Principal - Research

Job Title: Principal - Research
Job Type: Full-Time
Organisation: Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI)
Office Location: Kenyatta Market, Nairobi, Kenya
Job Location: Kenya and International
Application Closing Date: 31 January 2022
Proposed Start Date: 01 March 2022

Kounkuey Design Initiative is looking for an exceptional individual to fill the role of  Principal - Research in our Kenya office. This is a leadership role in a highly innovative, dynamic, and impactful organisation. The Principal - Research will join our very committed and innovative research team in the Nairobi office and will manage a portfolio of multiple existing research projects in public space, resilience and climate change adaptation with the mandate to develop new research-focused work. The ideal candidate will be passionate about justice in the built environment, flexible in approach, and excited to take on the challenge of developing this position and the growth of the research capacity of the overall organisation in Kenya and internationally. 

The research projects that we are currently undertaking in Kenya include partnerships with academic and research institutions such as the African Research and Impact Network (ARIN), Technical University of Kenya, University of Nairobi, MIT, King's College London, University of Birmingham, Karachi Urban Lab, Stockholm Resilience Centre, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, African Centre for Technology Studies, Global Disability Innovation Hub, Adaptation Research Alliance, and the University of Nottingham. Our research work supports grounded action in the communities we work in and is delivered and designed by resident and community partners as well as producing learning and policy lessons for local and national authorities, and international actors around risk management, adaptation planning, and inclusive and integrated infrastructure design.

Our strategic aim in the next three years is to further leverage our built environment practice and research into policy impact at scale both in the US and Kenya and in the broader discourse on justice in the built environment, slum upgrading, community engaged design, and socio-ecological resilience. The  Principal - Research will be central to this process. 

Roles and Responsibilities:
A summary of the general roles and responsibilities for the position is given below: 

Specific responsibilities would include:

Qualifications & Desired Profile:

How to Apply
Interested candidates should submit a) cover letter, b) CV (including full list of publications), and c) publication or portfolio to the Senior Management Team at by the end of Monday 31st January 2022.

KDI will not ask candidates to pay any money or pay for tests at any stage of the application or interview process. Official KDI emails will always be sent from email addresses. Please report any suspicious communication to (do not send applications to this email address).

About KDI:
Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) is an award winning non-profit design and community development organization that partners with communities living in extreme poverty to physically transform degraded environments, grow economic resilience, and build social cohesion. KDI evolved from an action-research project to explore participatory and equitable urban development at a profound level through a productive interaction between disciplines, linking theory to practice in the most challenging of environments.

Our work in Kenya started in 2006 as a partnership with residents to explore the potential of public space to transform underserved neighbourhoods into thriving communities. The resulting Kibera Public Space Project has grown into a network of active, and attractive community hubs that meet residents’ most pressing needs of clean water, decent sanitation, income generating opportunities, and education. Today the Kenya team is a 24 strong, multi-disciplinary team of professionals. KDI has since used the participatory model developed in Kibera to work with communities in Haiti, Ghana, Los Angeles and the Eastern Coachella Valley in California. Globally KDI has over 50 professionals and activists working on our shared mission.

In KDI’s experience residents often understand the complexities of the issues they face far better than any outsider and in many cases have already identified viable solutions to those problems. Our approach to research is to involve residents and community partners in both the design and delivery of research and to emphasize participation and action based on the findings. Whether we are designing action-research to develop a small Productive Public Space project, or a city-wide advocacy campaign, residents, collective inquiry and experimentation grounded in experience are at the center of the process.

KDI is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All employment decisions at KDI are based on business needs, job requirements and merit, without regard to age, race, creed, color, religion, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), national, social or ethnic origin, disability status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital, civil union or partnership status, citizenship status or other characteristics protected by national, state or local law.