Consultancy - Development and sustainability of NGOs coordination modalities’ options for Humanitarian Response in the whole of Syria

Programs Amman, Jordan


Project/Consultancy Title: Development and sustainability of NGOs coordination modalities’ options for Humanitarian Response in the whole of Syria   
Project Location(s): Amman, Jordan (Remote as well)   
The Whole of Syria (WoS) system was established following UNSCR 2165 (2014) in order to bring together multiple response areas under a common coordination framework.  This included direct programming and cross-border assistance in non-government-controlled areas including (then) Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. Whilst the context has changed including the closure of a Jordan hub providing cross-border into Syria, and a reduction in the number of UNSC authorised border crossings for the UN, the rationale for the WoS remains as pertinent today as when it was conceived. NGOs across the response believe that in the current circumstances, an evolved WoS architecture – with a centralising and coordinating function sat outside of any of the three equal operational response areas – is more necessary than ever for a safe, coherent, adaptable, and principled response in three distinct but linked contexts.     
Issues with the operationalisation of the WoS approach have continued to exist with the changing context, and some practical coordination approaches have failed to adapt or have been deprioritised. The WoS approach has been criticised as being extensive, expensive, and ineffective. While NGOs believe a more flexible model is needed, the principles that underpin that WoS approach remain more valid than ever, and are necessary in this evolving context. As the humanitarian access environment continues to change with the failure of the UNSC Resolution 2672 on cross-border access, NGOs remain concerned of the potential risks that could threaten the ability to continue to provide sustained and principled humanitarian assistance to affected populations across all three operational response areas.   
Against the backdrop of such a scenario, humanitarian agencies are considering options for an operational response model which allows for continued access in all areas of Syria and maintains a principled response. The primary goal of the different approaches must be to ensure humanitarian aid can safely reach those in need in the most effective, dignified, transparent and principled manner.    
NGOs have a growing concern of a slow dismantling and erosion of the WoS approach and architecture by external stakeholders. Therefore, it is necessary that NGOs take a proactive step to analyse the status of the system, and the potential options that can allow NGOs to maintain a principled response and a collective way forward. It is a critical moment for the response with the need to develop a path for a collective buy-in with all NGO actors across the response and to address decreasing financial support to humanitarian response in Syria.   
Claiming Value for Money, certain actors have initiated the relocation of Whole of Syria technical coordinators to one of the three hubs, and coordinators have been increasingly assuming double-hatting responsibilities, wherein they are simultaneously fulfilling coordination roles while also working within their respective agencies. This emerging trend is a significant indication of the erosion of the Whole of Syria response. It is crucial to closely monitor this situation, assess the potential impact on the effectiveness of the response efforts and identify potential alternatives.   
Purpose / Project Description:   
This consultancy aims to assist NGOs involved in the Syria response in reviewing and developing future operating models within the Whole of Syria (WoS) approach. It will encompass an examination of coordination and leadership options, considering the requirements at response, regional, and global levels. The current WoS architecture and the status of other stakeholders, such as the United Nations, donors, and national NGOs, will be analysed in relation to the WoS approach. Additionally, alternative architectures and approaches that uphold the fundamental principles of the WoS approach will be explored. Ultimately, this process will culminate in the creation of a roadmap and pathway for NGOs to sustain a principled and relevant response.   
The consultant will be responsible for conducting consultations and collaborating with relevant stakeholders within the IASC system, including INGOs, NNGOs, UN, donors, and external stakeholders. The primary objective will be to engage necessary actors and facilitate meaningful discussions to support NGOs in developing options for an effective model.   
Consultant Objectives:   
The following key aspects will be considered as part of the consultancy:   
Review and Proposal for enhancing the WoS approach through alternative coordination modalities: The review will assess the existing Whole of Syria (WoS) approach, including its working methods, structure, and engagement with stakeholders. It will carefully analyse the current state of the WoS approach, identifying any threats and risks that may hinder its effectiveness, transparency, accountability, and adherence to principles. Based on this assessment, the consultant will propose options for future operating modalities that address the identified risks and ensure a more effective, transparent, and principled approach moving forward.   
Humanitarian response leadership and support: The consultancy will propose options on how the leadership of the humanitarian response would need to operate, including linkages between NGO mechanisms and UN structures, linkages with donors or diplomatic channels, linkages with regional/global support/coordination functions (IASC, ICVA, InterAction etc). This may include triggers and indicators for when the system may need to pivot in certain directions based on contextual changes.   
Consultant Activities:   
The Consultant will:   
  • Review key documentation: A review of current written documentation, including legal frameworks, positions of the UN, Humanitarian agencies, state and non state actors, operational and coordination documentation and existing planning efforts;
  • Consult with key actors: Consultation meetings with humanitarian NGOs, the UN system, relevant state and non-state actors, researchers/analysts and relevant global focal points to identify current risks, challenges and potential ways forward for the set-up of an operating model; 
  • Develop an options paper, including related roadmaps: Following consultations, the development of an initial options paper for the WoS response, including potential risks and opportunities, to be presented to humanitarian agencies and donors/external stakeholders;
Consultant Deliverables:   
The Consultant will deliver:   
  • Report on Whole of Syria Approach documental review;
  • Transcript of key informant interviews and consultations;
  • Options paper for operational model for refinement and discussion;
  • Presentation of options paper to SIRF Board.
Timeframe / Schedule:  Consultancy timeline is March 4-28, 2024   
The Consultant will report to: SIRF Representative Giovanni Sciolto   
The Consultant will work closely with: This consultancy would be intended to work collaboratively with humanitarian NGOs and other stakeholders across the WoS response   
Required Experience & Skills:   
It is anticipated that a senior level consultant would be contracted, with significant high-level experience in humanitarian leadership and coordination. The consultant would need to consult international and national NGOs and networks, and with external stakeholders including UN and donors and so a high level of diplomacy and experience in interagency coordination and advisory  is required.  Experience with the Syria context would be highly desirable given the complexity of the coordination architecture, and experience working with NGO forums or coordination systems and the UN system at HCT level would be essential.   
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.
Interested candidates should submit an expression of interest and summary budget to SIRF Representative Giovanni Sciolto at [email protected] to apply. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with priority for those received on/before March 4, 2024.