Consultant - Exploring Referral Pathways from Cash to Livelihoods Assistance - Remote

Programs Anywhere, United States



Over the course of seven years of direct relief assistance provision, including cash assistance in conflict-affected governorates in Iraq, the country is entering into a more stabilized phase as it witnesses several waves of returns from recently closed IDP camps. Efforts to improve services amongst both NGOs and government actors are ongoing within this new context, particularly across Ninewa and Anbar governorates.

Experience to date shows increasing demand amongst eligible households to diversify income, improve livelihood opportunities and promote self-reliance.[1] The CLCI recently conducted a randomized control trial to test the impact of deliberate variations in the design and delivery of the Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance, targeting conflict affected households. One of the key recommendations from the study was to provide cash transfers as part of livelihood interventions.

As a result, to the current shifting in Iraq’s context from humanitarian emergency to economic recovery, and to reflect on the study’s expectations, while considering lessons learnt from previous MPCA and livelihoods activities over the years, Mercy Corps (as part of the CLCI) is interested to understand and explore the best pathways for multi-layered approach by referring MPCA programs participants to receive livelihoods assistance in alignment with CLCI’s integrated strategy.

Purpose / Project Description:

This research opportunity is aligned to the CLCI’s Research and Learning Strategy objective to explore best practices for referrals between cash and livelihoods assistance to promote restored financial stability by re-starting livelihoods, aiming to increase resilience and achieve self-reliance of our program participants in a cost-effective and efficient way. Findings will be critical in informing future programming which is evolving to a focus on economic recovery and market system development in Iraq.

Consultant Objectives:

  • Perceptions of Participants: To learn from program participants the perceptions of and preferences related to cash and livelihoods programming to inform future program design. This will include satisfaction with perception of and preferences with regard to alternative delivery modalities, recommendations for improving the economic empowerment outcomes of future participants from the perspective of the participants. Differences in perceptions based on type of household should be taken into account.
  • Operational Models: Understanding the layered approach implemented by two CLCI partners and identifying best practices and lessons learned about ideal timing for referrals and donors’ flexibility to choose the best-integration responses in future programing. This will include examining the targeting, the timing, the implementation, the monitoring and evaluating, the communication with communities from the perspective of the implementers in order to identify gaps, challenges, best practices and lessons learned.
  • Recommendations: Based on the perceptions of participants and the analysis of the operational models that have been used, develop actionable recommendations for the CLCI and other actors implementing referrals in Iraq that can improve and support the harmonization of the approach to referrals from cash to livelihoods programming. There should be recommendations for both implementers and donors.

Consultant Activities:

The proposed research aims to explore the pathway from emergency assistance to sustainable livelihoods. This will involve three key components:

  1. Desk Review: The consultant will conduct a desk review and produce a preliminary report with bibliography on existing data and research. A desk review will provide information and analysis, incorporating secondary resources during this initial phase of the research. The desk review will include global and regional literature on referral pathways and literature from the Iraq country context.
  2. Participants’ Perceptions Analysis: The consultant should propose a methodology that will effectively unpack program participants’ preferences and perspectives around layered assistance and how these have (or are expected to) contribute to household resilience in the face of shocks and stresses. Possible techniques include a user journey mapping or a personas exercise (example1, example2). The data collection will be carried out by a Mercy Corps team of a sample of CLCI participants who received both MPCA and additional livelihood support and the consultant will be responsible for remotely training and managing the data collectors before and during the data collection process. The Mercy Corps team will be responsible for translation of the transcripts into English. 
  3. Key Informant Interviews: The consultant will conduct qualitative interviews with the CLCI technical team who supervised and managed internal referral systems, to identify, explain and explore potential roots for referrals, gaps, challenges, areas of improvement, and replicable successes.

Consultant Deliverables:

The Consultant will deliver:

  • Inception report (10-20 pages, excluding annexes for surveys)
  • Field-ready survey tool/guide
  • Draft report (20-30 pages)
  • Presentation of findings
  • Final report (20-30 pages) including the following:
    • Cover Page
    • List of Acronyms
    • Table of Contents
    • Executive Summary (2-3 pages)
    • Methodology
    • Findings
    • Recommendations
    • Annexes
  • Summary report (5-10 pages)

Timeframe / Schedule: 

  • Desk review – 5 days
  • Inception report and Tool Development – 5 days
  • Virtually Training Field Staff/Enumerators – 2 days
  • Tool Testing – 2 days
  • Perception Survey Data Analysis and Results – 5 days
  • KIIs with CLCI Technical Team Members – 3 days
  • KII Data Analysis and Results – 3 days
  • Draft Report – 3 days
  • Validation of Findings – 1 day
  • Review Feedback and Finalize Report – 2 days
  • Presentation of Final Report – 1 day

* The consultancy period will be for a period of a total three months. Applicants need to clearly break down this time-period of three months into specific activities in the technical proposal.

The Consultant will report to:

Cash and Livelihoods Consortium for Iraq (CLCI) Director

The Consultant will work closely with:
CLCI Research, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator
Economic Recovery Programs Manager / Mercy Corps
MEL Manager / Mercy Corps

Required Experience & Skills:

  • 5-10 years of experience in relevant technical field
  • A reputed individual with proven experience in conducting qualitative research. Past experience with user journeys or personas research (desired).
  • Demonstrated experience conducting in-depth research for humanitarian programs, including management and delivery of supporting survey activities (qualitative surveys and KIIs)
  • Preferable to have experience of working in the Middle East, including Iraq
  • Demonstrated experience and work exposure with IDPs, refugees, and host communities
  • Experience of coordinating with diverse set of stakeholders, including government institutions, donor’s representatives, local and international NGOs
  • Fluency in English (essential) and command in Arabic (desired)

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.

[1] Self-reliance is the social and economic ability of an individual, a household or a community to meet essential needs (including food, water, shelter, personal safety, health and education) in a sustainable manner and with dignity – developing and strengthening livelihoods of persons of concern and reducing their vulnerability and long-term reliance on humanitarian assistance (Source: RLSS/DOS/UNHCR)