Cowater International Inc.

Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Lead

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Last update: Apr 19, 2024 Last update: Apr 19, 2024


Deadline: May 6, 2024 Deadline for applications has passed
Location: Zambia
Job type:Contract, 12 months +
English English
Work experience:Min 10 years
Date posted: Apr 18, 2024


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Job Title: Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Lead (MERL)  
Sector: International Trade 
Duration/Level of Effort (short/long-term): Long-Term  
Position Location: In-Person (to be based in Lusaka, Zambia. With travel, as required, to the DRC and Mozambique) 

The “Facilitating Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable Trade” (FIRST) project aims to improve economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa that is inclusive, environmentally sustainable, and empowers women, youth, people with disabilities and/or other vulnerable and marginalized groups by implementing a series of interrelated interventions which support the Ministries of Trade and Commerce in DRC, Mozambique and Zambia, trade-related institutions and MSMEs (particularly women Small Scale Cross Border Traders (SSCBTs) and MSMEs led by women and marginalized groups). FIRST will work with the Ministries of Trade and Commerce and trade-related institutions to ensure an inclusive approach to the development and implementation of trade and investment policies. In parallel, FIRST will improve access to the socioeconomic benefits of environmentally sustainable and inclusive trade and investment by improving the enabling environments at border crossings and strengthening the ability of MSMEs and SSCBTs to adapt and leverage new national/regional trade and investment opportunities. Finally, by improving the knowledge and skills of research institutions to gather, analyze and utilize gender-sensitive and environmentally sustainable trade-related data and evidence, the Project will provide a source of data and evidence to assist policymakers with the development of inclusive trade and investment agreements, while also providing the information needed by women-led MSMEs and SSCBTs to conduct cross-border trade along the Beira Corridor.  


The FIRST project requires the services of a Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Lead based in Lusaka, Zambia to provide monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management services to the GAC FIRST program.     

Working under the direction of the FIRST Program Manager and in close coordination with the Cowater HQ Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, the expected services of the Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Lead will include, but not limited to:     

  1. Provide advice and support to the FIRST team on the implementation and support of the program wide MERL Plan and Operations to achieve the following results:  
  2. Participate in the roll out of M&E systems and tools, forms and templates for capturing data, as prescribed in the MERL Implementation Plan, ensuring all M&E systems and tools are fully understood and applied consistently across the program team and partners; 
  3. Under the supervision of the Cowater HQ Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, assess and develop the MERL capacity of FIRST technical teams and stakeholders, as required, including providing on-going support to all FIRST program stakeholders on all technical aspects related to M&E; 
  4. Work closely with the GEDSI team to collaboratively ensure MERL system is GEDSI-responsive; 
  5. Support the capacity building of FIRST program staff and relevant stakeholders in the use and management of FIRST’s MERL monitoring and evaluation system and the associated monitoring tools;  
  6. Help develop and regularly update MERL annual workplans that include all planned MERL activities; and 
  7. Provide regular updates on progress and challenges to the Cowater HQ Monitoring and Evaluation Supervisor. 
  8. Facilitate data collection and report preparation by aiming on achieving the following results:  
  9. Support FIRST team to plan and execute their monitoring and evaluation plans by developing and overseeing the implement of appropriate quantitative and qualitative data collection, analysis tools and methodologies (survey questionnaires, key informant interviews, focus groups etc.) – supervising where necessary to ensure the best data collection protocols and practices are applied; 
  10. Preform regular data clearing to ensure high quality and integrity, data analysis and visual representation of M&E data from different activities and across the entirety of the program;  
  11. Manage data entry into FIRST’s M&E database, ensuring all data is stored in an appropriate, traceable and user-friendly manner for utilisation in progress reports, evaluation reports etc.;  
  12. Assist with the consolidation of lesson learned across the program, including making recommendations for improvement based on all data gathered from FIRST activities; and 
  13. Produce consolidated data in reports and presentations in easily understood manner to demonstrate progress made against agreed upon indicators and targets.   
  14. Support the Cowater HQ Communications Specialist and Knowledge Management team to collect material for case studies and/or success stories for program communication purposes: 
  15. Lead FIRST’s MERL efforts to organise and host learning sessions (internal & external) for better knowledge sharing and program implementation;  
  16. Ensuring the learning material, evaluation and research documentation (eg. Case studies, briefing reports, success stories etc.) and other relevant data/information are properly stored and accessible for all team members; 
  17. Prudently identify and report all risks and manage risks related to the monitoring, evaluation and knowledge management of FIRST; and   
  18. Any other relevant task as assigned by the FIRST Program Manager and/or Cowater HQ Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist.  



  • A Graduate Degree (Master’s Degree required or equivalent would be an asset) in Social Sciences, evaluation, management, public policy or other relevant disciplines (research and methodological experience encouraged).  

Minimum Experience 

  • Minimum of 10 years of experience, as senior specialist or in a senior program management position in implementing monitoring and evaluation in Southern Africa (experience in DRC, Zambia and Mozambique would be considered an asset). Knowledge of results-based management approaches would be an asset;  
  • Demonstrated understanding of GEDSI-transformative MERL methods and approaches and/or MERL experience relating to GEDSI specific issues or programs; and 
  • Substantial experience in designing, monitoring and evaluation of donor funded projects and ensuring monitoring and evaluation approaches are consistent throughout a program. 

Essential Skills 

  • Demonstrate ability (through previous similar assignments) to analyse, compile and synthesize information in a coherent and succinct format; 
  • Relevant technical skills in analysing and interpreting quantitative and qualitative data and presenting the findings in an easily understood format; 
  • A drive for results, including proven track record of high standards/accountability for work products, meeting deadlines, an ability to prioritize tasks within his/her work program and strategies for working collectively with others on the team to deliver products of the highest calibre; 
  • Strong interpersonal, cross-cultural and communication skills; 
  • Commitment to teamwork and ability to build constructive and effective relationships; 
  • Client oriented; and  
  • Demonstrated ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives and a professional commitment to promote a culture of gender equality and social inclusion.  

Language Proficiency 

  • Professional fluency in English (writing, reading and speaking); Fluency in French and/or Portuguese would be an asset.  


Interested individual consultants must include the following documents when submitting the applications by 6th May 2024. Please note, CVs will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, so we would encourage all interested applicants to apply as soon as possible. 

  1. CV indicating all past experience from similar projects, as well as the contact details (email and telephone number) of the Candidate and at least three (3) professional references. 
  2. Brief statement as to why the individual / consulting company/firm considers him/herself as the most suitable for the assignment. 

Qualified women, people with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, are strongly encouraged to apply. 
We thank all applicants, however only those shortlisted will be contacted. 

Founded in 1985, Cowater International is a leading global development consulting company. Headquartered in Ottawa and with corporate hubs in Auckland, Berlin, Brussels, Helsinki, London, Madrid, Manila, Nairobi, Singapore and Stockholm, Cowater International has successfully delivered a portfolio of over 2500 projects and assignments in more than 95 countries. We work with governments, private sector actors and communities implementing projects that support socio-economic development, institutional strengthening, environmental improvements and advance equal opportunities for all. We are a diverse and experienced team committed to building a better tomorrow for the people we serve. Our adaptive approach to management has led to our yearly award-winning work and recognition as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies since 2017.
We thank you for your interest in building a better tomorrow.