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databaseMalawi National Data Archive (MNADA) is a web-based storage house where data from various surveys is documented. This focuses on raw data, which is in most cases at household levels. It documents the type of survey, kind of information that was collected and definitions of various records that were collected during the survey. It serves as a portal for researchers to browse, search, compare, apply for access, and download relevant census or survey datasets, questionnaires, reports and other information.

It was originally developed to support the establishment of national survey data archives. The application is used by a diverse and growing number of national, regional, and international organizations. MNADA, as with other IHSN tools, uses the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI), XML-based international metadata standard.


Log on to MNADA Website on www.nada.nsomalawi.mw. To access data set please register online. Click here to register.




The default catalog created when a MNADA instance is installed is the Central Data Catalog. All studies uploaded to the MNADA are visible, searchable and accessible from the Central Data Catalog. For many institutions the Central Data Catalog will remain the only catalog in their MNADA instance. For some institutions being able to divide the contents of the Central Data Catalog into more refined collections will be desirable. 


Collections are sub categories of the Central Data Catalog. They allow administrators of a MNADA instance to group studies into what can be thought of as sub-catalogs of the Central Data Catalog. This has a number of benefits both from the user and the administrator perspective. From the users’ perspective, being able to filter and view groups (collections) of studies that logically belong together makes finding what they are looking for easier. From the administrators’ perspective, the ability to create collections of studies that may logically belong together facilitates the ability to decentralize the management of each collection of studies to specific administrators (for example collections can be managed by different departments in an institution).

NOTE: The creation of collections will in general only be useful and necessary for large catalogs or for catalogs that desire more decentralized management of groups of studies by different departments.


Studies are carried out to gather more knowledge about a subject. Studies may gather information from a number of different sources in order to answer the questions asked. The information gathered for a study will, in the context of MNADA catalogs, usually come from either a census or a surveys. It is therefore not uncommon to hear the terms survey and study used interchangeably when listening to people talk about their MNADA catalog.


Metadata are data about the data. They are not the actual data collected from the survey, but rather the information that describes the survey process and the data. The MNADA uses the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) – ddialliance.org – standard for the presentation of metadata for each study. The DDI document (which is an XML document) is prepared outside the MNADA application either manually or using a tool like the Nesstar Publisher – nesstar.com – and then imported into the MNADA. The detailed information about the survey is searchable down to the variable level for each survey in the catalog.


The MNADA allows for the level of access to datasets for studies to be controlled at the study level. In other words the level of restriction can differ from study to study and can be defined on a scale ranging from direct access, with no restrictions, to no access. Briefly the available access types are:

  • Data not available - data are not available for this study.
  • Direct Access Data Files - data shared under this policy can be downloaded without any restrictions. The user is not required to be logged into the site and no personal information is collected on the person downloading the data.
  • Public Use Data Files - data shared under this policy requires that the user be logged in and registered on the site before they are able to download the data. The user is required to agree to a terms of use of the data and the application keeps records of who downloads the data.
  • Licensed Data Files - data shared under this policy requires that the user be logged in and registered on the site. Users are also required to fill in and submit a detailed application form listing their reasons for wanting access to the data. Once the user submits the application form the system informs the system administrator that an application has been made. In order for the person to get access to the data the system administrator needs to review the application and approve it.
  • Data available in an Enclave - under this policy no data is shared through the application. Users submit an application to access the data at a secure facility physically located on the premises of the data producer or a facility nominated by the data producer.
  • Data available from external repository – The MNADA allows for studies and their metadata to be listed in a MNADA catalog but for a link to be created to another site when the data for that study are available elsewhere.


Citations are references that can be included at the study level which point to published works that have used the data from a particular study. In many cases this will be a reference to a Journal Article, Working paper, Newspaper article etc. Such resources are useful to researchers who are interested in seeing how the data have been used before. They are also a good way of showing the funders of surveys that the data are being used for policy and research purposes and thus are an indicator of some of the impact a study has had.

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