Research Assistant (1 position)

Vacancy   August 2, 2021
Enviromental Health
August 11, 2021    [ Receiving Applications Closed ]

Program Description:

From Fuel to Pot:

An interdisciplinary partnership to address the role of solid fuel use in food preparation in the household in Malawi and Kenya. This project aims to better understand the role of solid fuel use (wood, charcoal, dung) in food preparation in informal settlements in Malawi and Kenya – given its adverse health impacts – in order to develop innovative and more contextually appropriate interventions.

The Research Assistant will be expected to co-construct and analyse data, draft reports and articles. Liaise with stakeholders and participate in visualization/ discussion meetings, as well as contribute to the dissemination of findings. Training on the particular qualitative research methods to be used in the project will be provided though an online programme co-designed by partners in the UK, Malawi and Kenya.

There may be the potential to become involved in developing future research proposals. The post will involve working with the project team to undertake qualitative research with community members in Ndirande to gain their perceptions of cooking on solid fuel, and the resulting harm from household air pollution. Data co-construction methods include walking interviews, focus groups and methods inspired by photovoice to explore community members’ experiences of using different types of fuel for cooking (full methods training will be provided).

The work will also involve using specialist equipment to measureexposure to air pollution (Purple Air monitors, on which training will be provided). There will be an expectation that the Research Assistant will work with key stakeholders to support the recruitment of potential participants and following data collection, facilitate consultations to find effective ways to generate discussion within the communities about the findings and the most contextually relevant intervention ideas.

Reports to: the in-country PI at MUBAS (Mr Kalumbi) on a day-to day basis and also to the PI for the Fuel to Pot Study, based in the UK (Dr Uny)


  •  Attend to a bespoke programme of training on the methods to be used in this project
  •  Organise all aspects of data collection (from introduction meetings in Ndirande, to recruiting participants, gaining consent, arranging interviews, training community members
  • Liaise with relevant stakeholders in the research sites (community representatives, government representatives, policy makers, traditional authority representatives, academics NGOs, faith leaders and others as required)
  •  Gather/ co-construct qualitative data that will include capture the daily experiences of people who gather or purchase solid fuel and prepare food in the household.

The methods to be used will involve photovoice (especially training community members to take their own photographs of what they perceive as the issues) and conducting walking interviews though the fuel to pot journey. Arrange transcription and translation (and will undertake a small number of transcriptions themselves).

  •  Code and analyse the transcribed data (using Nvivo software for which training will be provided) and share the basic analysis with the international team.
  •  Secure the storage and management of the data gathered and transcribed, in accordance with the data protection policy of their university.
  •  Take part in team and supervision meetings, as well as peer learning sessions organized by the PI and the UK team.
  •  Oversee tasks conducted by casual workers where required

Skills and Values

  •  Ability and willingness to walk and move around Ndirande Area (the research assistant will be accompanied by a casual worker during the days of the walking interviews). The research assistant will be provided with masks, gloves, and hand gel for them and the participants to use during field work for Covid mitigation and will take part in a risk assessment.
  •  Good administrative and project management skills
  •  Proven ability to establish rapport and interact effectively with project participants at all levels (from community member to policy maker), stakeholders and colleagues
  •  Excellent oral and written communication skills with high fluency in English and Chichewa
  •  self-motivation and the able to work independently
  •  Good IT and computing skills
  •  Time management skills including ability to prioritize workload
  •  Trustworthy and reliable
  •  Knowledge of public health policy and/or current issues in public health
  • Willingness to travel to local informal settlements
  •  Data analysis skills
  •  Skilled in translating and interpreting

Essential Requirements

  • Bachelor's Degree level in a relevant discipline within Health or Social Sciences (e.g.public health, psychology, social policy, economics, politics, sociology, economic and social history, biology, nursing, social work, medicine, pharmacy and other disciplines)
  •  Experience of conducting qualitative research or similar community based public health research work that involved data gathering, discussion and establishing rapport with members of the community
  •  Knowledge of current issues relating to Household Air Pollution/Air Pollution
  •  Knowledge of theories and practice of health behaviour change and/or intervention development and evaluation

Experience of working:

  • in multi-disciplinary academic teams or with multi-country teams
  • on multi-institutional projects
  •  in recruiting participants into qualitative research studies
  •  on writing proposals for external research funding
  •  of carrying out participatory research, preferably walking interviews
  •  in analysing qualitative data
  •  in academic writing and conference presentation

Behaviors and Competencies

We place great importance on behaviours and attitudes during the selection process to ensure that we bring people into the Institute who support the way we do business. In addition to the duties and responsibilities associated with this role, the applicant will be required to show evidence that they can meet the qualities associated with the following behavioural competencies: -

  1. Managing self and personal skills
  2. Delivering excellent service
  3. Finding solutions
  4. Embracing change
  5. Using resources effectively
  6. Engaging with the wider context
  7. Developing self and others
  8.  Working together
  9. Achieving results

Terms of employment

Employment is for six (6) months fixed contract as per MUBAS conditions with a probation period of the first three (3) months. The contracted will be extended to one year subject to funding availability.


Candidates should send the following to the address below:

  • A covering motivational letter
  • Their current curriculum vitae with telephone numbers and email address and three letters of referees with contact telephone numbers and email addresses
  • iCertified copies of academic and professional certificates


Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences

Private Bag 303


Blantyre 3


Attention: The Investigator, Fuel to Pot Study

Email applications should be addressed sent to with a copy to not later than 16:30 hours, 6th August 2021.

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