United States of America: Social Science Researcher (Consultant)

Organization: US Agency for International Development
Country: United States of America
Closing date: 04 Feb 2018

Opportunity in Washington, DC

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contracted through ZemiTek partnered with CAMRIS International, to recruit and hire a qualified individual for the following position:

Title: Social Science Researcher (Consultant)**

United States Agency for International Development/Bureau of Africa/Conflict, Peacebuilding and Governance Division (CPG)

With more than 30 years’ experience providing information technology (IT) and management consulting services worldwide, Rosa Caldas, formed ZemiTek in 2007. Based in the Washington, DC metro area, ZemiTek delivers solutions to the federal government by supporting agencies such as USAID, US Patent and Trademark Office, US Department of Justice, US Department of Agriculture, and Department of Homeland Security, among others; and internationally to their missions in Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

CAMRIS International is among the top 20 USAID contractors for the third year in a row. CAMRIS realizes innovative solutions to health and development challenges through high-quality, cost-effective programs and research management services. With experience working in more than 80 countries, CAMRIS combines proven systems with today’s most effective, evidence-based best practices to improve the lives of people around the world.


USAID Africa Bureau is seeking a literature review to identify and examine best practices in social and behavior change communication efforts[1] by African governments. This initial analytic effort will contribute to USAID Africa Bureau objectives to expand its analytic capacity and enhance its ability to better understand how African governments are using SBCC campaigns to improve the wellbeing of African citizens, with an emphasis on informing USAID activity design.

Whether and how governments lead and engage with citizens on issues that affect their daily lives can be critical for addressing development challenges across sectors. The relationship between the state and society can be key in determining the success of interventions in health, food security, conflict, economic growth, education and the environment. For example, the state may play a crucial role in changing behaviors, from convincing farmers to shift away from traditional farming practices or crops, to encouraging hand washing or proper burial practices to protect public health. Conversely, when the state-society relationship is dysfunctional and fails to produce outcomes that are considered to be legitimate or effective, it contributes to state fragility and impedes development. For example, in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, citizens resisted efforts to contain Ebola, rejected government-issued health and safety advice and, at times, attacked health workers.

This research will focus on efforts by African governments to change citizens’ attitudes and behaviors to address development challenges, thereby contributing to the body of knowledge on how the state-citizen relationship impacts the effectiveness of government efforts. The findings will serve to inform USAID programming that aims to strengthen good governance through support for behavior change communication efforts that help address the challenges to African development across sectors.

Much of USAID’s democracy, human rights and governance (DRG) efforts in sub-Saharan African involve changing attitudes and behaviors to build trust between citizens and the state. For example, changing attitudes and behavior is at the heart of protection of minority rights, bringing fairness to the treatment of women and girls, establishing fair and peaceful political processes, fighting corruption, mitigating conflict, or promoting respect for free speech. However, DRG approaches frequently place the emphasis on the institutions we hope to reform – legislatures, accountability bodies, the media – rather than on how those institutions relate to the individuals they represent and serve.

Disasters, epidemics and security crises result in much higher mortality levels in countries suffering from poor governance and distrust both of external actors and national and local governments. In Southern Africa, HIV was initially dismissed as a fiction or a creation of the West to harm Africans. In countries such as Nigeria and Mali, the devastating effects of violent extremism are magnified in areas where trust in the national government has been eroded and citizens are unable to engage effectively with their leaders. Disaster risk reduction programs are undermined by poor citizen engagement – a major shortfall in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, and Southern Africa where natural disasters are a major threat to development. Understanding how governments can overcome distrust, improve their perceived legitimacy, and manage communications can strengthen USAID’s programming responses.

Are governments that demonstrate legitimate governance more effective at changing citizens’ behavior than others? If so, what strategies can be employed to address gaps in the trust in public institutions that weaken legitimacy and effectiveness? This research will examine African governments’ efforts to influence societies’ behaviors and how the state-citizen relationship supports or undermines these efforts. This initial cross-sectoral analysis will focus on examples across development sectors such as health, crisis response, agriculture, and food security where BBC approaches are used.

[1] Health Communication and Capacity Collaboration defines SBBC as “the use of communication to change behavior, including service utilization, by positively influencing knowledge, attitudes and social norms. SBCC coordinates messaging across a variety of communication channels to reach multiple levels of society.”


The purpose of this research activity is to identify best practices in SBCC efforts by African governments to address development challenges and to identify examples of African cases of behavior change communication efforts for potential more in-depth analysis.

Literature Review

Researchers will:

  • Conduct a literature review on SBCC efforts by African governments to address development challenges.
  • Identify examples of cases of behavior change communication efforts in development.
  • Summarize the state-of-the-art in SBCC by governments, from the national to the local levels, working to advance development and resilience to disasters, epidemics and security crises.
  • Clarify what the literature suggests in terms of effective African-led and donor-funded SBCC efforts, and the role of the state-citizen relationship in such effectiveness.

Specifically, the review will examine literature, project documents and relevant quantitative data and indices, and include consultations with USAID staff or other stakeholders as appropriate. Illustrative research questions will include:

  • What are examples of effective and ineffective SBCC efforts?
  • What are the factors that affect the relative success of government-led SBCC efforts?
  • What are some of the primary reasons that individuals and groups have resisted or ignored BCC efforts? Was trust in public institutions a major factor?

Key Deliverables

There will be three key deliverables:

  • A report of the findings of the literature review not to exceed 30 pages (excluding annexes), including an executive summary (no more than three pages) and a complete bibliography of all sources reviewed.
  • A presentation of the findings to USAID staff with accompanying slides provided electronically.
  • A brainstorming meeting with USAID staff, with the purpose of discussing examples of African cases of behavior change communication efforts for potential more in-depth analysis.

The timeframe for the literature review activity is January to June 2018. This timeframe includes the following internal deadlines after the start of the activity (dates to be specified once the activity starts):

  • Bi-weekly calls with the USAID activity manager to provide status updates and to mitigate any questions that come up during the course of the literature review.
  • By Day 10: An initial outline to be submitted for review, comment, and approval to USAID. This outline should include a comprehensive list of resources/literature and consultations that will be included in the review for which USAID will provide feedback and comments within seven business days (by Day 17).
  • By Day 40: A rough draft to be provided to USAID for review and comment. USAID will provide feedback and comments within fourteen business days (Day 54), to include guidance on how to proceed with the final draft.
  • By Day 60: The final draft to be submitted to USAID for review, comment, and (if possible) approval. USAID will review the final report within fourteen business days (by Day 74). If additional substantial revisions are required to the final draft, USAID and the researcher/research team will agree upon a feasible timeline to finalize the report.
  • Within 10 days of approval of the final report (anticipated Day 84), a draft of the presentation will be provided to USAID. USAID will review the presentation within seven business days (anticipated by Day 91).
  • Within 5 days of receipt of the USAID edits (anticipated Day 96), a final draft of the presentation will be provided to USAID for review, comment and approval.
  • On a mutually-agreed upon date, the researcher/research team will give the presentation to USAID and hold a brainstorming meeting.


The researcher/research team should have the following expertise and skills:

  • A master’s or equivalent graduate degree (MA/MS) in political science, international relations, or a related field, and at least 5 years of progressive research experience.
  • Knowledge of behavior change communications and/or similar intervention areas of African development;
  • Knowledge of international development in the health, crisis response, food security and/or other sectors;
  • Familiarity with USAID democracy, human rights and governance (DRG) approaches;
  • Previous experience working on USAID or other donor-funded research or program analysis;
  • Expertise in political and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Experience in qualitative research methods;
  • Experience working on a team to conduct research and deliver written and oral products.
  • Minimum of five years technical writing experience;
  • Strong planning and organizational skills required.
  • French language skills highly desired; and
  • Sub-Saharan Africa field experience required; Mano River Union (Guinea, Liberia, and/or Sierra Leone) preferred.

Interested candidates should submit the following:

  • Current CV
  • Recent technical paper/report
  • Proposed project outline and timeline for the tasks asked in the scope of work above, including your daily rate and overall costs.

This is an opportunity for employment or a contract, but we reserve the right to make no selection or award.

ZemiTek and CAMRIS International offer competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits.
ZemiTek and CAMRIS International are Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employers. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, protected veteran status, disability status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


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