Position Description

North Africa: Information Ecosystem Assessment Lead Researcher
Location Tunis, Tunisia
Apply Now

Objective

Internews is recruiting a Lead Researcher to conduct an Information Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) in a high risk North African country. The IEA is designed to ensure that future strategies to strengthen community knowledge are based on a robust understanding of the information and communication needs the local population, IDPs and returnees living and transiting in the chosen country. While mobile phone use is fairly ubiquitous by those on the move, information exchange always starts at local levels, where trusted brokers facilitate initial communication within communities through word of mouth (technology-enabled or otherwise). In order to best deliver impact, existing communication channels and gaps must be understood in order to ensure that any resulting information services remain relevant to a diverse demographic of target users.

The in-country assessment will map out existing “information ecosystems” affecting IDPs, using an adapted set of Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC)’s Common Communication Needs Assessment Tools. This methodology has been used in Iraq, Pakistan, and most recently Greece in an effort to bolster relevant information delivery. The assessment will focus the current most common and trusted channels through which IDPs and returnees get information pertaining to their destinations and journeys, the extent to which they are able to access reliable information, what they identify to be their primary information needs, as well as gauging their levels of trust associated with various forms of information exchange and delivery. This mapping of the information ecosystem will also reveal the dynamics of informal information networks and the trusted “information brokers” that drive them. Through this exercise, Internews  will identify viable entry points for the design of information services for people on the move in the country.

Outputs of the proposed process will include the production of an adapted “information ecosystem” assessment methodology, an Information Map detailing information flows, sources, content producers, sharers and target clients, detail of ICT infrastructure in target areas for interventions (mobile network operators and other service providers and information on levels of access and barriers to connectivity.

The researcher will not only identify the technical throughput of communication channels (and subsequently, the modes of communication IDPs use), but also who maintains or controls ICT networks and the content shared on those networks. Inputs will be sought from CSOs, municipalities, crisis committees, public and private media and others in order to understand how the production, verification and distribution of information is currently managed (or controlled). Key informant interviews will be conducted to help guide, identify and review any potential areas of communications vulnerability (for example, security of information transmission, etc.). This phase of work will not only inform solution designs for information services but will be shared and used independently by NGOs seeking to set up their own programme-specific feedback mechanisms (e.g. hotlines).

 

Approach

Understanding the different elements of an information ecosystem and how they interact and change as information is created, consumed and flows is key to designing appropriate and effective communications, assistance and solutions to meet different stakeholder needs at all levels of communities.

The Information Ecosystem Assessment will use mixed research methods – both quantitative and qualitative - to explore three themes:

  • How migrants and IDPs communities in target areas of the chosen country access, use and interact with information.

  • What sources of information are influential and trusted in target areas.

  • What are the information needs of migrant and IDPs communities in the country.

  • What informal information networks and trusted “information brokers” can be used to provide information to Migrants and IDPs in the country.

In addition, the research will identify potential media and communication partners and assess their capacity to reach and engage target communities and stakeholders to maximize the impact of information.

The assessment will take a design research approach to explore the information ecosystems of the country, looking at broad information-related questions within specific community contexts. Design research uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative data-gathering methodologies that focus on human need, and have a strong emphasis on observation and empathy. Research questions evolve during iterative phases of the process. This kind of research generates important insights into the socio-cultural dynamics, trends and nuances that shape the field of study. This in turn enables a greater degree of human-centered intelligence in the design of strategy and activities that can most effectively meet the information needs of target populations and that also promote community engagement with the information provided.

The research report will also embed a systematic methodology for re-assessing the Information Ecosystem over time. This approach will be essential in the country chosen where the political and social environment is fluid and can have an impact on how people access and consume information. 

More specifically, the research will examine:

Theme 1: Information access and use

  • Document experiences of the information landscape (the physical, institutional infrastructure that supports information production and flow) from an on-the-ground perspective. This includes interviews and capacity assessments at local media, if available).

  • Elicit details about how people access and use information especially migrants and IDPs

  • Identify how people process, use and apply the information they receive.

 

Theme 2: Understanding trust and influence

  • Identify key community influencers and disseminators of information: religious and civil leaders, social figures, tradespeople etc.

  • Uncover relative levels of trust and reliability by touch point/information type/event type

  • Explore the metrics communities used to determine whether a particular piece of news or information/ source is credible, trustworthy, or worth passing on to their networks

  • Examine the uses and perceptions of secular versus religious information sources

  • Identify and consider the impact of potential “change agents” such as ICT users and students, travelers, youth, etc.

  • Consider the changing and contextual nature of trust

 

Theme 3: Information needs and flows

  • Who are the trusted sources of information in the community, where do they source their information from, how do they share it and with whom?

  • Identify needs for health information across different segments of the population

  • Trace and document word of mouth networks

  • Identify places and means by which information is exchanged

  • How have social media and new technologies affected information flows and needs?

  • Identify social norms around gathering, sharing, and assessing different types of information

  • Consider the journeys and movements people make to find and exchange information.

 

Activities:

  • Desk Research (3 days)

The researcher will conduct desk research to collate a wide range of contexts and factors that constitute the “media landscape” that influences and shapes access, media content, inclusion and engagement of audiences. Desk research will include: existing data on reach, audience, language and content orientation of legacy media, internet penetration and mobile phone ownership and use - disaggregated by age and gender - media ownership and regulatory factors governing access to independent news and information, prevalence of SMS use, and prevalence/popularity of social media streams (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp). The desk research will be heavily informed by partners experience in the country.

 

  • Design of Questionnaire and Field Research Approach (one week – in parallel with the desk research)

 

The desk research will provide preliminary findings that will inform the following:

  • Selection of field research locations and approach.

  • Selection of target communities and information providers.

  • Criteria for the selection of Key Informant Interviews.

  • Criteria for selection of Focus Groups.

  • Design of questionnaires drawn from Internews extensive database of previous work.

  • Identification of areas for additional exploration.

 

Field Research (two weeks)

Enumerators Training (4 days)

The partner organization will recruit and train 10 enumerators to do the data collection on the ground in the chosen country. The training will go over the desk research and make sure the enumerators have all the practical skills they need to conduct the research in the field. The training will be conducted in Tunis.

 

Key Informant Interviews (KIIs)

Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with the following target groups:

 

Type of Key Informant Interview

Purpose

A.

Experts on the political, regulatory, and cultural context in the country, including experts on migrations issues

Background; context; factors

B.

Experts on information/media environment in the country

Background; context; factors

C.

Key influencers within each geographic area in the information flow process, e.g. elders, women’s groups religious leaders, civil society actors, local government officials, etc.

Background/context at local level; deep dive into the mechanics, motivations and processes of information flow (to be conducted outside the capital) including the role that gender plays  in the dynamic

D.

Key information consumers – representatives of different typologies of information users with special emphasis on women and caregivers

Understand how regular information consumers in target communities access, use, trust and engage with information, with a focus on women and families.

 

 

  • Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) (3 days)

At least three FGDs in target communities will help achieve deeper nuanced understandings on participants’ relationship with their information environment, with special focus on how migrants access, validate and share information, and how their information environments influence their understanding and perceptions of the policies and processes surrounding migration. Discussions will focus on participants’ attitudes, needs, preferences and challenges with regard to accessing, sharing, creating, and validating information, and how these have changed over time and in different circumstances. Focus groups will be conducted with men and women – either separately or together to understand the gender dimension.

 

  • Observation (on-going)

The team will document the information environment and its social context. Researchers will document field observation and collect materials (e.g. newspapers, photographs, sound, maps, and beyond).   

 

  • Final Workshop with enumerators (2 days)

Once the data collection on the ground is finished, the enumerators will gather again in Tunis to discus their findings with the lead researcher and to make sure that the findings are all aggregated and analyzed together taking in to consideration the local context.

 

Deliverables

The lead researcher will be responsible for producing a four-page preliminary findings document to share and discuss with key stakeholders at the end of the fieldwork period. The researcher will then synthesize the key findings from all aspects of the research, and presenting a Final Report with recommendations for the design of future interventions, including the selection of partners and strategies. A slide deck summarizing key points and featuring illustrative visuals will be delivered along with the report.

 

The final report will be approximately 20-25 pages long and should include:

  • Introduction.

  • Executive summary of key findings and recommendations.

  • Methodology overview.

  • Narrative analysis of key findings (including Information Map detailing information flows, sources, content producers, sharers and target clients and detail of ICT infrastructure).

 

Requirements:

  • Master’s Degree in relevant discipline (i.e., research, communication, journalism, public relations).

  • Minimum five years of relevant professional experience in research, communication strengthening, media, or/and humanitarian affairs.

  • Strong research background: qualitative, quantities, data analysis and data visualization, ethnographic studies and human centered design research methodologies.

  • International experience, particularly in North African countries.

  • Established ability to lead and facilitate strategic communication planning and programming with multi-stakeholder engagement, including senior government officials, international development partners, women’s organizations, NGOs, and CSOs, preferably in North African countries.

  • Excellent interpersonal communication, organizational, teamwork, facilitation and presentation skills.

  • Proven ability to produce high quality reports and to work under tight deadlines.

  • Strong written and spoken Arabic and English required.

  • Understanding of and demonstrated commitment to upholding Internews’ Core Values.

 

 

Benefits Information:

This position is being offered and hired by Internews Europe. Benefits will be consistent with Internews Europe's offerings and will be reviewed during the hiring process. Additional information can be found on our Internews Benefits page.

 

Salary Banding: $6,000 - $8,000 USD per month..