Before the war, agriculture and livestock industries powered Syria’s economy and provided sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Exportation of agricultural products brought significant foreign investment and made the country’s produce famous worldwide. Even manufacturing and service industries were largely centred on agriculture. The ravages of the protracted 10 yearlong conflict have devastated the industry. Particularly in North East Syria, communities face a myriad of challenges, including a sharp decline in exports, higher transportation costs, fluctuating supply and demand for commodities, and a lack of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, fodder, water, and diesel fuel. These challenges have only multiplied year after year; as conflict endured and savings depleted, the vulnerabilities of families’ at-risk, including female-headed households and smallholders have been exacerbated.
In order to promote resilient and sustainable livelihoods for conflict-affected farmers in North East Syria, Concern Worldwide (Concern) undertook a 3-year Restoring Livelihoods through Agriculture Revitalization (RLAR) program with funding from USAID.
RLAR’s design featured a series of targeted interventions aimed to multiply benefits, build capacity and revitalize the industry to restore resilient agro-pastoral livelihoods. This program aims to improve food security and restore the agro-pastoral livelihoods of 6,900 farmers and 42,120 household members across six districts in the three governorates of Eastern Aleppo, Raqqa and Der Ezzour, North East Syria. Conflict-affected farmers, and an estimated 73,420 indirect beneficiaries, benefited from improved livelihoods and food security through support for vegetable farming, high efficiency irrigation systems, extension services, replacement of livestock assets and complementary services, and improved market linkages and information provided through this program.
The main outcomes from the program are:
Outcome 1: Poor and vulnerable farming households’ agriculture and livestock assets and productivity are recovered and reinforced.
Outcome 2: Market access and functionality is improved.
Outcome 3: Current and future agro-pastoral livelihoods programming is improved.
2. Purpose of the consultancy
The overall purpose of this final performance evaluation is to evaluate the Restoring Livelihoods through Agriculture Revitalization (RLAR) program. This evaluation will have a particular emphasis on the relevance, coherence, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability and impact of the intervention carried out (see evaluation questions below) and the approach adopted. This will allow the consultant to extract lessons learnt and recommendations regarding both operational and programming aspects for future programming. It should capture achievements of the programme’s results and indicators, and the initial impact of the action in the light of theory of change and log-frame matrix, the major objectives of this evaluation are as follows.
1. Assess the programme against the DAC criteria of Relevance, Coherence, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Impact and Sustainability**, assigning a score to each (see scoring system below)**
2. Assess the success of participatory approaches in the RLAR program implementation. **
3. Identify lessons to be learned to inform the future programmes.**
Addressing these evaluation objectives will require the evaluator to consider the following guiding questions:
- Assess the relevance of the programme (objectives and activities ) to the needs of target communities and the social and cultural context
- Were the areas – geographic (districts and sub-districts) and programmatic – vulnerable and relevant in terms of selection and in line with local level priorities?
- What was the process of selection of target areas? How this ensured stakeholders’ participation?
b. Efficiency, and of the programme
- Have the outcome and outputs set in the log-frame matrix been delivered in a timely manner with required quality and quantity?
- What are the reasons for the achievement, non-achievement or over-achievement?
- Were activities cost-efficient? Have the activities and outputs been delivered with good value for money?
- What measures were taken during planning and implementation to ensure that resources are efficiently used and outputs timely delivered?
- What socio-economic and environmental changes have taken place among the beneficiary community as a result of the programme including both intended and unintended effects?
- To what extent are the benefits of the programme likely to continue after the completion of the programme?
- What are the major factors which influenced the achievement or non-achievement of sustainability of the programme?
f. Identify lessons to be learned to inform the future programme
- What are the key areas needing improvement in terms of design, approaches and implementation with particular emphasis on partnership and integration?
g. Participation and integration
- Did the projects planning and implementation mechanisms include the involvement of communities? To what extent did this participation make implementation smooth? Was the methodology used for the beneficiary selection relevant? Were communities involved in the process?
- Did the project establish mechanisms to enable beneficiaries and staff to provide feedback and if any report complaints and seek redress safely?
3. Essential and Desirable Experience/Qualifications
- Post-graduate degrees in Development Studies, and/or related social sciences field.
- Similar experience of conducting evaluations of integrated programme with particular focus on livelihoods support programmes in conflict affected contexts.
- Knowledge of the Syrian regional context and languages required
- Familiarity and technical knowledge of FSL and skills development in an integrated programme approach, as well as practical experience of Return on Investment, Value for Money analysis tools and techniques
- Familiarity with international quality and accountability standards applied in emergencies;
- Experience in the use of participatory methodologies and developing gender sensitive evaluation methodologies;
- Excellent Quantitative data analysis skills with proficiency in relevant statistical software
- Excellent written and spoken communications skills in English.
- Previous proven experience of conducting evaluations particularly for livelihood development programs preferably USAID funded programmes
- Inter-personal and analytical skills with an extraordinary level of diplomacy and tact while dealing with numerous stakeholders
The consultant(s) will produce following key outputs
- An inception meeting (either in person or online) with Concern Syria Country team
- An inception report
- Data collection from field for triangulation of quantitative and qualitative data.
- A meeting/presentation (or both) to share key (draft) findings with Concern Country management.
- A final report detailing the findings based on quantitative and qualitative data analysis, conclusions, recommendations, experiences, and lessons learnt (this should also include the feedback provided on the draft report and feedback during the presentation of findings meeting).
- The final report should be no longer than 35 pages including a maximum 2 page executive summary (excluding annexes).
- A score per DAC criteria on a scale of 0-5
- 5 – Outstanding Performance
- 4 – Very good overall performance with few shortcomings
- 3 – Good overall performance but with some minor shortcomings
- 2 – Generally acceptable performance but with some major shortcomings
- 1 – Barely acceptable performance with many major shortcomings
- 0 – Totally unacceptable performance or insufficient data to make an assessment
Payments will be made in instalment as per the set milestones agreed in the contract agreement. Apart from this, Digital copies of all reports/documents shall be submitted to Concern Worldwide at the end of the set deadline.
- Final payment is dependent on the approval of the submission of a high quality, well-written final report or completion of agreed outputs (as detailed in the TOR). This report will be shared with USAID in addition to other relevant internal and external stakeholders.
6. Lines of Communication
The consultant will report to Concern’s Country Director Syria/Iraq Program and will liaise closely with Program Director Partnership/CoP, Deputy Chief of Party (DCoP), M&E Specialist, Concern’s HQ Advisors, and Director and Coordinator of the local program implementing partner.
This evaluation will start as soon as possible from December 2021.
How to apply
Having critically considered the scope of work and requirements of this consultancy and your suitability for the same, you are invited to submit your Expression of Interest (Eol) to Syria.DeskOfficer@concern.net.
All expressions of interest should include:
· Cover letter: A short (maximum one page) letter.
· Detailed Curriculum Vitae (CV) of the consultant (maximum 4 pages), highlighting education, professional experience, registration with professional bodies.
· Technical proposal that summarizes your understanding of the ToR and the proposed methodology, including the foreseen work plan for the assignment;
· Financial Proposal: The financial proposal should provide cost estimates for services rendered including daily consultancy fees, any incidentals. The template for submission of the cost estimate is available at this link.
Note: Evaluation and final selection will be based on educational level, previous experience of the consultant, understanding of consultant of the ToR and submission of the expression of interest.
Expression of interest should be submitted in English and by email to Syria.DeskOfficer@concern.net, with the subject line EOI for RLAR Program Consultancy
Applications must be submitted by 5:00pm (GMT) on 17th December 2021