals aged 5 to 14, agriculture is the most prevalent income-generating activity. Individuals between ages 15–24 report the highest rates of unemployment in the country (13% in females and 11% in males).

On average, urban unemployment rates are higher than rural rates. Sixty-seven percent of households participate in non-farm enterprises; retail trade (58.8%) and provision of personal services (10.9%) are the most common types of enterprises. Households are most likely to acquire the start-up capital for these enterprises through household savings (51.3%) or friends and relatives (26.4%).

Household members were also asked about time spent collecting fuel wood and water and, as might be expected, more time is allocated to these activities in rural areas than in urban areas. The data show that, nationally, men and women spend similar amounts of time collecting these items. However, there are starker gender differences at the regional level; for example, in the North West region males over age 60 report an average of 29 minutes collecting wood and water while women report spending only 7 minutes on this activity per day.


The survey’s agriculture modules cover crop farming and livestock rearing. Results show that each household holds an average of 2.5 plots at an average of 0.5 hectares in size. Nationally, only 5.9 percent of male managed plots and 3.1 percent of female managed plots are owned via purchase, though almost 19.6 percent of female managed plots in the North West region were purchased.

The most common means of acquiring and is through distribution by the community and family. 71 percent of male managed plots and 72 percent of female managed plots are acquired through this method. Fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides are applied in approximately 38 percent, 24.8 percent, and 15.4 percent of plots, respectively. Purchased seeds and animal traction are also common forms of agricultural input.

According to the GHS-Panel data, the goat is the most common animal owned by households across all regions (65%). Overall, male-headed households own more animals than female-headed households. The majority of livestock is either slaughtered (41.2%) or sold (29.4%). The most common by-products produced from livestock are eggs (73%) and milk (23%). 

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