Research Assistant: Development Frontiers in Crime, Livelihoods and Urban Poverty in Nigeria

Job Title:      Research Associate

Location:      Centre for Spatial Information Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria - Nigeria

Duration:      Initially funded for 12 months commencing January 2018

Renumeration:      Highly competitive

Closing Date:      31st December 2017

Interview Date:      Second week in January 2018

The Project

The Development Frontiers in Crime, Livelihoods and Urban Poverty in Nigeria (FCLP) is a DfID-ESRC funded research led by the UCL Department of Geography in partnership with researchers at the Centre for Spatial Information Science of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. It is an ambitious programme of research that seeks to explore and understand the spatial patterns, seasonality and interlinkages of crime, livelihoods, and urban poverty in the city of Kaduna, Nigeria. It builds on one of the most comprehensive victimisation studies undertaken in a developing country and considers issues of economic vulnerability, security, and sustainability through its exploration of crime and victimisation in urban areas. The project aims to develop a platform for investigating trends in victimisations in Kaduna, Nigeria through a mixed methods study seeking to address the dearth of existing reliable data related to the effects of seasonal migration on patterns of work and crime in the city. The methodologies will include an ethnographic approach to the qualitative understanding of urban livelihood strategies in Kaduna and quantitative data analysis and mapping of broader trends. It will also bring together key development concerns related to sustainable livelihoods, social vulnerability, and poverty to build an alternative account of 'insecurity and crime' in African cities where the lines between legality and illegality, formality and informality, licit and illicit work, are often blurred in practice. The idea is to challenge prevailing Euro-centric narratives of crime and victimisation through an innovative mixed-methods study. Combining statistical modelling, geovisualisation and ethnographic insights, the research aims to develop location appropriate approaches to investigate perceptions and seasonal trends of crime and victimisations in a West African city.

The Role:

FCLP will recruit two full time researchers for the full year of the project. Researcher 1 will be based in the UCL Department of Geography and Researcher 2 (advertised here) in the Centre for Spatial Information Science ABU Zaria, Nigeria. They will have distinct but complementary roles and remain in frequent contact throughout the project. Both researchers will be directly involved in the fieldwork and provide essential support for the logistics required to make it a success. They will also jointly contribute to the projects outreach activities via the project blog, the organization of workshops and the creation of written reports. The advertised researcher will work closely with Professor Adamu Ahmed and Dr. Faisal Umar at the Centre for Spatial Information Science, and also with Dr. Tatiana Thieme and Dr. James Cheshire, both based at UCL Department of Geography. As part of the data collection process, the Research Associate will complete multisited fieldwork in 3 districts of Kaduna, aiding in the collection and analysis of qualitative data, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions in a number of Kaduna neighbourhoods.

The RA will also collaborate with the other research associate to facilitate workshops in Nigeria and create training and data resources associated with the project. They will work closely with the PI and Co-Is to oversee the analysis of the multi-sited qualitative data collected, and engage in a range of dissemination activities across Nigeria, Africa and the UK. The Research Associate will be encouraged to author and co-author various written outputs throughout the project with the PI and Co-Is and other local research partners as appropriate, and to contribute actively to the projectís joint knowledge exchange and outreach activities. As appropriate, there may be opportunities to engage in teaching activities at UCL and ABU-CSIS on topics related to the project as part of the PI and Co-Iísí commitment to support the Research Associatesí career development throughout the life of the project.

Person Specification

The Research Associate will hold at least a Masters in a relevant Social Science or cognate field (e.g. anthrolology, human geography, development studies, African studies, urban management), have a strong knowledge of critical theories and literature pertaining to at least two of the following: development studies, African urban studies, informal economies, criminology. The appointee will have a solid background in ethnographic research methods, including perception studies and household interviews in low-income neighbourhoods or informal settlements, and experience/interest in informal economies in African cities. They will also have the ability to complete primary research in Hausa. The specification for the qualifications, experience, skills, knowledge and abilities that are required to effectively carry out the responsibilities of the post (as outlined in the job description) and forms the basis for selecting a candidate are outlined here:


  • Hold at least a Masters in a relevant social science or cognate field such as; African Studies, anthropology, human geography, urban management, development studies, criminology, migration studies, humanitarian studies, sociology, and any other relevant discipline.
  • Have a strong knowledge of critical theories and literature pertaining to informal economies, African urbanization, livelihood strategies.
  • Have an academic record commensurate with the stage of career in:
  • a qualitative and human-centred specialty within a relevant social science, or
  • a qualitative and human-centred specialty within contemporary African Studies with experience in social science applications.
  • A demonstrated ability to conduct qualitative, ethnographic research in urban African, especially Nigeria
  • The ability to complete primary research in Hausa.
  • Knowledge of the contemporary Africa and Nigeria in particular.
  • Knowledge of key debates within development studies, policy and practice.
  • Experience of working with a range of academic and non-academic stakeholders.
  • Experience in producing high quality written communications including reports and blogs, and possibly contributing to an academic article.
  • Significant experience of Microsoft Office applications, including Word, Excel, Email, Outlook and the internet.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills to a wide range of audiences.
  • Excellent organisational and time management skills with ability to work to a high standard with great attention to detail.
  • Excellent interpersonal and presentation skills and the ability and confidence to represent the project in a professional manner to a range of internal and external stakeholders.
  • Ability to confidently navigate different urban neighbourhood settings and adapt to local environment and situation, and put interview respondents at ease.
  • Ability to self-motivate and take initiative while working alone, while also working well in a team.
  • A willing and flexible approach to new areas of work.

  • Desirables

  • Knowledge of and interest in interdisciplinary research approaches.
  • Basic experience in working with GIS software (e.g. QGIS, ArcGIS, GeoDA).
  • Experience of using relevant bibliographical software such as EndNote or similar.
  • Experience of using digital media in communications, including the production of web content and deploying social media within an organisational context.
  • Interested and qualified candidates should forward their CV's and application letters with the subject "FCLP Research Associate" to:

    Dr. Faisal Umar


    Application closing on 31st December 2017