by Dana R Thomson, Dale A Rhoda, Andy J Tatem, and Marcia C Castro.



In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), household survey data are a main source of information for planning, evaluation, and decision-making. Standard surveys are based on censuses, however, for many LMICs it has been more than ten years since their last census and they face high urban growth rates. Over the last decade, survey designers have begun to use modelled gridded population estimates as sample frames. We summarize the state of the emerging field of gridded population survey sampling, focussing on LMICs.


Gridded population surveys used automated and manual approaches to derive clusters from WorldPop and LandScan gridded population estimates. After sampling, many surveys interviewed all households in each cluster or segment, though some sampled households from larger clusters. Tools to select gridded population survey clusters include the GridSample R package, Geo-sampling tool, and In the field, gridded population surveys generally relied on geographically accurate maps based on satellite imagery or OpenStreetMap, and a tablet or GPS technology for navigation.


We performed a systematic review and identified 23 national and sub-national gridded population-based household surveys implemented across 18 LMICs.


For gridded population survey sampling to be adopted more widely, several strategic questions need answering regarding cell-level accuracy and uncertainty of gridded population estimates, the methods used to group/split cells into sample frame units, design effects of new sample designs, and feasibility of tools and methods to implement surveys across diverse settings.

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