Consultant - Study of Risk Management and Accountability practices among NGOs working in Uganda

Consultancies Kampala, Uganda



NGOs have provided humanitarian and development assistance to communities in all regions of Uganda for decades. The operating environment in Uganda is highly challenging and complex, due to continuing refugees’ influx, and high levels of corruption. For a long time, NGOs have encountered operational challenges to their engagement in Uganda and yet have maintained their role of addressing the persistent needs of the communities they work with.

Development and humanitarian actors’ interventions, including INGOs, have however been met with evidence of fraud, instances of aid diversion and, in some cases, insufficient levels of accountability. This has put in question the levels of trust that NGOs have from the vulnerable communities that they target with interventions and from their donors. With the relative improvements in structures and systems for NGO engagement, focus on effective and accountable aid delivery in Uganda is increasing further. Many NGOs have invested significant resources including capacity into strengthening their internal risk management systems and accountability practices. This has not always been effectively communicated externally. Nor have many NGOs shared information with one another in an effort to approach the issue collectively and learn from each other.

Purpose / Project Description:
The objective of this research is to map out and analyse current NGO accountability standards and approaches to risk management in Uganda, looking at all regions and considering both humanitarian direct implementation interventions as well longer term development work that often involves local partners and sub granting arrangements. The research will also involve mapping the major types of risks faced by the NGOs and ranking them. The aim is to identify synergies and points of commonality and to assess gaps. This will allow Internal Risk Management Group members to identify an agreed position on mitigating of risk in general, including the risks of diversion and fraud, SHEA, and to agree on concrete points of intervention or capacity building on risk management. Ultimately the goal is to improve program quality through increased accountability, not just to the communities (Ugandans and refugees) we serve but also to our donors.

The commissioned research will provide evidence on: (1) mapping and categorizing the type of conduct related risks NGOs face (2) current NGO approaches towards risk management and accountability, (3) case studies of positive and negative risk assessment and practical risk mitigation practices, (4) identification of common standards, (5) assessment of donor expectations with regards to risk management and accountability frameworks for Uganda, and (6) recommendations on common accountability standards and risk management guidelines and tools.

For the purpose of this research, the analysis will be limited to INGOs operating in Uganda. The scope of the assessment of risk management and mitigation will extend to efforts made by agencies to mitigate risks before programme interventions, as well as actions taken (if any) to prevent risks during interventions but also, detect and manage risks after their occurrence.

Definition of ‘risk’:
While risk is by definition a broad concept, for purposes of this research, the term risk will be limited in scope to the following particular types of risk: fraud risk, corruption risk and the risk of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment.

i. Fraud Risk
According to the Black’s Law Dictionary, fraud is defined as “a knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment”.
In the context of INGOs, fraud is most commonly perpetrated by staff members of the INGOs but increasingly, it is also perpetrated by 3rd parties such as implementing partners and vendors.

ii. Corruption Risk
According to Transparency International, corruption is defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. Corruption therefore includes the following issues: conflicts of interest, bribery, illegal gratuities, and extortion.
In the context of INGOs in Uganda, the risk of corruption is heightened by the fact that INGOs often need to work closely with the governments which is known to have high levels of corruption. In fact, according to Transparency International, Uganda ranks 149 out of 180 in terms of corruption perception.

iii. Sexual Harassment, Exploitation and Abuse
According to UNHCR, these are defined as follows:

● Sexual exploitation is defined as an actual or attempted abuse of someone’s position of vulnerability (such as a person depending on you for survival, food rations, school books, transport or other services), differential power or trust, to obtain sexual favors, including but not only, by offering money or other social, economic or political advantages. It includes trafficking and prostitution.

● Sexual abuse means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force, or under unequal or coercive conditions. It includes sexual slavery, pornography, child abuse and sexual assault.

● Sexual harassment affects personnel and is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, verbal or physical conduct or gesture of a sexual nature, or any other behavior of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation to another. Sexual harassment is particularly serious. It can interfere with work, be made a condition of employment or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Consultant Activities:

The Consultant will: 

1) Preparatory work and desk review – Estimated 15 days.

- Collection of key risk management documentation from target NGOs that will participate in the research; this documentation should include both global and local policies for INGOs where these differ to enable comparisons.

- Initial desk literature reviews to identify specific risk assessment and management practices, accountability standards in general and if available specific standards that NGOs in Uganda subscribe to as well as a comparison with approaches in other contexts;

- Collaboration with Internal Risk Management Group staff and partners to confirm in-country support and help identify key actors;

- Outline of planned report format, depending on identification of specific risk assessment and management measures.

2) Field Visits – Estimated 15 days based in Kampala  

- Conduct of an estimated 3 interviews per day for in country interviews with targeted NGOs to identify specific risk assessment and management practices as well as accountability standards that NGOs in Uganda subscribe to. NGOs targeted for interviews should reflect diversity in donor relationships, programmatic focus as well as NGO operational size in Uganda. (a core target group of 30 NGOs to be identified). This will involve data and/or literature review of systems and policies of the targeted NGOs.

- Conduct of in-country interviews with an estimated 5 donors and 3 UN agencies to assess expectations with regards to risk management and accountability frameworks for Uganda.

- Draw lessons in comparison to approaches in other contexts.

3) Report consolidation and write up – 7 days.

The consultant’s report should consist of the following key parts:

Part 1 - Context: The report should take into account the different variables in accountability and risk mitigation definitions and approaches by the NGO community in Uganda.

Part 2 – Donor and UN attitudes, approaches and expectations of NGO risk mitigation and accountability as well as the various measures being undertaken by the donor community to enhance accountability. Assessment of current donor expectations for risk management and accountability measures by NGOs in Uganda.

Part 3 - NGO risk behavior and risk management practices: description of current risk assessment and management practices and historical overview of how NGOs have responded to changing contextual risk over the past decade both in humanitarian and development context. Focus should be on identifying synergies and gaps in risk management practices as well as to highlight risk mitigation tools that can be adopted in the Ugandan context.

Part 4 – To the extent possible within this limited study an analysis of the real and perceived effectiveness of risk assessment and management practices, also explaining factors leading to success or identified shortcomings in risk assessment and management.

Part 5: - Checklist of good practice and annexed tool kits for risk management/mitigation and accountability.

Part 6: - Practical recommendations on strengthening risk management practices and accountability standards (focusing on practical approaches). Recommendations should be actionable and targeted to NGOs and where it is relevant, donors. The recommendations should also be ranked by priority to support the development of risk management guidelines in the NGO sector.

Consultant Deliverables:

The Consultant will deliver the following:

A research report which lays out the findings of the research in the format noted above.

Timeframe / Schedule:
The research is expected to last at total of 37 days from contracting.

The Consultant will report to:
Country Director, Mercy Corps Uganda

The Consultant will work closely with:

Required Experience & Skills:

The consultant should have at least 5 years of experience in conducting similar research projects for similar organizations.

The deadline for submitting applications is the 28th of March 2019