05 May 2016

Consultant - Community Connector Learning Review Career Jobs - QED Group, LLC

Organization: QED Group, LLC
Duty Station: Kampala, Uganda

About QED:
The QED Group, LLC is a full-service international development firm that provides practical solutions to social problems through sound analysis, proven management techniques, and creative implementation. We focus our efforts on two core practice areas: Monitoring & Evaluation and Knowledge Management. We work with U.S. agencies and overseas governments, international donors, private-sector clients, and PVOs/NGOs in more than 80 countries around the world. Key clients include USAID, the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

A.    Introduction and Background
Community Connector (CC) is Feed the Future’s (FTF) integrated nutrition and agriculture activity in Uganda. Contracted to FHI360, this 5-year activity (2011-2016) is being implemented by a consortium of partners to provide innovative, multi-sectoral solutions to support comprehensive improvements in household food security, income, and nutrition. USAID’s design and procurement processes for the Community Connector mechanism included many innovations intended to promote adaptive design and management of Community Connector, as an expression of a collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA) approach to project design and management[1].

As part of USAID/Uganda (and broader) agency efforts to capture Community Connector’s implementation experience, several studies, assessments and CLA-focused reports have been produced.  These exercises have probed questions related to Activity design and the infusion of CLA approaches; documentary video of Community Connector’s work and achievements; periodic briefs produced by the Implementing Partner summarizing lessons learned around technical or topical issues of interest (e.g., working with youth, and integrated programming models).  While these important knowledge products continue to emerge from ‘pause and reflect’ moments throughout Community Connector’s life cycle, there is interest in reviewing the nature of technical accomplishments and the results achieved to date, particularly as Community Connector approaches the final six months of its implementation timeframe.  Additionally, there is interest by USAID/Uganda to validate and assess the relevance and scale-up potential of specific intervention models programmed under Community Connector.  Ultimately, the learning generated through a learning review of intervention design and delivery will help to build institutional memory across the Mission, and inform technical (programmatic) scoping and implementation support needs going forward. 

B.    Overall Goals, Priorities and Purpose of the Learning Review
This learning review is designed to provide additional evidence and learning to support ongoing reporting of activity results, over the remaining course of the Community Connector lifetime. While not to serve as an evaluation, USAID/Uganda’s Vulnerable Populations Unit seeks to gather at least illustrative ‘proof of progress’ Community Connector has made over the life of the Activity, with a particular emphasis on key technical approaches that the team considers at the core of its programming approach. The proposed priority areas and focus questions for review are:

1.       What has been the effectiveness of ‘Savings with a Purpose’ (SWAP) as an entry point for nutrition messaging?  To what extent have nutrition-related behavior change communication approaches been enhanced and/or mainstreamed through selected entry points?

2.      How has the choice of income-generating agricultural activities/crops affected the level of success in achieving household financial goals for the beneficiaries? (i.e. onions, potato seed, apiary, etc.)?   How well have income-generating activities performed in different implementation contexts?

3.      What has been the effectiveness of the entrepreneur ‘jumpstart’ program (targeted to community knowledge workers and village health technicians)?  How well have various technical components of the program fit with and contributed to broader community development goals?

A key aspect of this Learning Review is to successfully balance USAID’s interest in an objective (data-supported) look at Community Connectors’ results, with the ambitious timeline for conducting qualitative data collection and contextualization of the lessons. The accelerated timeline for this Learning Review is in part driven by Community Connector’s pending end date, December 2016, coupled with the Mission’s keen interest in learning and quickly applying recommendations from the Activity’s experience in terms of what worked and did not, in relation to core technical approaches.

C.    Audience

The primary audience for wider sharing of the lessons and recommendations include the Vulnerable Populations Unit as well as nutrition/health-related technical teams (Activity Management staff), the Program Office and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialists at USAID/Uganda.  Other technical offices at the Mission can also benefit from a joint review of the methodology and approach used to conduct this Learning Review.  The contracted Implementing Partner (FHI360) shall also be in receipt of the findings in the spirit of shared learning and collaborative synthesis on program improvement. 

The learning product from this Learning Review can/should inform integrated approaches for USAID/Uganda going forward, as part of the Mission’s broader strategic planning effort under the development and launch of its new Country Development and Coordination Strategy (CDCS). The recommendations will have implications beyond the ag-nutrition intersect, and will have utility for tracking and reporting against results that can be achieved (as well as challenges faced) under an integrated Activity.

D.   Proposed Approach and Methodology
The Community Connector Learning Review is anticipated to be a relatively rapid and focused exercise, combining document review, targeted interviews and group discussions, plus field visits and observations. It is anticipated that the Implementing Partner team will inform methodological considerations and engagement processes selected for conducting this Learning Review.  

Document Review:  Document review will be a core task in this learning process, including the review of the Activity scope, work plans and reports, which serve to capture and represent both the technical approaches and results achieved over the course of the Activity. The IP team has been requested to make available all requested documents.  Additional documents can include initial design and program description documentation used during solicitation by USAID/Uganda, plus references that incorporate decisions and adaptations in programming approaches.  Activity reporting against indicators and targets over the course of implementation may also be referenced as additional ‘evidence’ of progress and achievements.

Data Extraction and Analysis:  As part of the objective, data-driven component of this Learning Review, reporting and data entry into USAID/Uganda’s Performance Reporting System (PRS) and the Feed the Future Management Information System (FTFMS) by Community Connector, including other information tracked and documented by the Implemented Partner shall be extracted and assessed for progress against targets and indicator performance, achievement trends, and other comparative/cross-referencing analyses.  Quantitative progress against expected results will be compared against qualitative reporting, with particular attention to the interpretation and documentation of progress markers and extent to which results were positive, and for which programming approaches/ technical interventions a ‘high’ level of effectiveness can be determined.  Data extraction and analytical procedures will be more formally described in the inception report, but are expected to be mapped against the core lines of inquiry (and further proposed sub-questions) for this Learning Review.

Site Visits and Field-based Observations: Through a non-representative sampling method, the Learning Review should seek to include site visits which cover a diverse geographic range (including both the North and Southwest), as well as seeking to limit selection bias resulting from ‘convenience’ sampling. It is anticipated that the Learning Review team will visit in the order of 25-35 communities (each community including a group that Community Connector is working with, and at least one SWAP in each community), convening gender-specific focus groups and targeted discussions in each. It should be noted that Community Connector works in some of the hardest to reach areas of Uganda, and with the pending/early rainy season, reaching some of these locations may pose a particular challenge. Consideration of the option to convene community members in relatively central locations will be essential for feasibility of these visits.

Interviews and Discussions with Technical Teams
Both structured (planned) and opportune (informal dialogue) conversations and interviews with technical implementation staff at USAID/Uganda and the Implementing Partner are anticipated.  These discussions will serve to assist with contextualizing ‘hard evidence’ and in-field observations, as well as gather feedback on what has been achieved from different perspectives.  Programmatic (implementation-based) and personal (individual) lessons will be cross-referenced to actual results reported to create a full picture of how and under what conditions technical approaches have contributed to results.

E.    Management and Resources
USAID/Uganda’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Program (The Learning Contract) is tasked with sourcing staff members and/or a short-term consultant (or an appropriate balance of both) to conduct this review. It is anticipated that the review will require a team that can complete the document review, conduct interviews and hold focus group discussions, complete the requisite number and diversity of site visits, and synthesize the findings into the expected deliverables and learning products. Completion of this Learning Review will also require translation support per the working (and preferred) languages in regions and communities, with noted professionalism to enhance, rather than bias, data gathering.

Concerning management of the timeline and deliverables under this Scope of Work, the Learning Contract anticipates accelerated efforts (and has already begun to) source a number of candidates from its consultant pool, as well as qualified personnel through QED’s home office.  Early identification of internally available candidates against availability projections for short-team technical assistance (STTA) will provide the managing team with options against which proposed timelines and timeliness of this learning review can be maintained.

Given the priority on obtaining relatively objective findings, USAID/Uganda anticipates minimal direct participation by its technical team members.

Points of Contact
Respective coordination leads for this Learning Review are:
·         USAID/Uganda VPU: Ruth Sempa, Lily Kenny (for technical feedback, IP coordination, final approval of deliverables)
·         USAID/Uganda PPD: Lane Pollack (for Learning Review design/scoping, Mission-engagement, coordination of meetings with USAID/Uganda as part of this Learning Review)
·         Learning Contract: Stuart Belle (for management and coordination by the Learning Contract)

The Learning Contract’s point of contact will:
ü  Ensure final submission and approval of the SOW for this Learning Review
ü  Work with the Learning Contract’s operational team to identify a qualified Consultant for USAID/Uganda approval
ü  Coordinate the active participation of Learning Contract staff throughout and particularly at key points during this Learning Review (e.g., data pulls and preliminary analyses, participation in field visits, tools/templates development, weekly debriefs and syntheses)
ü  Work with the Consultant to ensure complete, high quality, and timely completion of deliverables
ü  Coordinate with USAID/Uganda point(s) of contact to plan/conduct the inception meeting, schedule rolling meetings (including those with the IP), presentations/synthesis discussions, and the gathering and incorporation of feedback/comments on deliverables
ü  Facilitate and complete the AAR write-up

            Logistical Support and Key Roles
The Learning Contract will provide administrative and coordination support necessary for performance of this Learning Review, including office space, accommodation arrangements, transportation (within Kampala and to field sites), office supplies/stationery, communications equipment, and other logistical requirements (including sourcing of translators).

The Learning Contract (personnel from the M&E unit) shall be assume responsibility for data extraction and preliminary analysis (e.g., sorting and early trend analyses).  This shall then be handed over to the Consultant for more specific/pinpointed analysis.  Detailed review of what data is currently available and which is most pertinent to this Learning Review shall be discussed during a further scoping and design meeting with USAID/Uganda and the Implementing Partner to take place within 1 week of the Mission’s approval of this SOW.

Active participation by staff of the Learning Contract is expected, particularly during data collection, analysis and synthesis stages of this Learning Review.  Depending on the finally agreed/selected number of sites to visit, Learning Contract staff may join with the Consultant to visit all of those sites selected (determined to be important for this review and feasible to access/meet with).  Alternatively, per the total number of sites determined Learning Contract staff may visit a select (sub-set) number of community sites, with the majority of visits being conducted by the Consultant.  Per the agreed-upon schedule for field work, debriefs following regional visits or weekly debriefs shall be facilitated by the Learning Contract’s task manager/point of contact – happening in-person, in–field or via phone call (mobile or Skype) to synthesize observations, emerging findings, probing questions for follow-on qualitative data gathering and/or quantitative analysis.  Prior to data collection and deployment to the field, the Learning Review team shall develop and commit to use as set of interview preliminary questions plus observational tools and documentation templates to facilitate real-time and systematic capture and information management during the Learning Review.

This SOW shall be shared with the Implementing Partner by USAID/Uganda to ensure their awareness and understanding of the exercise, and to invite their input/contribution to particular sub-questions and logistical considerations.  The Implementing Partner shall also be in support of access to documents, and progress/performance reports, availing necessary data and/or information on technical approaches, plus logistical feasibility and the collaborative selection of community sites, and additional referrals needed to complete this Learning Review.

F.     Period of Performance
This Learning Review is expected to commence not later than May 16, 2016, with a completion date of June 15, 2016.  Progression to completion should follow this general timeline:

·         SOW final and approved by USAID/Uganda (April 25)
·         Consultant selection and approval (May 9)
·         Inception meeting and Learning Review kick-off (May 12)
·         Evidence review and data collection, including field visits (May 16 – June 3)
·         Draft report delivered to the Learning Contract (by June 10)
·         Presentation and discussion of findings and recommendations, with feedback (June 12)
·         Final DRAFT of the Learning Review deliverables – final presentation slides used during the ‘synthesis moment’ and narrative report submitted for final USAID/Uganda review (June 15)
·         After Action Review, facilitated by the Learning Contract (June 16) 

G.    Description of Deliverables
USAID/Uganda expects to receive the following from this review process:
1.       Scope of Work with proposed methodology – for final approval, to be submitted by the Learning Contract
2.      A PowerPoint or Prezi-based presentation – to be assembled by the Consultant
3.      A draft and final – to be submitted by the Consultant for USAID review, edits and approval
4.      An AAR write-up – facilitated and prepared by the Learning Contract

Presentation of the Learning Review findings shall take the form of an interactive reflection, synthesis and discussion with the team(s) at USAID/Uganda and with the Implementing Partner (as appropriate).  The presentation is not expected to take the form of a lecture, but should be an interactive, collaborative working space where a reflection on the process of conducting the Learning Review (i.e., getting to answers), what has been learned, as well as the recommendations and their implications are unpacked, honed, and reviewed for significance and coherence.  This session is anticipated to last up to 90 minutes, with 40 minutes presentation time, 30 minutes of question and answer, and a final 20 minutes to confirm next steps towards finalization.  A draft report from the Learning Review shall be circulated not later than 3 working days in advance of this session.  This presentation shall be made not later than June 10 (per the above Period of Performance section)

The final report from the Learning Review shall not exceed 25 pages (minus annexes of data analyses, highlights and/or synthesis of notes from interviews/group discussions, and other ‘evidence’), and shall include a 2-page executive summary, an introduction and a section on context (within which Community Connector operates), a discussion of the methodology/Learning Review approach, findings/conclusions, recommendations/implications for the design and selection of technical approaches in the Ugandan development context(s), a section on lessons learned or Consultant reflections concerning broader observations on development in Uganda .  The inclusion of a map, judicial insertion of photos or other visuals, and the use of innovative data visualization/infographic tools is recommended. The final slides from the presentation (above) shall accompany the final submitted report.

All Consultant deliverables (including all raw data and evidence gathered during the Learning Review) are to be submitted directly to the Learning Contract, who will then ensure that content, quality and other publishing requirements are in place before making an official presentation of the deliverable(s) to USAID/Uganda.

The Learning Contract shall consolidate feedback gathered during the AAR and prepare/ready this documentation for sharing with USAID/Uganda not later than June 23.  Pending receipt and comments/feedback from USAID on the final draft of the Learning Review report, the Learning Contract shall amend accordingly, and submit a final Learning Review report within 5 working days of USAID/Uganda’s final comments.

As noted above, this Learning Review needs to be completed by June 15th, and as a result, appropriate/further scoping (i.e., sub-questions), expectations and methodological considerations must be taken into account. While the USAID/Uganda team does not expect a highly rigorous, evaluative approach, priority is placed on a Learning Review process that yields credible, objective, and actionable findings. In order to achieve this output by the stated deadline, a focused and agile approach must be taken.

H.   Anticipate Level of Effort
The anticipated level of effort (LOE) for this Learning Review is project at approximately 25 days, broken down as follows:

Inception briefing and refinement of methodology/approach
Initial document review
Data collection/site visits
Consolidation, synthesis and report/presentation drafting
Final report/learning product preparation, and AAR participation
Total LOE
25 days (FTE)

I.      Team Composition/Qualifications and Experience
A primary, single qualified Consultant is proposed to conduct this Learning Review.  It is anticipated that the selected consultant shall have:

ü  An advanced (Master’s) degree in public health/nutrition, human/social development or other technical area related to community/international development (e.g., agriculture, livelihoods)
ü  At least 7 years’ proven experience conducting program assessments, evaluations and/or action research
ü  Demonstrated skill in quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis techniques, including strong synthesis, and writing and presentation capabilities
ü  Possess a deep appreciation for and able to incorporate ethical and gender considerations as part of assessments/evaluations/research
ü  Firmly familiar with approaches to constructing and reviewing theories of change, logic models and causal pathways

As noted above, designated staff from the Knowledge Management and Learning and/or the Monitoring and Evaluation units from the Learning Contract are anticipated to participate in and contribute to this Learning Review through data extractions, assuring document availability, observations and selected interviews/discussion facilitation during field visits, and overall synthesis with the Consultant. 

How to Apply:
All suitably qualified and interested Candidates who meet the above criteria should send their CV, Cover letter and Bio Data Form, download here, expressing interest to thelearningcontract.recruit@gmail.com with the subject line as “ATTN: Consultant for Community Connector Learning Review”

Deadline: Friday, 20th May, 2016

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