Field Researcher Job in Kenya – NGO

Participatory Epidemiology Study

Closing date: October 9, 2020

Terms of Reference

Field Researcher – Participatory Epidemiology Study

Title: Participatory Epidemiology Field Researcher**

NOTE: This position is being re-advertised due to a limited number of female applicants during the first round. Therefore, only female candidates will be considered during this round of applications. However, candidates that have already applied will still be considered for the position regardless of gender.

Project Background: 

The Kenyan Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) maintain high rates of acute malnutrition despite significant investment by stakeholders for both programming and research. From 2009 to 2016, they were at or above Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 3+ between 5 and 15 times, triggering humanitarian responses that addressed acute malnutrition in the short term. The counties regularly experience prevalence rates of acute malnutrition that exceed emergency threshold levels, even when there are no obvious climate shocks. In response to these persistent and high levels of acute malnutrition, USAID recently launched the Nawiri program, a five-year evidence-based nutrition initiative which is being led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Isiolo and Marsabit counties. The project aims to increase stakeholder understanding of the drivers of persistent acute malnutrition, through a collaborative learning process involving local actors including communities, county systems and institutions, civil society and the private sector. The learning will be used to jointly design context-sensitive, systems-driven, multi-sectoral approaches to sustainably reduce acute malnutrition. This process will involve the implementation and testing of pilot activities that show potential in addressing acute malnutrition in concert with a number of research activities designed to inform the design of a second phase of the project. One of the key research activities in phase 1 is a participatory epidemiology (PE) study designed to better understand the seasonality and basic drivers of malnutrition from the community perspective. This process will be used to identify community-based interventions to address acute malnutrition in the context of the two counties.


The primary objectives of this exercise will be to generate evidence on the drivers and seasonality of acute malnutrition and to identify pilot interventions to be tested under Phase 1of the Nawiri project and inform the design of Phase 2. Where applicable the results will also be used to refine other project activities already underway. As part of these objectives the study aims to generate context specific information on the seasonality and drivers of acute malnutrition in Isiolo and Marsabit counties and identify interventions to address these drivers.

Activity Description

This activity will involve an in depth field study in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties using a participatory analysis to better understand the seasonality and drivers of acute malnutrition from a community perspective. This will include a series of comprehensive community consultations across different socio-economic, cultural and ecological zones within the two counties. These consultations will be framed around a set of structured participatory epidemiology (PE) methods which involves the standardization and repetition of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) methods to generate datasets from ranks, scores or proportions that can be analyzed statistically. The PE approach was first adapted to investigate human nutrition by Nawiri partner Tufts University in the Karamoja region of Uganda. A more detailed description of the approach and methods can be viewed at the following link:

Research Questions

In line with the objectives of generating evidence on the drivers and seasonality of acute malnutrition and identifying interventions to address these, the study will aim to answer the following research questions:

· How do communities explain malnutrition in children and mothers by reference to the diets of healthy and malnourished children?

· What are the differences in the diets of healthy vs. malnourished children in terms of specific food types and the seasonal availability of food types?

· What is the seasonality of malnutrition and related factors?

· How do communities describe and prioritize the causes of malnutrition in children and mothers?

· What are community participants suggestions and priorities for improving nutrition and what is the reasoning behind their views?

· What types of interventions do local communities feel Nawiri could support/pilot that will improve nutrition in the context of Isiolo and Marsabit counties?

The study will include the following stages:

  • An ethnographic study to develop a local language dictionary of key words and terms, for use in field methods
  • Recruitment of a team of Field Researchers fluent in the local languages of the study area
  • Training of the field team, this will be led by Tufts University and supported by the Team Leader
  • Finalize the sample for the study and field test the PE methods
  • Conduct the PE field assessments in Isiolo and Marsabit. This will include community consultations which will be carried out in at least 12 communities in each county. This exercise will use customized PE methods including monthly calendars and participatory causal diagrams to better understand the drivers and seasonality of acute malnutrition from the perspective of local communities
  • Compile field assessment findings
  • Follow up community consultations to identify demand driven pilots or interventions to address acute malnutrition. Building upon stage 5&6, community participants will be asked to propose interventions or activities to address acute malnutrition based on the drivers identified during the PE field assessments
  • Final write up

Field Researcher Roles and Responsibilities

The Field Researchers will be directly involved in the research data collection activities and will work under the supervision of a Team Leader with extensive PE expertise. This will involve conducting focus group discussions with groups of women in a minimum of 12 locations in each of the two counties. These focus group discussions will be structured around two key participatory exercises

(monthly calendars and causal diagrams). The field researcher will be trained in these methods prior to the PE study and they will be responsible for leading these exercises.

Specific responsibilities will include:

· Participate in the PE training

· Support the PE Team Leader to develop an assessment plan and identify a sampling frame and sample (locations for the filed assessment)

· Field test and help refine the PE tools for the field assessment

· Lead the focus group discussions and PE exercises during the assessment

· Gather and accurately record responses

· Ensure that the study results are collected and recorded in a format specified by the PE Team Leader

· Recognize and give account of problems in obtaining data and provide useful feedback to the Team Leader

· Support the analysis and compilation of the study findings

· The Field Reseachers will also be required to work closely with participating communities to share the study objectives and gain their support for the study

This will be a full time consultancy position for a period of two months indicatively starting around October 2020. During this timeframe the position will require extensive periods of field research.


The consultancy will involve two months indicatively between October and December 2020


The primary deliverable will be the completion of the PE study in the two counties along with the seasonal calendars and participatory causal diagrams from the PE study[1]

Reporting: The Field Researchers will work under the overall guidance of the PE Team Leader. **

Consultancy fees: The honorarium and other payments will be indicated in the contract and will be based on the candidate’s qualifications and experience. A daily subsistence and lodging allowance will be provided based on CRS and USAID policies. All other allowable costs associated with the study will be covered by Nawiri.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in relevant field e.g. social sciences, anthropology, veterinary sciences, development studies etc.

Work Experience: A minimum of 3 months relevant field research experience in the Kenyan ASALS.

Skills and Expertise:

The candidate should have:

· Fluency in one or more local languages spoken in the two counties. Priority will be given to candidates who live or are originally from Isiolo and Marsabit or neighboring communities

· Specific and demonstrated experience with participatory assessments or research such as Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) Household Economy Analysis (HEA) etc.

· Ability to collect and gather information in an objective way

· Active listener who captures exact response from respondents

· Experience in community mobilization and participation will be an asset

· Demonstrated expertise on pastoralist livelihoods will be an asset

· Relevant research/work experience in Isiolo and Marasabit counties or neighbouring communities will be an advantage

· Fluency in English and Kiswahili

· Priority will be given to female candidates given that the study will primarily be carried out with women

· Willingness to travel and stay overnight in rural and remote locations

· Willingness to work during weekends and holidays if required

Short listed candidates will be asked to participate in a face to face or online interview

Female candidates are encouraged to apply.

[1] This may increase slightly depending on the final site selection for the study

How to Apply

Send to

Deadline for application: October 9, 2020. Applications received after this date will not be considered.