Innovations for Poverty Action seeks a qualified Senior Research Associate to manage a study which aims at scaling up interventions to alleviate hunger and poverty among rural farming households in Zambia. The study will be implemented with a private sector partner (a farming company working with small-scale farmers) in four provinces across Zambia. It will involve a randomized experiment that will test both impacts on productivity and threats to contractual relationships in a rural developing country setting. The Principal Investigators are Günther Fink (University of Basel), Kelsey Jack (Tufts University) and Felix Masiye (University of Zambia).
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, as well as the opportunity to work in close collaboration with a private sector developing country partner. Key areas of involvement will include: coordinating and collaborating with the private sector partner, designing survey questionnaires, recruiting, training and managing survey teams, designing and supervising logistics for the field activities, cleaning and analyzing both administrative data and survey data, assisting in the writing of project reports and policy memos, and liaising with key government and nongovernmental stakeholders.
In Zambia, small-scale agriculture employs the vast majority of the rural population, in spite of low levels of productivity and farming income. Recent studies have demonstrated that small scale farmers are most likely to deviate from their original production plan during the “hungry season” that precedes the harvest. Since harvest occurs once a year, most of these farmers run out of resources (cash savings or food reserves) about 3-4 months after harvest and must find other ways of meeting their consumption needs. Some of these strategies and behaviors include selling family labor as ganyu on the local labor market. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) conducted between 2013 and 2015 in Zambia’s Eastern province highlighted the importance of seasonal scarcity and showed that access to credit during the hungry season can increase the consumption and agricultural output of farming households. However, welfare and market based programs designed to provide access to hungry season consumption credits do not yet exist in Zambia.
The positive impacts of previous studies on seasonal loans and interests from policy makers and stakeholders to scaling up the approach, have motivated us to explore sustainable ways of scaling such program. The long-term uptake and cost-effective approach to such a program requires collaboration with institutions and organizations that already reach a network of farmers and interact with these farmers on a regular business. In Zambia, agribusinesses that contract small-scale farmers as outgrowers and provide other forms of loans (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to farmers fit such a description. The existing outgrower networks offer three advantages for supporting hungry season lending: (1) companies have already developed infrastructure to support lending and repayment, (2) explicit loan and lending relationships between the company and farmers have been established, and (3) subsequent harvests provide (imperfect) collateral for loans. This study will test the effects of scaling up with a private sector partner in terms of their overall profitability, and measure impacts for both the agribusiness and the farmers.
The Senior Research Associate will perform a variety of tasks including, but not limited to:
- Working closely with the implementation partner throughout the design and implementation of the study.
- Coordinate research and implementation efforts with all relevant stakeholders
- Developing and piloting the survey instruments, including programming 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 all data quality protocols are followed including auditing enumerators and performing daily checks of the incoming data; correcting the errors of staff iteratively to ensure the data is of the highest quality.
- Managing the data from collection at the household to delivery of a final, cleaned dataset.
- Managing the budget including tracking all expenses to ensure costs are within project funds.
- Managing the project budget and field expenses.
- 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 a strong plus.
- Demonstrated ability to lead staff efficiently to achieve project goals.
- 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
Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select “Senior Research Associate, Small-Scale Agriculture”. Most applications for research positions require you to include at minimum two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose (cover letter), CV, and transcripts.
Note that you are able to submit your application before your references complete their recommendation letters; however, you must include their contact information before submitting your application.
Given the volume of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.
Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. In recent decades, trillions of dollars have been spent on programs designed to reduce global poverty, but clear evidence on which programs succeed is rare, and when evidence does exist, decision-makers often do not know about it. IPA exists to bring together leading researchers and these decision-makers to ensure that the evidence we create leads to tangible impact on the world. Since its founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 575 leading academics to conduct over 650 evaluations in 51 countries. This research has informed hundreds of successful programs that now impact millions of individuals worldwide.
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** Please note that only qualified applicants will be contacted by the hiring manager.