Global Development Institute Blog

Job Description: Environmental Sustainability, Economic Development and Everyday Livelihoods of Island Communities in the Maldives

We are seeking two Research Assistants for a project on Environmental Sustainability, Economic  Development and the Everyday Livelihoods of Island Communities in the Maldives.

Post Title:

2 x Research Assistants


Equivalent to GBP £770/month (approx. 15,000 MVR/month) plus travel and accommodation

Time frame:               

11 months Fixed Term Contract (combination of part-time and full-time over 17 months) starting on 1 November 2017 and finishing on 31 March 2019

Employment is allocated over the 17 month period as follows:

1 Nov 2017 – 31 Dec 2017  – part-time at 50%

1 Jan 2018 – 30 Sep 2018  –  full-time (100%)

1 Oct 2018 – 31 Mar 2019 – part-time at 25%

Reports to:

Dr Mizna Mohamed, ENDEVOR Maldives Research Network

Research project:

This research project explores the relationship between tourism development and environmental sustainability on small-island communities. It examines the intersection between poverty and inequality, the expansion of the tourist sector and associated environmental concerns. The key research questions are as follows:

  1. What are the main synergies and tensions between tourism development, environmental sustainability and islanders’ livelihood strategies?
  2. How do the global tourist industry and changes to the natural environment effect livelihoods in island communities?
  3. What forms of conflict arise, and how are these negotiated and resolved?

The research is funded by an 18-month ESRC-DFID Development Frontiers research grant, commencing 1 Oct 2017.

Research team:

The research is led by Uma Kothari, Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies, at the University of Manchester. The Co-Investigators are Dr Alex Arnall, Associate Professor in Environment and Development at the University of Reading, and Dr Mizna Mohamed of the Maldives Research Network. In addition, the Maldives Photographers’ Association (MPA) will undertake the visual methods and curate a photographic exhibition based on the research. The research is also supported by UNDP-Maldives.

Research methods:

The empirical research will be carried out on two inhabited islands, one inner island and one outer island. It will use a combination of ethnographic and interview-based approaches, including:

  • Collection of individual narratives and biographies to provide information on past and current connections between islanders and their immediate physical environments, and how these have changed over time.
  • Creative and visual methodologies to enable sharing of knowledge, experiences and practices, including ‘photovoice’ participatory action research to capture everyday activities and engagements with the environment.
  • Participant observation to record and observe people’s everyday lives and connections with their environment.
  • Interviews with all stakeholders to reveal perspectives on, uses of, and conflicts over, the physical environment, and to gather contextual data on economic development, environmental sustainability and livelihood strategies. Approximately 50 interviews will be undertaken with members of island communities on each case study island.

The main responsibilities will include:

  • Conduct the empirical research using a range of research methods.
  • Translate and transcribe interviews.
  • Document the economic, social and environmental context for each island.
  • Attend and support project workshops and team meetings.
  • Produce regular research updates and reports.
  • Contribute to data management, analysis and dissemination.

The RAs will receive training in methodological approaches and each RA will be provided with a laptop and dictaphone for use during the period of fieldwork.

Person specification:

  • A postgraduate degree in a relevant social science discipline, including but not limited to geography, anthropology, environmental and/or development studies. Preference will be given to candidates with a doctoral-level qualification.
  • Experience in conducting qualitative research with an interest in ethnographic research methods.
  • An ability to adopt a research approach that includes respect for consent and confidentiality of interviewees.
  • Knowledge of the Maldives and island communities.
  • Fluent in both Dhivehi and English.
  • Excellent communication skills, with a good command of written English.
  • Computer/IT skills, including word processing.
  • Ability to work independently, demonstrate initiative and be flexible.
  • Demonstrate reliability, motivation and commitment to the project.
  • Ability to reside on the case study islands for extended periods of time.

The candidates chosen will be the ones who match most closely the overall requirements of the post, so candidates are advised to address the above criteria in their applications.

Further Information:

Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Uma Kothari:

The closing date for applications is 9 October 2017 and short-listed candidates will be invited for interview in Malé, Maldives on Saturday 28th or Sunday 29th October 2017. Successful candidates will be required to start on 1 November and to accompany the research team for a short visit to the case study islands in the Maldives during the week of 5th November 2017.

Please send a CV with full contact details and a one-page covering letter indicating why you are interested in this post and detailing your relevant skills and experience to Professor Uma Kothari (