Research and Learning Coordinator - Washington DC, United States

Duration : 24 Months (with possibility to extend)
Start date : ASAP

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Action Against Hunger has received a five-year contract from the Power of Nutrition to conduct operational research in Ethiopia related to select innovations in the community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) that aim to improve the coverage and cost-effectiveness of treatment. The operational research component is led by Action Against Hunger USA in partnership with partners, including UNICEF and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, among others.

The Power of Nutrition (PON) Ethiopia operational research study aims to address critical gaps in linking knowledge to effective action on acute malnutrition, including how to scale proven innovative approaches to treatment, as well as their implications for the broader policy-level environment. As such, the study will focus on two specific innovations in the management of acute malnutrition: 

1. Family MUAC. Family MUAC is an approach that consists of equipping caregivers to measure and monitor their own children’s MUAC given the provision of training and MUAC tapes. Caregivers are taught to self-refer their child for treatment if/when they are identified as acutely malnourished. The goal of this approach is to achieve early detection and treatment for acutely malnourished children.

2. Modified dosage. This approach consists of changing acute malnutrition treatment protocols from the national standard to alternative, ‘optimized’ dosing regimens whilst still maintaining comparable treatment outcomes. As current and projected resources are insufficient to meet the total burden of wasting in Ethiopia, there is need to explore ways to increase the cost-effectiveness of treatment. The use of a modified dosage protocol may contribute to achieving such advances by reducing the cost of product per child treated and cured.  

The Research and Learning Coordinator will be based in Washington, DC, with up to 30% travel to Ethiopia to oversee study design and implementation. 

The position will work directly with the study’s Principal Investigator and the in-country research team. S/he will oversee and support the entire research study across all stages, from study design, to ethical approval, training, data collection, analysis, documentation, and dissemination.  

S/he will be the central interface for all matters related to the PON study, including close collaboration with the Action Against Hunger Ethiopia country team, the PI and research team within the US Office, select academic/university partners, as well as all PON consortium partners (UNICEF, MoH, etc.) and donors (e.g. PON, Eleanor Crook Foundation, etc.).  

The position will be responsible for supporting the technical implementation of the research study in the Ethiopia including attending and leading protocol trainings, field-level monitoring visits, troubleshooting, data quality monitoring and tracking. He/she will be responsible for the overall implementation of the research study in the country office through budget monitoring, quality reporting to Action Against Hunger stakeholders and donor in line with the internal rules and regulations, funding regulations and core values of the organization.

Key activities in your role will include

Partnerships & Engagement (10%): 

The Research and Learning Coordinator will serve as the primary interface between Action Against Hunger and other stakeholders in Ethiopia, including: consortium and academic partners, donors and other stakeholders. This function is expected to include:

  • Strategically engaging in partnership with the Ethiopia MoH and UNICEF as implementing partners of the project, as well as with relevant donors, including PON, ECF and others.
  • Engaging with country-level nutrition coordination mechanisms (e.g., Nutrition Cluster, technical working groups) to ensure alignment with project activities and a clear pathway to uptake and scale-up, dependent upon results.
  • Leveraging scientific partnerships with key academic partners with whom Action Against Hunger will engage closely to design and implement the study.
  • Leading engagement with the study’s technical advisory group at key moments in the study’s design and implementation to ensure expert feedback is adequately voiced and addressed.
  • Capitalizing on the strengths of Action Against Hunger to ensure that the breadth of our PON-related study activities and expertise is well-represented internally and externally, among other stakeholder audiences.

Coordination of Study Design & Implementation (40%): 

The Research and Learning Coordinator will provide overall technical coordination for the design and implementation of the study, collaborating with the in-country team to develop and execute measures to ensure quality delivery according to protocols and donor agreements. This function is expected to include:

  • Together with the PI, research partners, and ET team, leading the development of a feasible operational research scope and design ensuring all relevant national and international ethical approvals are obtained.
  • Collaborating with PI research partners, and ET team to develop data collection tools, data entry mechanisms, and databases, as well as ensure their proper utilization to track and monitor during implementation.
  • Monitoring data collection to ensure proper informed consent process, quality data, and fidelity to protocol.
  • Tracking enrollment progression and participant completion of follow-up appointments, working across teams to minimize loss to follow-up.
  • Collaborating with the PI to analyze and contextualize the data, highlighting key results.

PON Project Management (25%): 

The Research and Learning Coordinator will serve as the primary accountable project manager in-country. This function is expected to include:

  • Leading the day-to-day management of the PON award, in collaboration with the PI and ET country team.
  • Providing technical oversight for and input into the program design, development and implementation
  • Ensuring appropriate systems to track progress against delivery and in spending so that the project is implemented on-time, on-budget, and with the highest quality execution.
  • Act as a research and nutrition technical support for the PON research team in Ethiopia
  • Ensuring that all potential project risks are appropriately identified, and proactively managed and/or mitigated in a timely basis.
  • Leading on-time reporting to partners and donors.

Study Sensitization & Dissemination (10%):

The Research and Learning Coordinator will serve:

  • Advancing Action Against Hunger’s thought leadership through communication of progress and/or results through various dissemination channels and working groups
  • Driving dissemination towards systematic integration of evidence into policies, programming and positioning in Ethiopia and beyond.
  • Leveraging study findings and learnings to inform the design of new programming among Action Against Hunger’s country teams in the region.
  • Together with the PI and the rest of project team, prepare project related reports and Policy brief on identified topics.

Other Research Activities Support (15%):

The Research and Learning Coordinator may support on other research-related activities, such as:

  • Support on proposal development and research study design for new research opportunities, both in Ethiopia and across the wider Action Against Hunger research portfolio.
  • Participate in global-level research and nutrition technical expertise coordination and working group meetings (as necessary/relevant).
  • Backstop other research activities in support of the Senior Research and Learning Specialist and other members of the Technical Services and Innovation Team.
  • Support on other activities as requested by the Technical Services and Innovation Team.

Supervisory Responsibilities

  • The Research and Learning Coordinator will provide technical supervision and oversight for the in-country project staff. They will have no direct line management responsibilities.

Do you meet the profile required criteria?
  • The ideal candidate will have experience working in research projects and/or monitoring and evaluation in the field. We are seeking an individual who is adept at following study protocols, who has good judgment and problem-solving skills, and has strong communication skills and documentation habits.
  • The person needs to have well-developed interpersonal skills (to be able to develop good rapport with data collectors and other in-country stakeholders) and have experience with Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programming.
  • A master’s degree from an accredited college or university in a major social or health science field of study, preferably Nutrition and Public Health with 4 years relevant experience in the field of clinical and operational nutrition research, field research coordination and management, research and evidence generation for public health and nutrition programs.
  • Experience organizing and participating in field-level data collection as part of a research study or program monitoring and evaluation.
  • Good understanding and experience on local research ethical approval steps and procedures.
  • Training in and proven knowledge around nutrition programming in low-income countries.
  • Knowledge of MS Office Suite required and comfortable working with computers with minimal IT support.
  • Experience with mobile data collection tools (e.g. Kobo) (preferred but not required)
  • Willingness to travel extensively to and within Ethiopia, include remote locations with basic living conditions.
  • Fluent in English is a requirement.
  • Proven experience with field work, preferably Ethiopia.
  • Possess strong organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Possess significant team management skills.
  • Ability to take initiative and prioritize multiple tasks with minimum supervision.
  • Genuine interest in and commitment to the mission and principles of Action Against Hunger.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, ability to work both independently and as a member of a team
We provide equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees & qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender-identity, ancestry, sexual orientation, national origin, age, handicap, disability, marital status, or status as a veteran. ACF-USA complies with all applicable laws governing nondiscrimination in employment.

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