Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Specialist

Lilongwe, Malawi
Full Time
Africa Frontline First (AFF) Initiative

This role was posted on July 6, 2023. Please note that we will review applications on a rolling basis and prioritize those received within the first two weeks of posting.

As of March 1, 2022, Last Mile Health is requiring staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 wherever legally allowable and adhere to COVID-19 vaccination requirements to perform core work activities in all locations. To learn more, review our policy.

The Role

At Last Mile Health (LMH), we dig evidence and data. Do you have experience leading innovative monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning  (MERL) for global community health programs? If so, you may be our next Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning(M Specialist for the Africa Frontline First Initiative. 

Africa Frontline First (AFF) Initiative aims to support ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to build high-functioning, resilient, country-led community health service delivery with an expanded and institutionalized health workforce of 200,000 CHWs by 2030. Anchored within the local context and health reform journey of each country, these shifts in community health service delivery will contribute to reduce excess morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, Malaria, TB, and HIV, prevent maternal and child mortality, advance health security, and accelerate economic recovery at the community level following the pandemic. In turn, these investments in community health are critical to progress on the health SDGs, including ending AIDS, TB, and Malaria, expanding universal health coverage (UHC), and as well as ensuring effective pandemic preparedness and response to COVID-19 and future pandemics. 

This position will primarily support the MERL activities of the Africa Frontline First initiative, a collaborative initiative between LMH, the Financing Alliance for Health, and the Community Health Impact Coalition under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The MERL Specialist will provide key support in designing of programs including the MERL aspects of programming, MERL plan development and execution for specific projects, and building AFF’s capacity for MERL activities.

Reporting to the Managing Director, Global MERL with a dotted line to the Co-Executive Director, AFF, this role will provide technical guidance to support and strengthen the capacity of MERL members to develop and implement MERL plans that measure progress, outcomes, and impacts of health systems strengthening, community health workforce upskilling, and community based primary care service delivery with the Liberia program. The MERL Specialist will collaborate with country and global teams to understand program goals and implementation then bring responsive methods to assess and learn from progress towards reaching those goals. To support data use and adaptive management, the Specialist will analyze and share findings with country team programs, executive leadership, and identified external stakeholders including but not limited to LMH funders and Ministries of Health.

This position is open to candidates located in Ghana, Liberia, and Malawi. Candidates must be located in and have work authorization in one of the countries listed above. This role will be hired on a 12-month fixed term contract with potential for renewal. 


What You'll Do

Support AFF and its implementing partners to establish, rollout and implement strategic monitoring, evaluation, and results measurement systems for AFF overall and specific AFF projects community health programs  in the following ways:

  • Lead in development and continuous updates to the AFF overarching Theory of Change (ToC) and MERL plan, in line with its strategy and evolution of CHW programs under AFF support.
  • Lead development of MERL plans for specific AFF projects during project design, and revisions during programming, ensuring the design and implementation of robust results framework are in line with AFF ToC and MERL plan
  • Support or lead as needed, execution of the AFF MERL plans including planning, monitoring, and reporting. Provide support for planning, monitoring and reporting of the AFF supported programs in the region.
  • Provide targeted start-up support to ensure all new AFF supported programs have appropriate MERL plans, tools, and skills to gather and use results data for effective results-based programming and wider organizational learning.
  • Lead in the development and adaptation of standard tools and guidance aimed at generating strategic results for AFF MERL plan. 
  • Provide technical review and input into AFF supported projects  annual MERL work plans, and ensure they are valid, realistic and align to overall AFF MERL frameworks/strategy.
  • Lead the analysis and aggregation of multi-country data as per AFFs ToC and MERL plan.
  • Lead in the development of periodic high level progress reports drawing from results in the AFFs ToC and MERL plan.

Provide technical advice to AFF implementing partners, and quality review of MERL work product in the following ways:

  • Provide input in development, review, and quality assurance of MERL plans of implementing partners, for AFF projects where we operate through partners to ensure they are practical, realistic and provide value for money (VFM). This is inclusive of monitoring plans, costed operational plans, and evaluation plans (methodologies, data collection, reporting). 
  • Provide technical advice to AFF implementing partners (in group format or directly) where requested and relevant for achieving AFF aims.
  • Develop and roll out a MERL onboarding package for community health programs, standardized for all AFF supported countries in the region.
  • Where beneficial coordinate shared learning of country MERL focal points and implementing partners in AFF supported countries to highlight innovations and Monitoring and Evaluation bottlenecks in CHW programs.
  • Coordinate with LMH Global MERL unit to share lessons, standard tools and practices, data and results, particularly in countries of overlap.

Support other  MERL priorities as needed. We anticipate this position to provide support to other ongoing and ad hoc priorities, including:

  • Develop an AFF research and learning agenda, identifying key existing evidence and gaps and learning questions that can be addressed through AFF activities and support operationalization of research or learning, such as study design, development of TORs, consultant selection.
  • Provide MERL perspective into new funding proposals and new program design conversations as it relates to AFF
  • Work with communications teams to translate data and evidence into communications materials
  • Review and input into internal and external program reports
  • Coordinate with LMH Global MERL unit to share lessons, learnings and alignment on research and learning initiatives.

What You'll Bring

  • Bachelor's degree Public Health, Epidemiology, Health Policy, Health Economics, Demography, or other related fields. Master’s degree in these areas is preferred.
  • Progressive years of professional experience in public health and/or international development, with relevant years leading MERL activities in community health programs. 
  • Demonstrated experience designing MEL plans and developing MEL systems for data collection and results measurement
  • Demonstrated experience in quantitative and qualitative MERL methods, managing research studies and/or program evaluations, and applying equity principles to MERL activities.
  • Demonstrated experience in strengthening capacity for MERL activities, and working to promote a learning/data use culture at previous places of work
  • Experience developing MERL reports, dashboards, publications, whitepapers, toolkits, and factsheets.
  • Demonstrated experience in use of software for qualitative and quantitative data analysis (Excel, SPSS, Stata, Dedoose, etc.); mobile data collection tools (ODK, Kobo, etc.,), data management (databases, SQL, etc.), visualization and dashboards, and DHIS2
  • Demonstrated experience in GIS analysis and mapping. 
  • Demonstrated experience with stakeholder engagement and ability to collaborate with and provide technical support to internal teams and external partners, government counterparts.
  • Facilitation of inclusive and culturally appropriate conversations with a range of stakeholders across geographies and cultural contexts.
  • Experience with capacity strengthening for monitoring evaluation research and learning
  • Ability to clearly communicate complex technical information to a wide variety of audiences and help persuade stakeholders to adapt policies/programs strategically as aligned with the evidence and appropriate for local context.
  • Experience contributing to grant/proposal writing and reporting to donors.  

You'll Impress Us If

  • Experience collaborating with and coaching program/implementing teams to support data use.
  • Experience in global health or international development, specifically the continent of Africa is preferred.
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Compensation Information

At Last Mile Health, we strive to reward our employees equitably and transparently. This means that we pay our employees based on a clear and consistent methodology and without regard to their identity or personal relationships. We have made this model fully transparent so that everyone has access to all information related to compensation. We hope this helps you better understand Last Mile Health’s values and commitments to our employees. We look forward to answering any questions you may have during the hiring process.

Before applying to this role, please take a moment to learn more about our approach to compensation and how compensation works in each of the countries where we operate. Please find the link to our compensation model and benefits overview below:



Compensation for this position:

The Band for this position: Band- 3

For Ghana, the range is $22,260 - $51,940 USD depending upon experience doing an equivalent role.

For Liberia, the range is $20,862- $48, 679 USD depending upon experience doing an equivalent role.

For Malawi, the range is $23,582-- $49, 783 USD depending upon experience doing an equivalent role.

About Last Mile Health

Last Mile Health partners with governments to design, scale, strengthen, and sustain high-quality community health systems, which empower teams of community and frontline health workers to bring life-saving primary healthcare to the world’s most remote communities. LMH is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. For more information, visit

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at LMH. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.


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