Expression of interest for a Malawi researcher to conduct preliminary scoping exercise

Region: Hivos Southern Africa
Office: Malawi
Application deadline: November 11, 2018


PROTECT is a multi-faceted international human rights project funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). Standing for: Protecting Rights, Openness and Transparency-Enhancing Civic Transformation, PROTECT seeks to foster open societies based on an expanded and protected civic space.

Lead partners are ARTICLE 19, Internews, the International Centre for Not-for-profit Law (ICNL) and the Humanist Institute Development Cooperation (Hivos). Several Expert Partners will be working with us to provide relevant domain expertise in specific fields, such as open data, media and research. This project will be delivered in Malawi, Malawi and Myanmar.

Utilising new approaches and innovations are at the heart of the PROTECT programme. Each of the PROTECT Consortium lead partners (hereafter called PROTECT) have proposed how the activity streams can tackle the interlinking issues across three challenges: Shrinking Civic Space, Pressure on Independent Media and Infomediaries; and Data for Transparency and Accountability.

PROTECT aims to do this by implementing five different activity streams:

  • Activity Stream 1: ENABLING THE POWER OF DATA. AS1 focusses on problem-driven mobilization and use of data to co-create local solutions to governance and development problems, so that civil society actors, particularly women, can overcome obstacles in utilizing the power and potential of data analysis to effect change.
  • Activity Stream 2: DEFINING LEGAL AND POLICY LANDSCAPE. Supporting the development and adoption of laws and policies that create an enabling legal and policy environment in which open societies can thrive
  • Activity Stream 3: HOLISTIC PROTECTION. Support initiatives/ or mechanisms that protect journalists, HRDs and other civil society actors from precarious safety and security situations, facing legal and digital censorship, physical danger, gender-based threats and high levels of impunity
  • Activity Stream 4: REMAKING THE MODEL. Equipping media actors with tools to enhance their sustainability, financially and through the impact of their mission.
  • Activity Stream 5: RECLAIMING THE NARRATIVE. This stream will amplify voices of civil society, particularly women, stigmatised or marginalised the tools to fight back, build strong counter narratives and reframe key debates.

However, further study is required to assess how these activity streams are adopted and applied to the country level.

Scope of Work

As a first phase, PROTECT needs a better understanding of the general ‘landscape’ of civic space in targeted countries and assess the feasibility of a range of innovations that aim to expand and protect it in each country. We are recruiting in-country researchers to study and compile concise reports, one per country, for use by all PROTECT partners. Called the Country Context Analysis Report, this document will provide a basis for selecting activity types most appropriate for the country in question and spearhead more in-depth activity stream-based research.

We require a researcher with a good understanding of civic space issues in Malawi to conduct this initial scoping exercise. The researcher should have strong qualitative research skills and feel comfortable engaging a range of stakeholders, from marginalised people to senior government officials and private sector CEOs.

The specific aims are:

  • Provide PROTECT with a contextual overview of laws, policies practices, media landscape and civil society actors relevant to accountability mechanisms, civic space, media models and safety and security of targeted beneficiaries in Malawi
  • Lay groundwork for further in-depth baseline research for proposed activities, innovations and assumptions on the streams mentioned above
  • Gather essential information for PROTECT to test feasibility of proposed innovations at the country level (key experts, allies, blockages, etc…)

The researcher will be provided with background papers on proposed innovations in each activity stream, what the activity streams envisions, what the innovation/s would be and key questions that need to be answered to understand the feasibility of the innovation/s, as well as key materials the Country Researcher should read. The researcher can reach out to the activity stream leads to seek clarification as needed.  The researcher will subsequently conduct interviews with a range of stakeholders, identified and approached in coordination with the country coordinator and/or the activity stream leads.

Following the interview phase, the researcher will consolidate findings in the Country Context Analysis draft report and present findings to consortium for feedback. The researcher will incorporate the feedback, do additional research as needed and deliver the final report. As part of this exercise, the researcher is also expected to attend a two day workshop in early february 2019 to facilitate knowledge transfer to country teams and support further research exercises.

 The report will be developed in conjunction with PROTECT’s research working group and “with the country coordinator and the Activity Stream Leads.” whom the researcher is expected to work with closely.

Research Questions: The country researcher will answer the following questions:

Part one: Concerning the Challenges (Shrinking Civic Space, Pressure on Independent Media and Info-mediaries, and Data for Transparency and Accountability).

For each challenge separately, analyze:

  • What are the most important issues regarding challenges in Malawi?
  • What are the trends regarding issues and how are they evolving?
  • Who are the main (contesting) actors/stakeholders (Government/Private Sector/Civil Society/Other) in these aspects/issues?
  • Which parts of the population are most affected by these issues? Distinguish between men/women and socio-economic strata.

Part two: Activity Streams. Review the PROTECT background papers on activities/innovations. For each Activity Stream elaborate:

  • Who are the stakeholders relevant to the Activity streams, which of these can be considered potential partners/adversaries in the activity streams?
  • Given your analysis in part 1, assess the opportunities and challenges for each stream.
  • Advise on the most promising entry points/windows of opportunities for each activity stream
  • Advise on further research that may be necessary for each activity stream.

There are more focused questions for each innovation/activity background paper for guidance, which should be considered when answering the above.


We expect the researcher to use her/his  country knowledge to identify relevant informants from a variety of backgrounds above those selected here. Input for selection of informants may also be provided by key internal stakeholders as below.

Internal stakeholders:

  • PROTECT Country Coordinator and country teams
  • Relevant activity stream experts in lead partner organisations
  • Where relevant, expert partners
  • PROTECT Research group (coordinates research globally)

External stakeholders: To be identified during initial discussions between researcher and country coordinator and PROTECT research working group.


Researchers will adhere to the timeline and methodology developed below. Selected candidates are able to propose adaptations to these approaches if they consider them necessary. However research must remain comparable with similar exercises underway in other target countries and must be approved by the Research Working Group.

Before the research commences, PROTECT will provide the selected consultant with a report that includes a PESTLE analysis within the context of the activity streams, proposed innovations in each stream, why they have been selected, and key questions for researchers to answer.

Research  phase (Nov 11th – Jan 18th, 2019)

Desk Research

  • Conduct gap analysis: Research and identify relevant and useful existing primary and secondary research to fill gaps in PROTECT’s knowledge around activity streams, with the view of flagging areas for 2nd stage of research in 2019.
  • With country coordinators, locate key informants for interview on both proposed innovations/activities and to provide effective country context
  • Interview DFID and invite them to include questions for interview (Interviews will be arranged by lead partners).

 Field Research

  • Interviews are expected to be the primary data collection method. Researchers will arrange interviews with in country experts during this phase. Country coordinator and AS leads will work closely with researchers to identify informants and arrange interviews.
  • Use list of stakeholders supplied in section three of this ToR alongside additional individuals and institutions chosen by researcher. Interview informants with goal of assessing feasibility of proposed innovations,

Analysis and reporting phase

  • Report: Findings, conclusions and initial recommendations for PROTECT of no more than 30 pages (key deliverables draft report 4/01/19, final report due on 18/01/19)
  • From desk research and interviews, provide contextual overview of five activity streams
  • Identify stakeholders and beneficiaries PROTECT might engage to reach objectives
  • Participate in workshops supporting teams to continue with further research and implementation (Malawi early February)


  • Candidates should have in-depth knowledge of country in question. Ideally a locally or regionally based consultant, aware of cultural norms in Malawi
  • Experience of working with marginalised groups, ideally including facilitating engagement in decision making processes for development/advocacy programmes
  • Strong qualitative research skills. Ideally with an ability to analyse complex qualitative data to provide an insightful and actionable report. Experienced in conducting in-depth interviews with experts, target beneficiaries, and senior decision makers e.g. government officials, CEOs/private sector, media organisations, economists. Specific skills should include:
    • Strong interviewing skills, including the capacity to conduct semi-structured interviews, to question and probe on key issues. Ability to pick on body language and other non verbal clues
    • Utilizing specialised qualitative techniques (e.g. projective techniques) to help elicit responses and uncover new insights from respondents.
    • Can demonstrate ability to work on complex themes and provide PROTECT with a deep understanding of why individuals think what they think or do what they do.
    • Ability to consider power dynamics, gender relations and sexual identity in research and innovations
    • Experiences of intersectionality and how this can be applied to research
  • Demonstrable experience in presenting and validating research with stakeholders to provide project recommendations.
  • Ideally candidate can demonstrate broad understanding on freedom of expression (including RTI), media freedom, accountability and governance issues. Experience in conducting research above fields an advantage but not essential
  • Strong academic backgrounds reflecting the requirements stated above

Timeline and key deliverables

  • We will convene an initial kick off meeting between the researcher, the country coordinator and/or teams and PROTECT MEL lead to introduce project and plan research phase 5/11/18
  • Regular email updates on progress will be required
  • Mid term check in meeting with Research working group to assess progress and troubleshoot issues (to be agreed with researcher)
  • Pre-reporting check in point with Research Working group: (to be agreed with researcher)
  • Draft report due 4/1/19
  • Feedback 11/1/19
  • Final report due 18/1/19
  • Researcher attendance at country workshop: Early February 2019 in Malawi.

Submission of expression of interest:

Deadline for expressions of interest: 11/11/18 (NB proposals will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, an early application is strongly encouraged)

Interested researchers should contact George Morris, ARTICLE 19’s Senior Monitoring, Evaluation Officer at Include a brief covering letter, a proposal no more than two pages describing how the researcher will address the ToR, observations and any potential adaptations of methodology, include a CV outlining relevant experience, a budget and tentative timelines. The budget will include his or her day rate, travel expenses and other expected costs. The total budget is £7,000 per country plus travel and workshop costs