Research & Learning Expert (consultancy)

Organization
Posted
Closing date

1.1 Background

In May 2021, unrestricted funding has been made available to Save the Children International for implementing “Cash + for Nutrition” programming in countries currently at risk of famine, with Yemen, Afghanistan and South Sudan being selected for this initiative.

The plan is to deliver cash (or voucher) plus Social and Behavioural Change Communication (SBCC) to prevent the worsening of the acute malnutrition situation.

Save the Children has developed a number of approaches on practices and interventions that evidence shows are particularly effective. The “Resourcing Families for Better Nutrition” (“RF4BN”) approach focuses on preventing malnutrition (stunting, in particular). RF4BN recommends a combination of cash transfers plus SBCC and other nutrition interventions. The approach targets children in their first 1,000 days of life from conception until 2 years of age, and includes their mothers and caregivers, in development and humanitarian contexts. While evidence shows that RF4BN can be effective for stunting, further evidence is needed to determine whether this approach can contribute to the prevention of acute malnutrition, and if significant outcomes can be achieved in programmes with a short duration (i.e. intervention delivered over the course of six months only). Short project timeframes, which are lower than the 1,000 days recommended by the RF4BN approach are more typical in humanitarian contexts.

To address the evidence gaps, we will set in place state-of-the art Monitoring and Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning systems. We will gather information through a variety of methods, to enable immediate adaptations to the ongoing programmes, and documenting observations and lessons for the benefit of future programmes.

By bringing multiple countries together and harmonising the MEAL process, we will facilitate peer-to-peer learning and identify similarities across contexts, ultimately allowing us to develop models and frameworks of action.

The process will be internally focused, creating an environment conducive to sharing and learning from experiences among global, regional, and country Technical Advisors.

1.2 Purpose of the consultancy services**

The purpose of these consultancy services is to lay the foundations for consistent and solid routine MEAL in future Cash Plus programmes for Nutrition, by finalising and testing a customisable MEAL tool-pack in three countries (Afghanistan, South Sudan, Yemen). The tool-pack is among the resources to be made available by Save the Children and will be provided to the consultant in draft form at the onset of the consultancy (see section 2.3).

The tool-pack will include:

  • Instruments for baseline-endline. These surveys are aimed at estimating the contribution of our intervention to nutrition outcomes and intermediate outcomes (e.g. food security, WaSH).

  • Instruments for post-distribution monitoring (PDM). These surveys are aimed at assessing the quality of our assistance and users’ experiences in receiving it, including any risk they faced. For this reason, the PDMs are generally carried out with recipient households after each distribution or provision of assistance. Data collection will take place in each country after every round of distribution and will be a responsibility of the project team/MEAL staff.

  • Instruments to facilitate cross-country learning on this type of programmes, among staff that is directly involved in the design, implementation, and monitoring.

The overarching objective of the services is to learn and improve our actions combining cash & voucher assistance with nutrition interventions. We seek to introduce improvements in programme design and operations in course of action, within the selected programmes, and also to document learning and draw conclusions form experience in a way to influence future programming.

1.3 Key activities

The successful bidder will be responsible for the following activities, for the baseline-endline surveys and the PDM surveys in the three countries:

  • Familiarise with the projects in the three countries by reviewing project documentation and speaking with the country teams.
  • Deliver the listed mentoring sessions to the MEAL team. The expert will take full responsibility for the first round of PDM analysis and reporting in the three countries; the following rounds of PDMs will be completed by the MEAL team in country, based on the guidance provided by the expert during the training. The ultimate goal is for the MEAL team in country to become able to complete all tasks related to PDM in an autonomous way.
  • Support Yemen and South Sudan country offices in customising the terms of reference for the baseline-endline and the PDM surveys, along the lines of the sample terms of reference produced for Afghanistan.
  • Support the MEAL leads in the three offices in successfully planning for each survey, ensuring that the required resources are available when needed, i.e. translation, tablets, enumerators, vehicles, STATA license.
  • Clean the datasets of two baseline surveys, three endline surveys, and three PDM surveys (i.e. the first round of PDM in each country) gathered in the three country offices, exception made for the baseline for Afghanistan, which will be completed.
  • Develop an analysis plan for the endline survey, where the findings of the endline are compared to those gathered through the baseline, to seek evidence of change and assess if and how the intervention may have contributed.
  • Analyse the datasets of two baseline surveys, three endline surveys, and three PDM surveys (i.e. the first round of PDM in each country) using STATA. This will imply customizing the existing ‘Do file’ produced for Afghanistan and creating a ‘Do file’ for South Sudan and Yemen.
  • Produce tabulates and charts for the baseline-endline and the first PDM.
  • Calculate the cost-to-transfer ratio of the programmes in the three country offices.
  • Organize, schedule, and facilitate a cross-country learning discussion every eight weeks, for a total of two cross-country learning discussions and one final discussion forum.
  • At the end of the initiative, conduct and document key informant interviews with Save the Children’s staff on integrated programming and related management processes, challenges, and lessons learned.
  • Draft the final cross-country learning report.

In order to deliver these services effectively the consultant will be provided with the following resources:

  • For the baseline and endline surveys

  • Sample terms of reference

  • Sample Word and XLSForm questionnaires

  • Sample slide deck to train enumerators on baseline-endline data collection

  • Sample analysis plan for the baseline

  • Sample ‘Do File’ for data analysis in STATA

  • Sample baseline report template with annotations

  • For the Post-Distribution Monitoring surveys

  • Sample terms of reference

  • Sample Word and XLSForm questionnaires

  • Sample slide deck to train enumerators on PDM data collection

  • Sample analysis plan for PDM

  • Sample PDM report with annotations

  • For the cross-country learning

  • List of possible topics and guiding questions for the cross-country discussions

  • Guiding questions for key informant interviews with Save the Children’s staff on integrated programming and related management processes, challenges, and lessons learned.

  • A Save the Children UK email address and editing access to relevant Sharepoint folders and files.

1.4 Deliverables:

The deliverables of the services will be:

  • Item 1: Baseline (item 1a) and endline for South Sudan (item 1b)

  • Customised Terms of Reference, based on the pre-established customisable document

  • Customised XLSForm based on Word questionnaire adapted by the Country Office

  • Customised slide deck to train enumerators on baseline-endline data collection

  • Enumerators trained remotely

  • Clean dataset of the baseline household survey

  • Analysis plan for the endline survey

  • Analysis of the data as per analysis plan

  • Tabulates and charts as per analysis plan

  • Customised ‘Do file’

  • First basic draft of baseline report for the Country Office and Global TA to expand and finalise

  • First basic draft of end-line report for the Country Office and Global TA to expand and finalise

· Item 2: Baseline (item 2a) and endline for Yemen (item 2b)

  • Same as for South Sudan

· Item 3: Endline for Afghanistan

  • Same as for South Sudan. The Afghanistan baseline is analysed by another expert.

· Item 4: Post distribution Monitoring (PDM) for South Sudan

  1. Customised Terms of Reference, based on the pre-established customisable document

  2. Customised XLSForm based on Word questionnaire adapted by the Country Office

  3. Customised slide deck to train enumerators on PDM data collection

  4. Enumerators trained remotely on PDM data collection

  5. Clean dataset of the first PDM survey

  6. Analysis of the data as per analysis plan

  7. Tabulates and charts as per analysis plan

  8. Customised ‘Do file’

  9. Annotated PDM report template

  10. First PDM report

· Item 5: Post distribution Monitoring (PDM) for Yemen

  • Same as for South Sudan

· Item 6: Two cross-country learning discussions, one every eight weeks. These calls are to be attended by all country task teams (i.e. country and global cash/FSL and Nutrition Technical Advisors, MEAL representative from each project), and the global Research/MEAL expert(s). These calls are aimed at sharing experiences and observations from country-level implementation. The post holder will document the calls and incorporate key experiences and peer-to-peer reflections and advice into the final learning report.

· Item 7: At the end of the project, key informant interviews with Save the Children staff involved in the initiative, implemented and documented.

· Item 8: Final discussion forum: this will wrap-up the learning process. It will be designed and delivered by the LSE students under the oversight of the project coordinators. Attendance will be mandatory for members of the country task teams, and open to Save the Children staff worldwide, particularly targeting global (through relevant HTWG), country and regional-level Nutrition, Cash, FSL, and MEAL advisors as well as Project Managers. The webinar will be recorded and shared internally. To facilitate and encourage sharing, the webinar will not be open to external attendants.

· Item 9: Final cross-country learning report. The report compiles findings, learning, observations, and recommendations documented throughout the project with the different MEAL activities.**

1.5 Ways of Working

The services are not location bound and can be delivered from anywhere in the world.

The countries to be supported are Save the Children International’s Afghanistan Country Office, Yemen Country Office and South Sudan Country Office. The consultant will work closely with the MEAL teams in these three offices

The consultant will report to the Team Lead of the Emergency Cash & Economic Programming team at SCUK.

1.6 Required Consultant Experience

The services require the consultant to have:

  • Significant experience of MEAL-specific work within an emergency or emergency and development context.
  • Proficiency in designing data collection instruments in XLSForm
  • Proficiency in data analysis through STATA.
  • Experience in MEAL capacity building, including training, supervising, coaching, and mentoring.
  • Communicating and influencing skills across relevant teams and international offices.
  • Strong reporting writing skills.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Great attention to details.
  • Ability and willingness to be flexible and accommodating in difficult and sometimes insecure contexts.
  • Strong remote-working abilities.
  • Proficiency in speaking and writing English

How to apply

Ask for detailed Request for Proposal from Francesca Battistin, f.battistin@savethechildren.org.uk