Focus Areas

IPOR undertakes programme reviews and evaluations for projects and programmes spanning a wide range of sectors. These reviews and evaluations are intended to assess whether, and to what extent, the programmes are consistent with the expected outcomes as set out by clients. In this regard, IPOR works closely with clients in order to design programme reviews and evaluations to enable them make informed decisions about the interventions being implemented. IPOR has worked with clients to review and evaluate programmes in the health, education, livelihoods, agriculture and governance sectors. Where necessary, IPOR utilizes appropriate theoretical lenses to enable clients fully understand the overall operative context of their programmes and projects. The theoretical perspectives help to address issues that would have otherwise been simply overlooked using the traditional approaches. More specifically, IPOR's areas of work can be distinguished into four thematic areas as follows:


1·         Governance, Development and Management

2·         Social Policy, Public Health and Livelihoods

3·         Data Management and Communications

4·         Short term and Professional training

Each thematic area is headed by a Team Leader, who works alongside a team of dedicated researchers. A Team Leader holds at the minimum, a Masters degree in the appropriate field. 

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Governance, Development and Management

The focus in this thematic area is on understanding the broader governance landscape, development processes, especially in the Malawi context both in historical and contemporary perspectives. The main goal of IPOR is to understand the barriers and obstacles to development in Malawi given that it still remains one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world despite concerted efforts to stimulate development over the past five decades.

IPOR’s work in this area has included political economy of anti-corruption, decentralization policy reforms, agricultural development with particular focus on commercialization, role of political parties and development, and various forms of institutional reviews spanning several sectors albeit with particular emphasis on local level development experiences within the decentralized governance context.

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Social Policy, Public Health and Livelihoods

IPOR addresses a wide range of social policy issues largely from an economic perspective. Areas of particular interest include health, education, housing and employment. The overall goal is to explore how prevailing economic conditions and policies, especially at a macro level, affect people’s livelihoods with particular focus on those living in rural areas. IPOR’s programme of work in this thematic area also touches on agricultural issues since the country’s economy remains predominantly agro-based.

IPOR’s primary interest is to understand how the changing economics of smallholder agriculture is propping up or undermining rural livelihoods. In particular, IPOR’s work addresses the extent to which agricultural policies are inclusive of women and youth in tune with the Sustainable Development Goal’s (SDGs) mantra of leaving no one behind. Public Health is another central theme at IPOR focusing on health public policies and their effectiveness towards addressing public health problems.

In addressing social policy issues in health, education, employment, housing and agriculture, IPOR is keen on promoting inclusive development that takes on board the marginalized and disadvantaged sections of society such as women and youth etc. IPOR essentially believes that an inclusive orientated growth agenda has the potential to transform rural livelihoods and dramatically reduce the proportion of Malawians living below the poverty line.

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Data Management and Communications

Inspired by extensive expertise in public opinion polls, IPOR is a leading data management institution in Malawi. It carries out baseline, midlines and end-line surveys as well as other relevant studies employing both qualitative and quantitative techniques. IPOR has expertise spanning the entire survey management cycle. This includes designing survey instruments guided by the overarching question that a client would like to address; fielding applications for ethical clearance to nationally recognizable Institutional Review Boards (IRBs); recruiting survey teams that can be as large as 200 within the shortest time possible through its database and fresh applications; training research assistants in general survey protocols and in relation to a specific survey assignment to collect high quality data; piloting survey instruments and making necessary adjustments informed by pilot experiences; rolling out survey implementation guided by agreed upon sampling procedures using maps from the National Statistics Office (NSO); supervision of the survey implementation exercise using a robust quality control system both in the field and at the office; and data cleaning and analysis including report writing.

IPOR has a competitive edge because it has adequate and up-to-date electronic data capture facilities with in-house capacity for programming using a wide range of software packages such as ODK, Survey To Go and Survey Solutions, Survey CTO and CS-Pro among others. We are equally adept in both qualitative and quantitative data analysis, with familiarity with a range of data analysis software that includes NIVO, Q-Data Miner, SPSS, MS Excel, Stata, R, among others. The main focus of IPOR’s communication portfolio is on dissemination of knowledge products generated from various thematic areas in user friendly formats to various audiences strategically segmented by need.

The main target audiences for IPOR are policy makers across the entire government machinery with the ultimate goal of influencing policy and practice; researchers and consultants; practitioners in the not-for-profit sector; international organizations and development partners; and undergraduate and postgraduate students. IPOR generates a wide range of knowledge products, namely: technical reports, working papers, policy briefs, fact sheets, blogs, journal articles, book chapters and books. These are disseminated through various social media platforms such as twitter, Facebook and Instagram; online and face-to-face conferences and workshops; and specially convened policy dialogue sessions to address contemporary and topical policy issues that require urgent attention and action. Most of these knowledge products are available on our website.

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Short-term Professional Training

IPOR provides short-term professional training to top-level, mid-level and entry level professionals in corporate governance and leadership; policy engagement, influence and advocacy; research methods and data analysis techniques; fieldwork research techniques that aim to equip individuals with skills to become effective research assistants and researcher’s strategic management and leadership and writing winning proposals. These trainings are very much practically oriented to help participants immediately improve their performance upon completion. IPOR trainers are highly qualified and experienced, employing a wide range of relevant pedagogical and andragogical techniques that guarantee the effectiveness of these trainings.

Clients are free to engage IPOR to deliver tailor made short-term trainings that address specific needs. In this regard, IPOR co-creates a training curriculum with the client through a rigorous needs assessment exercise to ensure that the training delivers the desired maximum strategic impact. As part of our short-term research training, IPOR hosts local and international university students on internship and Study-Abroad Programmes that provide practical skills and learning opportunities to students at various levels of study. 

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