Senior Expert Research Consultant, Home-based At UN High Commissioner for Refugees

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is offering a full time Senior Expert Research Consultant position who willOrganization focus on Human Mobility and Climate Change in the IGAD region. This position is within the IDPs, Mixed Movement, Climate Induced Displacement unit at the UNHCR Regional Bureau for East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes Region, Nairobi, Kenya.

The position will require constant travel within the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) region and in particular, Somalia and Ethiopia. IGAD is one of the eight Regional Economic Communities of the African Union, comprising the Member States (MS) of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda. It is home to more than 230 million people whose livelihoods and income are predominantly linked to agriculture. The IGAD region is one of the most diverse regions in the world, including areas of development and others prone to violent conflict, political instability, humanitarian crises, and disasters linked to the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

The different forms of human mobility (displacement, migration, and planned relocation) to, from and within the IGAD region reflect the range of complex and overlapping drivers and structural factors that often compel people to leave their country or homes of origin. The main, and overlapping, drivers of human mobility include disasters linked to natural hazards, environmental degradation, the adverse effects of climate change, conflict, food insecurity, lack of jobs, loss or vulnerability of livelihoods and the search for better economic opportunities. Disasters linked to natural hazards, environmental degradation, and the adverse effects of climate change are amongst the most important and overlapping drivers of human mobility. Individual migration decisions and displacement are often based on a combination of the environmental and other economic, political, social and drivers, coupled with personal and household characteristics such as age, gender, diversity (AGD) and education. In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries in the IGAD region put in place different types of travel and entry restrictions. While many of these were intended or described as temporary it is yet to be seen how they may affect human mobility in the medium and longer term.

In light of the projected population growth, with continued environmental change and degradation, and an increase in the frequency and/or intensity of disasters associated with climate change, it is anticipated that the number of people migrating and of people at risk of displacement will increase. This Joint Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) Program therefore seeks to minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin, while also facilitating safe, orderly, and regular migration in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation in the IGAD Region.

  • Title: Senior Expert Research Consultant
  • Duty Station: Home-based (teleworking for the UNHCR Regional Bureau for East, Horn of Africa, and Great Lakes Region, Nairobi, Kenya).
  • Duration: Six (6) months
  • Contract Type: Individual Consultant
  • Closing date: 16 August 2021
  • Start date: 01 October 2021

Organizational context

UNHCR is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people. Every year, millions of men, women and children are forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. We are in over 125 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions. The consultant will be under the supervision of the UNHCR Regional Bureau for East Africa and the Great Lakes with technical support from the Office of the Special Advisor for Climate Action (OSACA) and the Climate Change and Disaster Displacement (CCDD) team in the Protection Policy and Legal Advice (PPLA) Section in the Division of International Protection (DIP). The expert research consultant will seek co-operation with other project partners.

Duties and responsibilities

Phase 1: Research methodology, literature review and logistical preparation for case study research

  • Develop comprehensive research methodology, including research questions and questionnaires for this study multiple field cases, in line with the overall study needs and objectives.
  • Participate in all Joint Program Steering Group meetings and regularly report on progress of the study research to all partners of the project.
  • Conduct a synthesis of existing information and evidence that will provide a conceptual framework for the case studies.
  • Possible desk review assessment of the implications that COVID-19 has had on movement patterns in 2020 and how that may have impacted migration in the IGAD region throughout 2020/21.
  • Deliverables: Workplan and inception report, desk review report for comments and editing.
  • Support with logistics and planning for phase 2, including contact with UNHCR and partners.

Phase 2: Case studies research

  • Carry out case study research according to the methodology developed in phase 1, including travel to relevant case study locations identified in Phase 1 (destinations subject to COVID-19 restrictions) in the IGAD region.
  • Conduct interviews and participatory assessments with and gather information otherwise, including from state officials, UNHCR and other international and national organizations, displaced people, migrants, experts and others, with a particular attention to AGD.
  • Draft synthesized analysis of migration due to climate change and disasters by November 2021. This should include an analysis, inter alia, of the below:
    • The nature of the climate change and/or disaster phenomena in the region (slow/sudden onset events, duration and impacts of hazard)
    • The link to human mobility (multi-causality, degree to which climate change is a root cause for migration and its connections with other causes of displacement)
    • Analysis of human mobility (internal, cross-border)
    • Role of humanitarian and other key actors in the region in terms of protection and assistance.
    • Availability and impact of humanitarian assistance in this context and impact of development assistance in such contexts, as it may (or not) have an impact in supporting resilience, adaptation and other strategies.
    • Protection challenges, including those unique to disaster dimensions (if any)
    • Good practices (and/or less effective practices) in responding to climate-induced migration in particular in terms of pathways.
    • Availability of and obstacles to solutions to address challenges in this context.
    • Key recommendations and/or action points for UNHCR regarding protection aspects in this context leading to determining the key information and training focuses.

Phase 3: Synthesis report of evidence base and recommendations

  • First draft by end of November 2021, draft synthesis report by end of 2021 and Final report by January 2022 of evidence-based recommendations, to address protection challenges related to the nexus between the adverse effects of climate change/disasters, and migration and related pathways for migrants, including in relation to the relevant objectives of the Global Compact for Migration:
    • Existing pathways and their access for migrants in the context of climate change and disasters.
    • Elements for UNHCR’s consideration regarding existing and potential operational engagement in relation to migrants affected by climate change and disasters.

Monitoring and Progress Controls

  • Timely and accurate reporting to UNHCR and other Joint Program partners and TWG on project progress.
  • Timely administration of project agreements including budget adjustments, amendments and official correspondence with donors and partners.

Essential minimum qualifications and professional experience required

  • Postgraduate university (Masters or PhD) degree in related field, such as Law, International Relations, Migration Studies, Geography, Environmental Studies or related social sciences.
  • Excellent command of English; command of additional languages relevant for case studies is an advantage (French and/or Somali).
  • Publications in the field of climate change, human mobility, migration, disaster displacement.
  • Excellent research, analytical and conceptual abilities, strong drafting and writing skills.
  • Experience conducting field research and key informant interviews.
  • Experience conducting desk reviews and background documents on related issues.
  • Experience working with key stakeholders on climate change, migration, human mobility and disaster displacement issues, including within the UN system, NGOs, and/or academia.


The successful candidate will be home-based teleworking for the UNHCR Regional Bureau for East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes Region, Nairobi, Kenya.


The consultancy is for six months from 01 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. It is a full-time role with working hours starting from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday (40 hours per week). The consultant will telework with travel to the field as per the workplan to be developed.

How to apply

To learn more and apply, please visit

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).

Closing date for the receipt of applications: 16 August 2021

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