Consultant - Capacity Building for Concept and Practice of Self Help Group - South Sudan
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Mercy Corps began its work in Sudan in 1985, where we responded to the drought emergency, supporting displaced communities. Since 2005, Mercy Corps has had a permanent presence in southern Sudan continuing its work in both Sudan and South Sudan to meet people’s immediate needs, and with communities to build local capacity from the ground up and promote economic development. We focus on designing activities that meet the immediate, life-sustaining needs of the most vulnerable populations, while at the same time, create and support the enabling conditions required to transition from food assistance to longer term food security and sustainable livelihoods, and leverage existing programs to best support humanitarian outcomes
Purpose / Project Description:
Mercy Corps implemented a Food Security Livelihoods programme as a pilot phase in Mundri, which was funded by SDC. This provided an opportunity for MC to demonstrate the potential impact of a longer-term livelihoods and resilience programming in Mundri to the donor and as a result, SDC approved a two-year programme called STREAM from December 2020 to November 2022. The overall objective of STREAM is to improve food security of 6,350 households through enhanced gender equitable market access and increased agricultural production and off farm and non-farm livelihood opportunities. The following three outcomes help the programme to achieve this objective:
Outcome 1: Increased food production yields among male and female smallholder farmers in 6,350 targeted farm households
Outcome 2: Increased income for 2,000 male and female youth households engaged in non- farm livelihood opportunities and agro-processing opportunities and off-farm agro-processing opportunities
Outcome 3: Strengthened market systems and local institutions to ensure gender equitable access to financial services, livelihood inputs and extension services for 6,350 households
One of the key areas of intervention, as part of the local institution building under outcome 3, is facilitating the formation and strengthening of Self Help Groups. The concept of SHGs has been borrowed from India, which was subsequently adapted and introduced in Cambodia and Somalia/ Somaliland. Gleaning from the experiences of these countries, MC has introduced the SHG concept into South Sudanese context. A Self Help Group is an autonomous non political group of people, living near each other and sharing common concerns, who come together voluntarily to work jointly, for their personal, social and economic development. These SHGs have savings and credit as one of their core functions, however, they differ from typical VSLA model, in that they do not operate in cycles and they do not ‘break the box’ at the end of a cycle, but function in an iterative manner, where the savings and revenues such as interest etc., would continue to accumulate to enable the group to provide larger loans to members.
The STREAM project plans to form at least 100 SHGs in Mundri East, Mundri West and Koch Counties. At present, over 40 SHGs have been formed with the help of our national NGO partner Active Youth Agency. The team lacks expertise in this concept and have relied on limited exposure provided by the CD and some remote support by a volunteer. This is not sustainable and with the increased number of SHGs and also team members as well as partner and community facilitators, there is a need for a consultant with deep understanding and experience in this concept of SHGs, who can work alongside MC and partner team members as well as community promoters to help them develop capacities in facilitating the SHG processes, assisting them in resolving issues that keep cropping up, ensuring the bookkeeping is accurate and up to date etc. This requires the consultant to provide onsite support as well as distance support over the life of the programme.
The overall objective of the consultancy is to build the capacity of relevant personnel of MC, partner AYA and community promoters in the concept and practice of SHGs, through facilitating workshops, providing coaching and mentoring on the job, holding physical as well as virtual brainstorming and Action – Reflection –Learning – Action sessions.
The Consultant will:
- Carry out a needs-assessment of all relevant MC and partner team members and the promoters engaged in working with Self Help Groups to ascertain their level of KSP related to the concept and practice of SHGs, as a baseline.
- Carry out an assessment of the SHGs that have been formed to get an understanding of their capacities as well as to what extent they embody the true concept of SHGs, their strengths and weaknesses.
- Based on the two assessments, develop an action plan based on this baseline for the capacity building of these teams and corrective action for the SHGs
- Implement the action plan using various methodologies – formal training workshops, coaching -on-job/on-site mentoring, Action – Reflection – Learning – Action sessions to deepen the knowledge, skill and practice levels of the team members about the concept and practice of SHGs
- Develop all needed training modules, learning/IEC materials, handouts and other relevant guidance notes that would aid the team members as a reference document and as a guide in training of groups.
- Develop a comprehensive training manual on SHGs with separate modules as per the SHG stage/phase of development. Train the team members in training delivery for SHGs
- Strengthen bookkeeping skills among team members and especially the community promoters so that the SHGs are trained on bookkeeping
- Help the M&E Team with relevant data collection tools and database for monitoring SHGs on financial and non-financial aspects of SHG functions.
- Train the team and promoters on how to carry out audit of SHGs
- Explore possibilities of federating SHGs at critical and practical levels
- Develop a clear exit strategy that helps the programme from withdrawing from these SHGs and letting them function on their own.
- Provide periodical progress report to the designated line manager as per mutually agreed frequency and a final consultancy completion report.
- Develop a learning document on Self-help group approach in South Sudan for future programing
- Any other aspects of SHG work not specified in this list
The Consultant will ensure the following deliverables:
- An initial capacity assessment report with clear findings and recommendations by way of an action plan
- Well planned training workshops that are tailored to cater to the needs of the training participants – MC team, national partner team as well as the community promoters and delivered in each project location (Mundri and Koch)
- SHG training handbook for trainers of SHGs outlining clear modules of training with training instructions and simplified handouts for participants (MC can arrange support of an artist, if pictorial/ nonverbal messages needed to be added, to work under the guidance of the consultant)
- Specific delivery of bookkeeping training for MC/ partner team members and community promoters.
- A manual for MC and partner team members, complete with relevant templates/ tools and database relevant to collecting financial and non-financial information from SHGs.
- Extensive field visit to SHGs to observe their functioning and use these occasions for both coaching and mentoring of team as well as for ‘Action-Reflection-Learning- Action sessions.
- Trip reports for each of the three trips made to South Sudan during the consultancy – the third trip report being a report for overall consultancy. These reports should essentially document progress made against the stated objective, tasks and deliverables of this consultancy.
- A learning report on SHG programing in South Sudan context of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities that captures the contextual adaptations made to the original SHG concept and the overall performance of the concept and practice and recommendations for the future.
Timeframe / Schedule:
The consultancy is estimated at 90 days for the duration of the programme, ending in November 2022. This will be staggered into three 30-day trips spaced 2-3 months apart as follows (These are tentative dates and may alter based on mutual convenience and agreement):
- First trip – October/November 2021
- Second Trip – January / February 2022
- Third Trip – May / June 2022
The Consultant may be expected to provide distance support, which has not been computed in the calculation above.
The Consultant will report to:
The consultant will report to the Director of Programmes or delegate and works in tandem with the STREAM Programme Manager
The Consultant will work closely with:
The consultant will work closely with the MC STREAM Team and partner AYA – especially with members directly responsible for the SHGs including the community promoters working with SHGs. The consultant will also work closely with the M&E team to assist with defining minimum indicators that need to be incorporated into the database on SHGs. We are likely to use SAVIX information management systems but have not decided yet on its applicability and usefulness in tracking SHG type of information.
Required Experience & Skills:
- At least ten years of experience in managing community development programmes in similar contexts
- Long years of working with CBOs with hands-on experience in community organizing and mobilization around clear themes
- At least ten years of experience in organizing and working with the Indian model of Self Help Groups
- Long years of experience as a trainer, facilitator of Self Help Groups
- Experience of having introduced the concept of SHGs into a new context with relevant adaptations
- Proven training and process facilitation skills, coaching and mentoring skills
- Fluent in written and spoken English
- Willingness and ability to travel and stay in remote locations with basic facilities
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.
We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.
Equal Employment Opportunity
We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.
Safeguarding & Ethics
Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.