Norwegian Refugee Council
Sahel Livelihoods and Food Security Programming Evaluation
Terms of Reference
DATES: FEBRUARY 2023 – MAY 2023
EVALUATION LEAD: CWA MONITORING & EVALUATIONS ADVISOR (MANAGER), BASED IN SENEGAL
LOCATIONS: MALI, NIGER AND BURKINA FASO
1.1 Background on the context
Increasing armed conflict, worsening security, chronic poverty, and shocks from extreme weather events such as drought and floods play a critical role in shaping food insecurity in the Sahel countries. Over 80 percent of the population depends almost exclusively on their agricultural production for their economy and consumption.
Extreme weather events affect people’s livelihoods and food security in several ways, including reduced crop productivity associated with heat and drought stress and increased pest damage. They also lead to fodder shortfalls, livestock deaths, and disruption of transhumance patterns, increasing conflict over natural resources and accelerating urbanization. This has had disastrous effects on food supply, causing food shortages and price spikes.
The devastating impact of widespread conflict on production, markets, food security and nutrition in the Sahel is well documented. Populations must cope with the destruction and theft of their capital assets, reduced access to land and labour and other critical inputs, limiting their capacity to feed themselves and cope with the impacts of worsening climatic conditions.
Ensuring access to food for people affected by displacement and crisis and strengthening their livelihoods is considered a critical step towards self-reliance. From this perspective, livelihoods and food security (LFS) interventions have increasingly become a priority across NRC’s country programmes in the Sahel. NRC has been providing LFS assistance to people affected by displacement through general food distribution (in-kind), cash assistance, support to livestock reconstitution (distribution of small ruminants, vaccination), agricultural assistance (distribution of seeds, farming tools and other inputs) and diversifying livelihoods by facilitating access to income generating activities.
The depth and breadth of the humanitarian crisis in the Sahel has drastically widened over the past three years due to displacements, protracted conflict and climate change. The Ukraine crisis has compounded the situation, causing inflation and even higher food prices, while the residual effects of COVID19 are still being felt. The hunger crisis is projected to worsen in 2023. Dire projections of mass food insecurity are materialising in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. To date, programmes and funding for humanitarian response have failed to address these multiple and increasing challenges faced by vulnerable populations in the Sahel.
NRC has the ambition to further develop and expand its LFS programming, by providing increasingly sufficient, appropriate and holistic food and livelihood assistance to people affected by displacement in the Sahel. It is within this framework that an evaluation has been commissioned, to assess the outcomes of previous interventions, identify gaps and provide insights on what best practice could be scaled up for greater impact across the Sahel and potentially beyond.
1.2 NRC’s presence and action
In addition to Food Security and Livelihoods, NRC implements activities in five other sectors or core competencies: Protection from Violence, WASH, Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA), Education, and Shelter. Within its Central and West Africa region, NRC has country offices in Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria and the countries of the Central Sahel namely Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. In Mali, LFS interventions concern the regions of Mopti, Tombouctou, Gao and Ménaka. In Burkina Faso, LFS interventions are concentrated in the Center North (Kaya, Boussouma, Tougouri, Kongoussi, Korsimoro, Boala, Mané) and the Sahel region (Bani, Sebba, Dori). In Niger, LFS projects were active in Tillabery (Ayorou, Tillabéry, Ouallam , Abala, Tera, Tera, Gothey, Sakoira) and Maradi (Guidan Roumji). Each Area Office is managed by an Area Manager who is responsible for overseeing programme implementation and support functions in that location.
In each of these countries, the Head of Programmes (HoP) and technical Core Competency Specialists work nationally, and are responsible for building capacity, ensuring programme quality, new programme development and ensuring coordination with other humanitarian actors and local partner organisations in country. They also work closely together to coordinate approaches across NRC’s six technical sectors.
1.3 NRC’s intervention specific to the evaluation
NRC has implemented livelihood and food security projects in Mali since 2015 and in Burkina Faso and Niger since 2020. Interventions include emergency food assistance (cash and/or in-kind), agricultural assistance, management of natural resources (water and soil conservation, soil defense and restoration), and support for income-generating activities through business capacity building and access to start-up capital.
The Mali LFS program employs the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) approach, empowering communities to increase access and control over resources, and to use their collective power to overcome social and financial barriers. The Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) is another well-developed approach (particularly in Mali) in which emergency food assistance plays a cornerstone role. In Burkina Faso, NRC recently diversified its LFS activities by integrating renewable energy, and youth employment through vocational training. Across all three countries LFS interventions are generally integrated into multi-sectoral programs encompassing Protection from Violence, Education, WaSH, Shelter, and ICLA.
2. Purpose of the evaluation and intended use
2.1 Overarching purpose
- To strengthen NRC’s food security programming across the Sahel region to ensure that NRC invests its resources appropriately and stays relevant. The evaluation will thus highlight key regional trends and existing capacities, and identify areas where NRC should strengthen its support to food security programmes across Sahel.
- To identify if, how and where NRC provided the best response modality available for targeted populations.
- To identify the food security core competency’s specific role in strengthening resilience in target communities (vis-a-vis and in synergy with other CC), bearing in mind NRC’s conflict displacement focus.
- To identify the food security core competency’s contribution to livelihoods programming and where NRC should focus its efforts in this area, bearing in mind NRC’s mandate and programme policy.
- To identify best practices that are already being implemented as well as issues which require attention in order to improve NRC’s LFS program design in the focus countries, and across the region more generally. The evaluation will focus on understanding the appropriateness, coverage, quality and results (effectiveness) of the programmes reviewed, and their links with other core competencies, in order to identify what is working well and what can be improved, keeping in mind NRC’s focus on improved integrated programming.
2.2 How will the evaluation be used
The evaluation report will be used to identify best practices, gaps and lessons learned in NRC’s LFS programming in the Sahel, and to share relevant findings with the wider NRC community, across the CWA region and beyond. Identified shortcomings will be prioritized for remedial action and support by the regional office. The evaluation and its recommendations will be used to strengthen project design throughout the implementation of the current regional and country strategies (2022-2025).
2.3 Who will it be used by?
The evaluation will be used by the CWA Regional Programme Team, the global Field Operations Programme Development & Support Section (especially the LFS Adviser) and Country level CC Specialists, Heads of Programme and CDs, in order to strengthen future strategy development and programme design. At country and regional levels, findings will be shared with other humanitarian actors and the government, as appropriate.
3. Scope and lines of inquiry
This evaluation will cover all LFS programming implemented between 2020 and 2022.
The geographic coverage must include all three Sahel countries in which NRC is active: Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger (although the use of secondary data can allow for a reduced geographic scope in terms of primary data collection for this evaluation).
Within the selected country/ies for primary data collection, it is expected all areas of NRC activities will be covered. These areas are :
- In Mali : Mopti, Gao, Tombouctou and Ménaka
- In Burkina Faso : Kaya and Dori
- In Niger : Tillabery and Maradi
The evaluators will also interview the NRC CWARO team to get a regional view of dynamics between the three Sahel countries and inform future regional programmatic decisions and strategies for LFS in the Sahel.
A list of projects implementing LFS components in the targets countries between 2020 and 2022 will be provided to the evaluators. In the designated timespan, there were 10 projects implementing LFS components in Burkina Faso, 7 in Niger and 13 in Mali. Evaluators will select a sample of these projects to examine in depth, ensuring a range of topics, locations, and project types is covered. They will also be expected to interview key personnel in each NRC office, as well as local stakeholders (authorities, community representatives, beneficiaries) and other humanitarian actors.
3.2 Lines of inquiry
The evaluation will overall endeavour to answer the following strategic focus questions, which each have several associated sub-questions. These are general questions, to be applied to the Livelihoods and Food Security programmes specifically.
1) Is NRC reaching the right people?
a) How did NRC make decisions about where to deliver its LFS programmes, including localities and who to target?
b) To what extent has NRC considered the needs of different groups in the programme design (gender, age, disability, belonging to a minority group) and how to ensure these particular groups have an equal opportunity to reach the programme outcomes?
c) Is there any evidence that adaptations have been made to various phases of the project to increase access for such groups?
d) From the perspective of NRC staff, what are the main challenges/ pressures which could prevent NRC from reaching the ‘right people’? What would be the trade-offs of making changes to the programme which would enable NRC to better reach the right people – trade-offs in terms of timing, quality and cost per output, for example?
2) Is NRC doing the right things?
a) Is the response considered appropriate according to the needs and priorities of the affected population?
b) Why was the programme appropriate or not appropriate? What key factors made the response appropriate/ inappropriate? Is there evidence for this?
c) How can NRC adapt its programme to ensure a more appropriate response, especially be more innovative in overcoming some of the access and implementation challenges
d) To what extent are protection, gender and environmental concerns considered and incorporated into the food security programmes?
e) Did any particular modality or combination of modalities cause a significant change in the lives of projects participants (in terms of economic conditions, livelihoods and food security)? How significant was this change and how did it happen?
f) Are there any underlying factors beyond the control of the projects that have influenced their performance and the achievement of outcomes?
3) Is NRC working effectively to ensure programme quality?
a) How adapted is the HR structure of LFS teams in NRC to ensure programme quality?
4) NRC 2023 evaluation strategic focus question: To what extent are we enabling the participation of the people and communities we work with in support of effective, safe, and quality programming?
a) Evidence of positive or negative affect of participation
- To what extent did the participation improve programme design, and implementation?
- Is there evidence that the participation of the people and communities NRC works with led to increased safety or risks of the target group?
- Were there any negative consequences of participation practices?
b) Learning and improving:
- Does NRC need to do better/ differently to improve participation? What specific actions should it take given the context and barriers faced by the programme?
The expected methodology deployed to answer this evaluation’s lines of inquiry involves:
- Review of relevant trends in food and nutrition security, livelihoods coping strategies and economics in the region over the evaluation period, as they relate to NRC’s populations of concern.
- Review of internal project documentation including strategy documents, reports and monitoring data.
- Key informant interviews at head office, regional office and country office levels (RPD/CDs/HoPs/FS Specialists/ other CC and Thematic Advisers).
- Key informant interviews with key stakeholders in each focus country (government, UN, INGO, NGO, Clusters, …).
- Focus group discussions / interviews with project participants and, where possible, non-participants.
5. Evaluation follow up and learning
The findings will be used to inform implementation and strategic decisions both at country and regional level, and in particular will inform the country and regional LFS strategy for 2024 and onwards.
A management response will be developed within one month of the evaluation report being finalised. This will be followed up and tracked by the Regional LFS Advisor and the Regional Programmes Director, and a review of the response’s implementation will be scheduled 6 months after the evaluation report is finalised.
A dissemination plan will be developed to ensure that important learning is shared with internal and external stakeholders.
6. Management of the evaluation
The person responsible for ensuring that this evaluation takes place is the Regional Programmes Director for the CWA region. An evaluation manager has been appointed to internally coordinate the process and will be the evaluation team’s main focal point.
An evaluation Steering Committee (SC) has been established by NRC, with the following members:
- CWA REGIONAL PROGRAMMES DIRECTOR (CHAIR)
- CWA MONITORING & EVALUATIONS ADVISOR (MANAGER)
- CWA LIVELIHOODS AND FOOD SECURITY ADVISOR (MEMBER)
- CWA SAHEL REGIONAL PROGRAMMES ADVISOR (MEMBER)
- MALI LIVELIHOODS AND FOOD SECURITY SPECIALIST (MEMBER)
The Steering Committee will oversee administration and overall coordination, including monitoring progress. The main functions of the Steering committee will be:
- Establish the Terms of Reference of the evaluation;
- Select evaluator(s);
- Review and comment on the inception report and approve the proposed evaluation strategy;
- Review and comment on the draft evaluation report;
- Establish a dissemination and utilization strategy.
The consultant will deliver, based on an agreed upon work plan:
Deliverable 1: Draft Evaluation Inception Report – The draft inception report (using NRC’s standard template) should set out any changes proposed to the methodology or any other issues of importance in the further conduct of the evaluation. The inception report will:
I. Include a desk review;
II. Describe the conceptual framework that will be used to undertake the evaluation;
III. Present an evaluation matrix, setting out in some detail the approach for data collection, the evaluation methodology, i.e. how evaluation questions will be answered by way of data collection methods, data sources, sampling and selection criteria;
IV. Include data collection instruments;
V. Provide a detailed work plan for the evaluation, which indicates the phases in the evaluation and key deliverables;
VI. Set out a plan for data collection, interviews or discussions;
VII. Present a data analysis plan;
VIII. Set out the list of key stakeholders to be interviewed.
Deliverable 2: Final Evaluation Inception Report – The inception report will be finalised upon consultation with the Steering Committee Members, and validated by them.
Deliverable 3: Draft Evaluation Report (25 pages max – in French) – including an Executive Summary of key findings (both in French and English), conclusions and recommendations, as well as all primary data collected in the course of this evaluation.
The draft evaluation report will be produced after the conduct of fieldwork and feedback meetings with the steering committee.
Deliverable 4: A final evaluation report (maximum 25 pages, in French) structured as follows:
I. Cover page
II. A list of acronyms and abbreviations
III. A table of contents
IV. An executive summary (in both English and French)
V. Introduction and background
VI. Scope and objectives of the evaluation
XI. Lessons learned and recommendations
Appendices of the report, including:
a. Terms of reference
b. Evaluation matrix
c. List of documents consulted
d. Evaluation tools
e. List of persons and organisations/institutions consulted
A management response plan will be prepared by the Steering Committee after the finalisation of the evaluation. It will specify key actions to be undertaken, key partners to be involved in the execution of these actions and the implementation schedule.
8. Timeframe and Budget
This evaluation is expected to start on 27 February 2023 and will require an estimated 40 working days to complete. The following phases should be followed.
Phase 1 (Mid-March 2023):
- Scoping meeting with the steering committee
- Review of all relevant documents
- Preparation and submission of the inception report including an evaluation matrix, work plan, data collection tools, analysis plan and methodology.
Phase 2 (Mid-April 2023):
- Data collection in agreed locations
- Pre-test of tools and training of enumerators
- Primary data collection and data quality control
- Data analysis
- Validation workshop to close fieldwork
Phase 3 (End April 2023):
- Preparation of the draft final report
- Submission of the first draft of the report to NRC
Phase 4 (Mid-May 2023):
- Comments and suggestions of NRC on the interim report
- Integration of the comments and submission of the final report
This evaluation’s budget is limited at 50,000$. NRC strongly encourages bidders to price their offers competitively as this aspect will be taken into consideration when selecting the winning bid.
9. Evaluation consultant team
NRC seeks expressions of interest from both individuals and firms for this assignment.
Consultants must have:
1. Advanced university degree in Humanitarian/Development Studies, Social Sciences, statistics or other fields related to the provision of humanitarian assistance in Livelihoods and Food Security;
2.Experience in planning, implementation, monitoring and especially in evaluation of LFS programs in humanitarian settings;
3. Good knowledge of data collection methods using tablets and CAPI systems and ability to analyse, synthesize, present and to write clear reports;
4. Demonstrated expertise in managing mixed-methods data collection and analysis in humanitarian contexts;
5. Expert French communication, writing and synthesis skills;
6. Minimum 5 years of experience with quantitative and qualitative research and experience;
7. Technical understanding of LFS programming;
8. Adequate knowledge of local cultures and languages and social, economic and political background of the Sahel region is an asset. The composition of the team must be balanced to enable an exhaustive coverage of the various aspects of the evaluation set out in this terms of reference, including cross-cutting issues.
10. Application process and requirements
Application Deadline: 14 February, 2023 at midnight (Dakar time)
Tentative interview dates: 21 February 2023
Bids (technical and financial proposals) of up to 6 pages maximum (excluding annexes) should include the following:
- Proposal including, outline of evaluation framework and methods, including comments on the TOR, proposed time frame and work plan;
- Detailed budget of the offer (consultant(s) will cover the costs for local travel, food, accommodation, etc.), the budget should be inclusive of all taxes and VAT;
- Composition of the evaluation team;
- CV of the member(s) of the evaluation team including references;
- At least two extracts (3-5 pages) from reports written for similar missions;
A cover letter with the following information: a description of how their skills, qualifications and experience are relevant to the requirements of the assignment, a list of previous evaluations that are relevant to the context and subject of this assignment, and statement confirming their availability to conduct the assignment in the expected timeframe.
Please find the comprehensive ToR here: CWARO Sahel LFS External Evaluation 2023 – Terms of Reference – V4.docx
Submit completed bids in French to [email protected] no later than 14 February, 2023 at midnight (Dakar time)
How to apply