Action-Based Research Consultancy: Conflict-Induced Food Insecurity: Implications and Strategies to Achieve Protection Outcomes

Date Published: June 6, 2022 Author: InterAction
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Phase II Consultancy: Action-Based Research

June 2022

About InterAction:

InterAction is the largest U.S. based coalition of international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with nearly 190 members working around the world in low- and middle-income countries, fragile and post-conflict states, and emerging/growth economies. Member organizations are large and small, secular and faith-based, with a focus on people living in the world’s most poor and vulnerable places. The U.S. public, foundations, and governments support the work of our member NGOs that collectively invest and manage more than $15.4 billion a year. InterAction revenues come from dues, government grants, private foundation and corporate grants, and a growing fee-for-service program portfolio. Using its collective voice and convening power, InterAction seeks to shape important policy decisions and actions across a wide range of issues – including foreign assistance, humanitarian relief, development, economic equity, food security, and climate change – that advance human dignity, human potential, and self-determination.

Background:

When famine or acute hunger occurs today, it is usually the result of armed conflict. According to the UN World Food Program, almost 60% of the 690 million people facing acute hunger around the world live in areas affected by armed violence. Armed conflict is the single biggest challenge to achieving zero hunger. The lack of respect for civilian life and property by parties to the conflict—their failure to respect international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law—disrupts food systems and food markets, destroys livelihoods and employment, and threatens development gains. Conflict-induced hunger increases protection risks and displaces people. Those who remain in their homes tend to fare worse than those who are displaced and suffer in silence beyond the reach of aid agencies. The impact of conflict on hunger is substantial, but also foreseeable and preventable.

State and non-state parties to a conflict continue to cause hunger and starvation through violence, coercion, and deliberate deprivation. Hunger follows the destruction of personal property and livestock, livelihoods, food production, markets, and critical infrastructure, including health care. Acts such as restricting people’s movements, failing to act when food is blocked, or selectively providing food aid to people under the control of one party to the conflict also contribute to hunger and starvation. Famine and food insecurity intensify protection risks, as women and children become more vulnerable to a wide range of threats. Food insecurity contributes to risks including family separation; gender-based violence, including sexual abuse and exploitation; and attacks as they search for food, water, and access to services.

About the Project:

Since 2012, InterAction has been at the forefront of results-based approaches to protection. Through its signature work on Results-Based Protection, InterAction has carried out numerous roundtables, interagency dialogues, field-level workshops, and trainings with NGOs around the world to identify and distill the key elements of results-based protection in order to achieve protection outcomes. Under its current work, InterAction is providing country-level support to NGOs in select countries, including Nigeria, as well as supporting the piloting of an evaluation framework for the prevention of gender-based violence. In addition, InterAction leads an effort on promoting practical preventative measures that can be taken to avoid, minimize, and respond to civilian harm caused by parties to conflict. It guides the wider protection community in understanding, communicating, and collectively acting to influence parties to a conflict to develop and implement policies that protect civilians.

To understand and demonstrate what efforts are needed to bring about protection outcomes, InterAction is prioritizing the issue of conflict-induced food insecurity that has emerged as a key focus area among InterAction members and other actors InterAction engages with. By undertaking a multi-country action-based research study that includes helping organizations analyze the protection risks in each country context and develop context-specific theories of change, InterAction hopes to encourage the uptake of outcome-oriented ways of working to address protection issues manifesting due to conflict-induced food insecurity. Findings from the study will help humanitarians take immediate action at a country-level, while the analysis of common trends across all countries included in the research will help to influence and shape US policy and global policy and practice.

The urgency of the issue requires that any research undertaken goes beyond theoretical discussions and global analysis. It needs to be framed in a manner that can lead to immediate action by humanitarians that are operational in the country contexts studied.

In Phase I of this initiative, InterAction undertook a comprehensive desk review, identified the research question and sub-questions to be studied, developed the action-based methodology and framework for the study, and identified key partners that would contribute to the study.[1]

Phase II of this initiative seeks a Consultancy Research Team to help carryout the study. This will entail finalizing the action-based research methodology, engaging with the Country Groups in the prioritized countries (i.e., multi-disciplinary and interagency staff in-country that will help engage in the research and support logistics on the ground), developing in more detail the research tools, workshops, and interview questions for the key informant interviews (KII) and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), and leading the research study across the 2-3 contexts. The Consultancy Research Team will also lead the analysis at each country level and identify patterns and trends across all contexts to produce a global study report. The Research Team will work closely with InterAction and the Global Advisory Group throughout the research study. The research is expected to begin in each country location by September 2022 with a final global report produced no later than March 2023.

The Action-Based Research will explore at least 2-3 countries. Priority countries for this research include Afghanistan, the Sahel (Liptako-Gourma area bordering Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso), South Sudan, Northeast Nigeria, and the DRC.

 

Action-Based Research

Action-based research is a methodology that prioritizes a collaboration between the researchers and those directly involved in or affected by the issue at hand in order to bring about particular changes tailored to each individual context studied. In this study, this includes actors engaged in both programming and policy making, but also communities directly affected by the issues. In addition to conducting interviews or surveys to collect data, this study will engage relevant stakeholders in activities that can support decision-making and action-planning immediately as findings emerge. Carefully designed workshops that use practical engagement methods will be used to draw out data critical to an overarching analysis, but individual findings at the country level should also allow participants to make immediate, context specific modifications to their own programmes and approaches.

Position Objective

Position Title:

Consultancy Team – Action-Based Research Study (Protection & Conflict Induced Food Insecurity)

Position Type:

Consultancy 90 days over 8 months

Timeframe:

August – March 31st, 2023

Location:

Homebased/working remotely. Travel will be required for this consultancy.

Reporting:

Senior Advisor – Protection

Consultancy Rate:

Daily Rate

Essential Functions and Deliverables:

InterAction seeks applications from consultancy teams to lead an action-based research study on protection and conflict-induced food insecurity.

The consultancy team will be expected to undertake several key activities to achieve the expected deliverables. These include:

August – September:

  • Review and finalize the action-based research methodology and tools, including the results-based protection workshops that complement any primary data collection. These should be tailored to each individual context where the research will take place.
  • Liaise with the Country Groups to organize and plan for each country research study, including training on data security and ethical research protocols, developing a country-specific research plan that outlines KII, FGDs, RBP Workshops (protection analysis, theories of change, outcome mapping), and identify priority focus areas and key stakeholders to interview or engage in the research.
  • Hold virtual calls and workshops with Country Groups in support of the research prior to arriving in-country. This includes supporting any testing of methods prior to conducting the actual research.
  • Through the Country Groups, support the use of the Protection Information Management (PIM) matrix to identify existing data and gaps in support of the research objectives. Results should help lead to secondary sources of data; engage with Country Groups to support the collection of this information where possible to begin initial research analysis and to better tailor in-country research activities.
  • Develop a multi-country plan and timeframe (endorsed by the Global Advisory Group) to support the full research study

October – December

  • Carryout the research study in select country locations that includes:
    • Primary data collection through KIIs and FGDs
    • Results-Based Protection workshops on protection analysis, theories of change, and the use of other outcome-oriented methods that can help support the research and country-specific action plans
    • Analyze country-specific research finding
    • Produce country reports and initial action plans for mobilizing key stakeholders to respond to protection risks manifested because of conflict-induced food insecurity
  • Analyze research findings to identify cross-country patterns and trends
  • Produce initial draft Global Report

January – February

  • Work with InterAction to implement leadership-level simulation workshops based on the country-findings to identify strategic level actions at country, regional, and/or global levels. This will help explore how leaders make decisions and what is necessary to influence National, Regional, US and Global policy making on protection and conflict-induced food insecurity.

March

  • Produce final Global Research Report that highlights country-specific case studies, cross-country/global patterns, and includes recommendations for programming and policy decisions.
  • Engage in launch events surrounding the report and findings

Expected Deliverables Include

  • A detailed workplan/timeline noting deadlines and key milestones for achieving the final global research report
  • A compilation of all materials and tools to support the methodology for the research. This should include interview questions for KIIs and FGDs, workshop materials/PowerPoints and/or guidance for participatory activities that will complement KIIs and FGDs (i.e., undertaking a protection analysis, developing context-specific ToC, use of outcome mapping, etc), and consent forms and relevant safety protocols. All materials/tools will be approved by InterAction and the Advisory Group prior to implementation of the research
  • Detailed analysis per country context accompanied by context-specific ToCs to support in-country action planning
  • Country Research report per research location highlighting key findings and recommendations
  • Leadership simulation summary report noting key challenges, sticking points, and opportunities that can be used to produce recommendations and key messages for national, regional, US and global policy asks
  • Final Global Research Report highlighting trends and key recommendations across all contexts that can be used to influence decision-making at country level, regional level, and global level programming and policy

Qualifications

  • Demonstrated experience designing and undertaking action-based research that has led to real-time decision-making that can influence policies and actions
  • Experience undertaking research or programmatic operations within humanitarian action or development settings
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience of humanitarian crises, including the humanitarian architecture and how it functions (i.e., clusters, humanitarian country teams (HCT), roles of agencies, and other actors

Thematic/Technical Experience (highly desirable for at least one of the following)

  • An understanding of conflict-induced hunger and how protection risks are manifested.
  • An understanding of protection outcomes, risk reduction and the key elements of results-based protection within humanitarian action.
  • An understanding of GBV prevention, familiarity with new research and evidence demonstrating what works to prevent GBV in humanitarian crises.
  • An understanding of how parties to a conflict contribute to protection risks, specifically as it relates to conflict-induced hunger, and what considerations can be used to influence their behavior and actions to reduce risk.

Research and Interagency Experience

  • Proven experience in a research field with sound understanding of research methodologies, including action-based research.
  • Experience working within a team, engaging multiple organizations, and managing different perspectives, expectations, and contributions
  • Able to work independently, taking initiative and managing activities and deadlines without significant guidance
  • Excellent verbal and written communication with a wide range of stakeholders
  • Ability to multi-task, prioritize, and mange time and competing demands effectively while working under pressure with tight deadlines
  • Able to balance the need to work independently while collaborating closely with the InterAction team and other relevant actors
  • Fluency in English required, other languages desirable

Requirements

There are no extraordinary physical requirements for the performance of the essential functions of this position. InterAction will make reasonable accommodation to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential functions.

Supervisory Responsibilities:

None

Compensation:

Daily/Hourly Rate for approximately 90 days over eight months

Expected Start Date:

August 1, 2021

Reports to:

Senior Advisor-Protection

Travel:

Travel will be expected under this contract. Any potential travel would be discussed in the context of the evolving situation and restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic and conflict-related security issues.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or veteran status.

To Apply:

Recruitment will be carried out over two rounds.

Round One:

Interested teams should send a completed application that explains their interest, the composition of the team, a detailed explanation of their experience in carrying out action-based research, and their background on the research subject matter and why they would be qualified for this research. All applications should include:

  • Application Paper of Interest that addresses qualifications relevant to this solicitation and explains the composition of the team and their respected roles for this research study. This paper should include a detailed explanation of the team’s experience in the subject matter and their understanding of the issues that this research will explore. The paper should also highlight types of participatory workshops that could be used in the research that use results-based approaches to protection, systems-thinking, or outcome-oriented approaches. Please explain how these methods will complement any key informant interviews and focus group discussions to gather primary data for the study. The paper should be no longer than 7 pages.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) for each team member
  • An example of past research carried out that demonstrates familiarity with participatory methodologies and supports action-based research
  • Consultancy team proposed day and hourly rate (please include the rates of all team members if different), for a period of approximately 90 days over eight months. It is not expected that all team members will work 90 days.

Round two:

Selected teams that meet the initial qualifications will be contacted and asked to review the draft Research Framework that has was developed during Phase I of this initiative. Applicants will be given 7 business days to build on this Framework to enhance and propose additional methodologies or approaches; produce a proposed timeline for carrying out the research and final deliverables, propose a workplan indicating how the above activities will be carried out, noting which deliverables will be completed and when within the August 2022 to March 2023 timeframe. If selected to participate in Round Two, more details will be shared to prepare for this portion of the application and interview process.

TO APPLY

To apply, please send a completed application with the aforementioned documents to iakinmade@interaction.org with the email heading ‘Action-Based Research Consultancy.’

Prior to applying, please view the supporting document here: https://protection.interaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ABR_Summary-note_Final.pdf

The deadline to apply is Friday, July 1, 2022!!!  Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered for this position. Due to the volume of applications, only finalists will be notified, no phone calls please!

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