Consultant – Documenting Learning on Conflict Sensitivity within Food Security Programming – Remote


Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.

IDEAL is an activity funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) that works to support the United States Government’s goal of improving food and nutrition security among the world’s most vulnerable households and communities. IDEAL addresses knowledge and capacity gaps expressed by the food and nutrition security implementing community to support them in the design and implementation of effective emergency and non-emergency food security activities.

IDEAL’s three purposes (updated in conjunction with the IDEAL Theory of Change developed in Year 2 of programming and in midst of the COVID-19 pandemic) are:

  • Purpose 1: Improved capacity for integrated activity design and implementation of essential elements of quality programming
  • Purpose 2: Consistent application of adaptive management practices in food security programs
  • Purpose 3: Improved coordination and collaboration (between IPs, BHA, and other stakeholders) around common goals

IDEAL aims to address knowledge and capacity gaps expressed by the food and nutrition implementing community across seven content focus areas (CFAs) namely:

  1. Strengthening the quality and impact of emergency programming
  2. Data Collection and analysis for improved program design and impact
  3. Adaptive management and application of learning
  4. Integrated activity design and implementation
  5. Sustainability and planning for exit
  6. Social and Behavior Change
  7. Equity, empowerment, social cohesion and social accountability

Under CFA #7, IDEAL has established a work-stream that combines a focus on social cohesion and social accountability (SCSA). Priorities under this focus area include supporting the BHA implementing community to improve quality of programming around safeguarding the fabric of household and community life even during crises. This Scope of Work (SoW) outlines a consultancy assignment aimed at capturing and disseminating learning on application of conflict-sensitive approaches within BHA funded activities in protracted crisis contexts.

Purpose / Project Description:

Conflict sensitivity –the ability of an implementing organization to understand the conflict dynamics in the context in which it operates, understand the potential and actual interactions between the intervention and these conflict dynamics, and act upon this analysis to mitigate unintended negative impacts and maximize positive impacts of the intervention– is essential to Do No Harm practice, as well as to laying the groundwork for social cohesion in conflict settings. Consultations with BHA implementing partners during Year 2 of IDEAL revealed that despite increased awareness of the importance of adopting conflict sensitivity approaches to food security programs in increasingly fragile and crisis-prone contexts, little information is available on what approaches other implementers are using, as well as what works and what doesn’t. As the frequency and intensity of conflicts in various regions where BHA works has continued to increase, opportunity exists to assess and consolidate examples about what implementing partners are learning.

Discussions with BHA implementing partners during the past year have emphasized increasing fragility and conflict as a major contributor to acute food insecurity and a critical underlying concern for achieving program outcomes. This is especially relevant for BHA implementers working in active conflict zones in the Sahel (North East Nigeria, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso), Horn of Africa (Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia), Central Africa (Cameroon, Central Africa Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo) and the Middle East (Syria, Iraq and Yemen). Conflict is a key driver of food insecurity, but can also be an impediment to programming operations. Without understanding the context and how food security programs interact with it, implementers risk undermining progress toward their objectives and, at worst, exacerbating conflict dynamics.

The planned activity seeks to build off an existing piece of guidance from USAID on Conflict Sensitivity in Food Security Programming by assessing prevailing practices, successes, challenges, lessons learned and recommendations from a sample of contexts where BHA works.

Consultant Objectives:

The purpose of the activity is to assess prevailing practices and compile lessons learned and promising practices in applying conflict sensitivity among BHA implementing partners working in active conflict environments. The activity entails the following specific objectives:

  1. Identify opportunities to capture learning around application of conflict sensitivity approaches within BHA funded activities.
  2. Review and document prevailing practices, successes and challenges in application of conflict sensitivity approaches within BHA funded activities.
  3. Analyze and synthesize lessons learned and promising practices in application of conflict sensitivity approaches within BHA funded activities, including comparative lessons for different types of activities.
  4. Package and disseminate learning related to application of conflict sensitivity approaches within BHA funded activities.

Consultant Activities:

The consultant will work closely with IDEAL to carry out the following tasks:

  • Conduct an evidence and program mapping exercise to identify potential sources of information and develop criteria for selection of highlighted content.
  • Conduct a literature review based on academic literature, evaluations, program reports, white papers, and other grey literature on conflict sensitive approaches within food security programming as a basis for informing assessment of prevailing practices.
  • Implement remote-based data collection, including key informant interviews with a sample of BHA funded activities across a spectrum of contexts.
  • Analyze and distill lessons from literature review and data collection into key findings.
  • Conduct a virtual sense-making feedback session with IDEAL SCSA TAP members and other practitioners to validate findings.
  • Package and disseminate consultancy findings.

Consultant Deliverables:

The Consultant will:

  • Conduct evidence and program mapping, which includes a written outline of existing resources and brief description
  • Conduct and write a 5-10 page literature review
  • Conduct and analyze key informant interviews (at least 25) and share a slide deck with key takeaways from KIIs, raw notes
  • Prepare for and conduct feedback session with IDEAL team members on key findings, including workshop outputs and draft findings
  • Prepare assignment report with key findings in a final report
  • Work with IDEAL in packaging and dissemination of learning outputs for targeted audiences
  • Presentation materials targeting various audiences to be determined in the course of the consultancy

Timeframe / Schedule:

Anticipated timing of this consultancy is June 1, 2021 – August 31, 2021 for 25-30 days of work.

The Consultant will report to: Senior Technical Food Security Advisor

The Consultant will work closely with:

  • IDEAL Social Cohesion Technical Advisory Panel
  • Director, Peace and Conflict
  • Senior Peace & Conflict Advisor
  • IDEAL Program Officer

Required Experience & Skills:

  • 5-7+ years of experience in international development, with expertise in food security and peacebuilding programming
  • S./M.Sc. or equivalent or above in a relevant technical field is preferred
  • Familiarity with USAID food security programming and guidelines
  • Experience implementing or advising on conflict management, peacebuilding, or conflict sensitivity/Do No Harm major donors such as USAID, DFID, the EC and relevant foundations and corporations.
  • Significant experience in writing and producing policy- and donor-relevant research
  • Exceptionally strong verbal and written communications skills and organizational skills are required.
  • Experience working with teams of diverse backgrounds
  • Fluency in English is required

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

How to apply

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