Consultant - DRC Resilient Agriculture Impact Assessment - Remote

Programs Anywhere, United States


Description

Background:

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. Now, and for the future.

The Strengthening Capacity in Agriculture, Livelihoods and Environment (SCALE) Award is a capacity strengthening, applied research and knowledge sharing initiative working to ensure that communities and families fully benefit from the U.S. Government’s investments in food security programs. Funded by the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), SCALE works to strengthen the impact, sustainability and scalability of BHA-funded agriculture, natural resource management, and off-farm livelihood activities in both emergency and development contexts. Implemented by Mercy Corps in collaboration with Save the Children, SCALE partners with food security implementers and the broader research community to capture, generate, apply and share knowledge to foster more resilient agricultural systems and enhance income opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable. SCALE is implemented through the Agriculture Technical Support Unit at Mercy Corps.

Mercy Corps’ Resilience Design in Smallholder Farming Systems (RD) Approach guides farmers and communities in adjusting their farm designs in ways that work with surrounding natural systems, improving soil health and water management while bolstering resilience to future shocks and stresses. Mercy Corps is implementing the RD approach in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, as part of the USAID/BHA-funded Food Security Program (FSP). Under this program, Mercy Corps implements the approach on hills (“Hill Approach”) and works with 18 landowners and up to 135 sharecroppers per hill on techniques to decrease soil erosion, enhance soil health and ultimately increase yields.

Purpose / Project Description:

In the implementation of this approach, the Mercy Corps/FSP team has partnered with two local organizations. The Université Evangélique en Afrique (UEA) is a local university based in Bukavu with expertise in environmental rehabilitation. UEA’s role includes the collection of baseline data and monitoring of various indicators of agro-ecological resilience on the hill sites over time including  soil composition and fertility, water retention/infiltration, as well as the uptake of agriculture techniques by participants. Action for Peace and Concord (APC) is a Congolese NGO with expertise in governance and conflict mediation. APC’s role includes the collection of data related to the governance of the hills, including sharecropper and property owner relations and conflict management. A consultant is required to collate and review UEA's and APC’s data, as well as any additional FSP project data associated with the Hill Approach. Based on the review, the consultant will document the findings in a summary report for external audiences including USAID and DRC government stakeholders, and assist in developing a visual summary of the findings for community stakeholders with limited literacy. The consultant will also advise on the need/opportunity to conduct additional studies to provide a robust analysis of the impact of the Hill Approach on soil erosion, water retention, productivity, land-related conflict and governance and overall resilience of farming communities to environmental shocks. These additional studies (if recommended) will be funded under a new SOW.

Consultant Activities

 The Consultant will:

  • Liaise with the Mercy Corps FSP team, UEA, APC and SCALE to gather all relevant documents and data related to the Hill Approach
  • Review data collection methodology, including current research questions being tested, and all data collected to date. Data to be reviewed includes UEA’s four years of soil sampling data including water infiltration and retention, and two years of quarterly monitoring data on the update of agricultural techniques and progress made on the hills. It also includes three years of APC’s data on the number of conflicts, their types and the rates of resolution. Additional project data related to perceived resilience to environmental shocks and stresses, as defined in the FSP STRESS assessment, will also be reviewed and analyzed.
  • Lead the development of an impact report synthesizing the current findings for external audiences, including USAID, DRC government stakeholders, and other relevant partners in the DRC and Mercy Corps HQ. Support UEA, APC and FSP in the development of a visual summary of the findings, aimed at community stakeholders with limited literacy.
  • If required, provide guidance to UEA, APC and relevant FSP team members on any changes needed in design, processes or tools to enhance the data quality and research approach over the coming year.
  • Work with UEA, APC and FSP to establish a research implementation plan in accordance with the agriculture seasons in the DRC. Note – the main agricultural seasons are from September to January, and again from February to May, planting seasonal crops like maize and beans, and yearly crops like cassava
  • Identify additional impact studies or data collection that could be integrated into the current plans to bolster the evidence base.

Consultant Deliverables:

Proposed outputs of this consultancy will include:

  • Timeline and management plan for this consultancy
  • Revised research implementation plan (including data collection), incorporating any additional proposed studies or data indicators
  • Outline of any additional studies to be conducted
  • Co-authored report on data analysis and findings
  • Co-authored mostly visual report or other format of findings targeted specifically for community level stakeholders to aid them in understanding and using the findings to make informed decisions

Timeframe / Schedule: 

A maximum of 15 days in May-June, 2021. Consultant must confirm with the SCALE Program Director before spending more than this amount of time on the project.

The Consultant will report to: SCALE Program Director       

The Consultant will work closely with:

  • Chief of Party for FSP – Mercy Corps
  • FSP Agriculture team – Mercy Corps and World Vision
  • UEA and APC teams
  • SCALE team
  • Members of Mercy Corps’ Agriculture Technical Support Unit

Required Experience & Skills:

  • At least 6 years of work experience related to agriculture, preferably including knowledge of permaculture, agroecology and/or climate smart agriculture
  • Fluency in both written and spoken French and English
  • Strong research skills and background
  • Experience implementing impact assessments in similar contexts and in resilient agriculture technical areas
  • Demonstrated ability to lead high level report writing
  • Demonstrated ability to work with multinational stakeholders and networks

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.