Senior Research Associate, Sierra Leone Mining Project - IPA

Sierra Leone
Language Requirement 
Length of Commitment 
One year
Start Date 
February 20, 2020

IPA Sierra Leone in partnership with Project on Resources and Governance (PRG) is seeking a highly-motivated and conscientious research professional to work on a project on governance of mineral resources in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is rich in precious minerals and mining sector is hugely important to the country’s economy, representing over 90% of its exports. The (Senior) Research Associate (S/RA) will work closely with the National Minerals Agency (NMA) of Sierra Leone to design and implement policies and monitoring tools for NMA’s staff who enforce regulations in the country’s artisanal mining sector. Successful implementation of this project will help NMA determine which policies lead to higher performance from its staff and reduce corruption and smuggling of minerals. The S/RA will play a vital role in maintaining a close working relationship with NMA and other stakeholders in country. The S/RA will work under guidance of researchers at the Project on Resources and Governance (PRG).

Project on Resources and Governance (PRG) is a research initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) that aims to increase the quality and use of evidence in policymaking in resource-rich countries. Developing countries with abundant natural resources are often affected by corruption, environmental degradation, and social unrest – outcomes sometimes described as a “resource curse.” While this problem has been well-characterized, comparably little is known about what policies and programs effectively address features of the resource curse. PRG seeks to address that gap by implementing and supporting evaluations of governance and developmental interventions in resource-rich countries.

The right candidate will be enthusiastic about learning, care deeply about the quality of research, and be comfortable navigating new settings and dynamics. We are a small team that values open and direct communication, critical thinking, and active collaboration. We are looking to add a similarly-minded person to our team. Commitment to quality and a fastidious and thorough approach to work are essential qualities for a successful candidate.

The S/RA will be based in Freetown, Sierra Leone with travels to mining areas of the country.

We strongly encourage people of color, women, and disabled and neurodivergent people to apply for this position. The position is open to non-U.S. citizens and current work authorization in the U.S. is not required.


  • Technical support and implementation of a training plan for NMA field officers (30%)
    • Work with NMA officials to implement training program for NMA’s field officers. This will include finalization of training materials, development of training protocol, fine-tuning set-up of mobile data collection tools, and leading training sessions as appropriate. The training is expected to take place in NMA’s four regional offices.
  • Design and implement an M&E system for the program pilot (40%)
    • Design and implement a data management system to monitor and measure intervention take-up and compliance
    • Gather qualitative and quantitative data on program implementation
    • Develop a feedback system for NMA based on collected data to continuously improve the program implementation
    • Report inconsistencies and risks of the program implementation to the researchers
  • Manage Key Relationships and serve as liaison between NMA and researchers (30%)
    • Maintain ongoing communications and in-person meetings with key decisionmakers and policymakers
    • Represent researchers’ interest at policy conversations and at events
    • Keep researchers informed about developments in Sierra Leone’s mining sector and government in general and pertinent policy conversations.


  • A degree (Master’s preferred) in economics, political science, public policy, international development, or related fields.
  • Excellent project management and organizational skills, meticulous attention to detail, ability to work independently;
  • Experience working (preferably in the field) research-related capacity
  • Experience liaising with a wide range of stakeholders, in particular, experience working with academics, policymakers, and civil society partners in developing country settings;
  • Strong quantitative skills and experience with statistical analysis packages (such as Stata or R) and GIS software is preferred;
  • Cultural sensitivity and demonstrated ability to work successfully with diverse constituencies.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English.
  • Ability to work independently, problem-solve, and enlist support when needed.
  • Must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
  • Experience working in Sierra Leone or the West African context would be preferable;
  • Knowledge of randomized controlled trials and econometrics.
  • Knowledge of measurement and instrument development.
  • Experience supervising data collection and teams of field workers. 
  • Demonstrated ability to lead staff efficiently to achieve project goals.
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently and a team player.

Desired Qualifications

  • Experience working (preferably in a research-related capacity) in developing countries in the region.
  • Working experience managing randomized controlled trials and other quasi-experimental designs
  • Someone wanting to pursue a PhD track and undertaken data analysis

Physical Requirements:

  • Ability and willingness to travel to various project sites
  • Ability to safely and successfully perform the essential job functions consistent with government standards, including meeting qualitative and/or quantitative productivity standards
  • Ability to maintain regular, punctual attendance consistent with IPA standards
  • Must be able to talk, listen and speak clearly on telephone

How to Apply