This paper begins by reviewing some of the key lessons have been learnt to date about diaries as a method of collecting consumption and expenditure data at the household level. It will be argued that while a number of important insights on the design and application of diaries can be gleaned from the existing literature, many of these are based on speculation. It is therefore the aim of this paper to test a series of hypotheses concerning the utility of diaries and to do this we draw on our recent experiences from Tanzania and The Gambia where we have used diaries in rural and urban communities to measure total household expenditure over a 12 month period. Through these case studies we will provide a clearer picture of where the true strengths and weaknesses of diaries lie particularly in resource poor communities where illiteracy remains a serious problem.
Wiseman, V.; Conteh, L.; Matovu, F. Using diaries to collect data in resource-poor settings: questions on design and implementation. Health Policy and Planning (2005) 20 (6) 394-404. [DOI: 10.1093/heapol/czi042]