MERL Specialist

Updated: about 2 months ago

Join AIR as a Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Specialist with our International Development Division (IDD) and make a difference, improving the quality of life for individuals and communities in low and middle income countries. AIR’s IDD work spans the globe with projects in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Central and Latin America, and the Middle East. 


The MERL Specialist will work on a USDA-funded Food for Education (FFE) project in Lesotho. This is a five-year project aiming to achieve two main objectives: 1) improved literacy of school-aged children; and 2) increased nutrition, health and dietary practices of beneficiaries in Lesotho. This is a project position.


The MERL Specialist is field based and will closely support AIR headquarters in designing, developing, and rolling-out of the literacy interventions in collaboration with implementing partners and other in-country stakeholders.  This is a full-time local position based in Maseru, Lesotho. Lesotho citizens are encouraged to apply.


Our IDD team is committed and engaged because we drive positive change in the following areas:

  • Agriculture, food, and nutrition
  • Early childhood development and education
  • Refugees and migration
  • Social protection
  • Water, sanitation, and infrastructure
  • Women's empowerment
  • Workforce development

Use your experience, knowledge, and education to help us deliver on our mission: to contribute to a better, more equitable world.


About AIR:


Established in 1946, with headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, AIR is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance to solve some of the most urgent challenges in the U.S. and around the world. We advance evidence in the areas of education, health, the workforce, human services, and international development to create a better, more equitable world.



AIR’s commitment to diversity goes beyond legal compliance to its full integration in our strategy, operations, and work environment. At AIR, we define diversity broadly, considering everyone’s unique life and community experiences. We believe that embracing diverse perspectives, abilities/disabilities, racial/ethnic and cultural backgrounds, styles, ages, genders, gender identities and expressions, education backgrounds, and life stories drives innovation and employee engagement. Learn more about AIR's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy and hear from our staff by clicking here .

The responsibilities for the position include:


The MERL Specialist’s primary responsibilities will be to provide oversight for the program’s planning, evaluation, knowledge management and monitoring. The MERL Specialist is responsible for the operation of the project M&E system at central level, reviews and consolidates data from all the sites where program is being implemented, elaborates reports to the donor, and develops and harmonize systems and data tools. The full list of responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Collaborate with AIR personnel, the prime organization, and the external evaluator to support the design of the activity’s research activities; lead efforts to identify key research questions and support the design of studies that provide evidence on best practices and lessons learned, provide evidence to make programmatic decisions and/or adaptations, contribute to the larger body of evidence related to improvement in children’s learning outcomes.
  • Oversee the compilation and dissemination of information from monitoring and evaluation(M&E) data and stakeholder feedback on successful and promising approaches, lessons learned and other program results to local, national and regional-level intergovernmental bodies, donors, partners, and other stakeholders. Promote forums which facilitate collaboration, learning and action because of this information among these actors.
  • Define and implement the key project performance indicators as well as monitoring them throughout the duration of the project
  • Lead quantitative and qualitative data collection, transcription, analysis, and report writing
  • Coordinate M&E activities with local and international partners, including annual surveys, case studies, stakeholder workshop to refine approaches
  • Lead ongoing adaptation of Activity design and interventions using M&E data and stakeholder feedback
  • Oversee operational and formative research design, implementation, and data use
  • Participate in the development of project monitoring tools, data collection procedures, and train project staff on use of tools for data collection
  • Participate in tools for data quality assessments (DQA) and conducting periodic Data Quality Assessment, field monitoring activities and provide feedback to the program team.
  • Carry out other duties assigned by the Supervisors

Education, Knowledge, and Experience:

  • At minimum Master’s Degree in international development, quantitative research, statistics or other area clearly relevant to data analysis and impact analysis
  • At least 5 years’ experience in international monitoring, evaluation, knowledge management, and research efforts
  • Proven track record of work monitoring and evaluation, data quality assessments, data validation, data audits, data collection, with particular focus on supervising and monitoring data collection activities
  • Demonstrated ability to create and maintain effective working relations with host country government personnel, stakeholders, NGO partners, and international donor agencies
  • Demonstrated expertise in qualitative data collection, in-depth knowledge about qualitative sampling, and experienced in using interviews, focus groups, and interactive tools to generate qualitative information and analysis
  • Experience with USDA is preferred but not reqiured


  • Fluency in English
  • Excellent organizational and administrative skills and ability to multitask under tight time constraints/deadlines
  • Ability and willingness to travel to remote areas
  • Proficiency in Sesotho or other local languages is preferred but not required




All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, national origin, protected veteran status, or disability.


AIR adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks.



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