Temporary Research Associate

Innovations for Poverty Action, Zambia

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
1 to 3 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
25th August, 2019

Job Description

Innovations for Poverty Action seeks a qualified Temporary Research Associate to manage a study that will evaluate a new financial development program designed to improve financial access and financial education in under-served villages in Luapula Province, Zambia. The program, Financial Inclusion through Traditional Leaders (FIT), has been developed by FSD Zambia (FSDZ). Financial inclusion activities under FIT include, primarily, the creation of new savings groups in unserved and underserved areas. Financial education activities include the delivery of trainings with community members. The study will involve a randomized experiment that will use several interventions to examine the impact of the program’s three-pronged approach. The Principal Investigators are Dean Karlan (Professor, Northwestern University), Jessica Goldberg (Associate Professor, University of Maryland), Alfredo Burlando (Associate Professor, University of Oregon), Bilal Zia (Senior Economist, World Bank) and Peter Hangoma (Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Zambia). The PIs lead on research design, questionnaire design and data analysis, and they provide the intellectual leadership for the project.

This position provides an excellent opportunity to gain extensive hands‐on experience in a field setting and to have significant management responsibility in a vibrant organization undertaking cutting‐edge development research. Key areas of involvement will include: piloting, designing survey questionnaires, recruiting, training and managing survey teams, designing and supervising logistics for the field activities, cleaning and analyzing survey data and assisting in the writing of project reports and policy memos.

Recent economics research suggests that strong traditional leadership improves state capacity and action. However, the mechanism through which formal institutions affect government policies are not well understood or explored in the economics literature. In addition, these studies are unable to explain why traditional institutions may or may not lead to positive outcomes, which makes it difficult to design policy to leverage these traditional institutions.

The proposed research hopes to cover these gaps through a randomized control trial (RCT) that will be implemented through a phase-in expansion of the FIT program over 120 villages in Luapula province. Unlike other financial inclusion programs, FIT places traditional leaders at the centre of its implementation. Under the FIT program, Luapula Chiefs will work together with local headmen to facilitate the delivery of financial inclusion and financial education interventions. Specifically, FIT aim to: (i) build the capacity of traditional leaders to initiate and reinforce financial inclusion, (ii) implement sustainable financial education and (iii) facilitate SG expansion through chiefs and local leaders. The evaluation will provide insights on the way in which traditional leaders may complement development programs and, more generally, the way in which traditional leaders affect the implementation of policies. We will measure impacts using household surveys and surveys with village headpersons. The position will be based in Luapula province, Zambia.

We are looking for a commitment period of 4-6 months, beginning from September 2019.

Applications will be interviewed on a rolling basis, and you are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Only short-listed applicants will be contacted.


The Temporary Research Associate will perform a variety of tasks including, but not limited to:

  • Developing and piloting the survey instruments, including programming questionnaires for digital data collection; managing the translation and back-translation of the survey into the local language.
  • Hiring, training, and managing the field teams that will conduct the data collections.
  • Managing all field logistics, procuring products, and getting approvals from local authorities.
  • Ensuring strict data quality protocols are followed including auditing enumerators, performing daily checks of the incoming data, implementing controls to minimize errors, coordinating back checks and correcting errors to ensure collected data is of the highest quality, accuracy and integrity.
  • Producing weekly reports on the progress of data collection activities.
  • Managing the data from collection at the household and village to delivery of a final, cleaned dataset.
  • Managing the budget including tracking all expenses to ensure costs are within project funds.
  • Coordinating with relevant partners and stakeholders to ensure interests are aligned and accounted for in study implementation.
  • Participating in meetings with key stakeholders and presenting the study where necessary.
  • Reporting issues arising in the field to the researchers, partner and line manager.
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations of local research ethics boards and other regulatory bodies.
  • Preparing an end-of-project report including descriptive statistics, design information, protocol and discussion of results.
  • Performing related duties as assigned by supervisor
  • Maintaining compliance with all organizational policies and procedures.


  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including ability to effectively communicate with internal and external stakeholders (implementing partner, partner organisations and principal investigators).
  • A Bachelor's or Master’s degree in economics, public policy, international development, public health or related fields.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Excellent project management and organizational skills with strong quantitative skills.
  • Knowledge of Stata; programming and other technical knowledge such as survey software a plus.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead staff efficiently to achieve project goals.
  • Ability to work independently and to carry out assignments to completion within parameters of instructions given, prescribed routines, and standard accepted practices
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently and a team player.
  • Experience working (preferably in a research-related capacity) in developing countries.
  • Familiarity with randomized controlled trials.
  • Excellent computer proficiency (MS Office – Word, Excel)
  • Must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines, while maintaining a positive attitude and providing exemplary customer service
  • Ability to work independently and to carry out assignments to completion within parameters of instructions given, prescribed routines, and standard accepted practices


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