Internship Opportunity for Millennium Villages

by |October 2, 2014
MVP, agriculture, Ghana

Agriculture is one facet of the multi-sector Millennium Villages Project.

As the Earth Institute’s monitoring and evaluation team gears up for its final evaluation of 10 Millennium Village sites, we are currently recruiting a qualitative research assistant intern to support field researchers conducting process evaluation studies across East and West Africa.

Whereas much of the Millennium Villages Project’s monitoring and evaluation focuses on quantitative data – household surveys, monthly outcome monitoring, and sector-specific Millennium Development Goal indicators – the process evaluation module is a primarily qualitative approach to describing what the project implementation process has actually looked like in each village cluster, in the communities, and in partnership with local governments.

  • Do you think that quantitative indicators are an important tool in development but that they can’t tell the whole story?
  • Are you passionate about community and government interface? Eager to learn about the roles of these parties in a large, multi-country, rural development project?
  • Comfortable with “stakeholders,” “deliverables,” and “development interventions”?
  • …But posed to question what “local” really means, how an informant’s opinion does and does not represent culture per se, or to what end development politics might be thought of as de-politicized?
  • Curious how health and education or agriculture and income generation mutually implicate each other?
  • Interested in the cultural, political, and social factors that serve as barriers to and facilitators of project implementation?
  • Perhaps how development models are strategized, locally adapted, and readjusted over the course of their implementation?
  • Or what we might expect if these models are scaled up and replicated elsewhere?
  • What about how in-country development policies have changed over the past ten years?
MVP, community health workers, Malawi

Basic services provided by community health workers are one element of the Millennium Villages Project.

These are the kinds of questions and themes that the process evaluation module tackles. We draw from community focus groups, key informant interviews, policy studies, and other observational data to broaden the evaluation and promote better understanding of the Millennium Villages experience from the ground up.

The research assistant will assist with background research and data management of qualitative data collected by the lead researchers. This could include:

(1) transcribing, coding, and collating data from digitally voice recorded interviews and focus group discussions (under supervision and training);

(2) assisting researchers in data content analysis with a view toward drafting basic synthesis reports;

(3) conducting literature reviews on development interventions, evaluation methods or other related academic and development topics;

(4) helping to prepare background documents for upcoming process evaluations, such as compilation of interventions record from pre-existing site reports;

(5) researching national development policies for Millennium Villages Project countries and drafting brief policy memos on any links to the project;

(6) drafting brief “context memos” on political, social, cultural or economic factors related to sites’ implementation of the Millennium Villages Project model.

The Millennium Villages Project tries to bring clean water and sanitation to villages such as this one in Ghana.

The Millennium Villages Project tries to bring clean water and sanitation to villages such as this one in Ghana.

Candidates must be available to work 10-20 hours per week. Familiarity with international development projects, sub-Saharan Africa and social science research methods (qualitative and policy) required. Candidates should have excellent research and writing skills. Graduate students in the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs or other relevant disciplines are preferred. Highly qualified undergraduates may also be considered. Knowledge of French and expertise in public policy analysis would be very useful.

Please express interest by sending resume and cover letter to Matthew Harris at: mharris@ei.columbia.edu.

This internship provides unique experience for graduate students seeking insights into how development projects are implemented, monitored and evaluated. Successful candidates will gain invaluable data management and analysis skills, as well as exposure to project evaluation research methodologies. Students interested in community development, contemporary African history, applied anthropology, development policy and/or program evaluation are particularly encouraged to apply.

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