Consultancy: Social Protection Consultant for Kurdistan Region - Iraq (National)

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Application deadline 1 year ago: Tuesday 10 Aug 2021 at 20:55 UTC

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Background of the consultancy

Iraq has been affected by the COVID 19 crisis as any other country and witnessed job losses and rising prices eroding households’ ability to meet their basic needs and undermining their resilience. A recent study1 conducted jointly by Ministry of Planning of Iraq, UNICEF and World Bank, estimated that 4.5 million (11.7%) Iraqis has been pushed below the national poverty line as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated socio-economic impact, in addition to 6,9 million poor prior to the crisis. As a result, Iraq’s national poverty rate is expected to reach to 31.7% in 2020, compared to 20% in 2018. Furthermore, the crisis continues to exacerbate existing vulnerabilities with 42% of the Iraqi population are considered deprived in more than one dimensions of well-being including deprivation in education, health, living conditions, and financial security.

The current crisis calls on partners to consolidate their efforts in supporting the Government of Iraq to transition towards a multi-layered, government-led system based on core social assistance programs in the country. Such a system should include a cash transfer programme for basic needs, complemented by additional programmes providing supplementary benefits to different groups with aim to improve social protection for the poor and vulnerable, IDPs/returnees and households affected by shocks, by integrating and coordinating social assistance programs run by government and humanitarian actors. UNICEF advocates to focus the reform on children with cash transfer programme tailored to needs of pregnant women, under-5 children, and school-age children with close integration with basic health and education services required for children to survive and fulfil their full potential.

UNICEF has been providing technical support to ongoing reform with focus on Social protection network, specifically Social safety net (SSN) programs at federal level and in Kurdistan region of Iraq. As part of establishing child focused social protection systems and delivery mechanisms UNICEF provides technical support to MoLSA at federal and regional level to improve SSN administrative databases and program MISs with a view to establish a single registry, simplify administrative procedures, and upgrade of the SSN MIS at central and governorate level to enable delivery of integrated social protection and social services scheme (registration, case management and referrals, monitoring of payments and referral outcomes, grievance and redress etc.) While program design, level of development and operational functions of delivery mechanisms differ between Iraq federal and KRI level, both systems lack effective targeting and interoperability. UNICEF jointly with other development partners supporting social protection sector aims go contribute to building integration points for the single registry, and establishment of interoperable platform that enables effective coordination of social protection targeting, administration, delivery and monitoring and evaluation between relevant government entities.

In Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the Social Protection Network adopts categorical selection of beneficiaries which had led to high leakages to non-poor. Payments through the scheme were largely stopped since 2015 due to fiscal constraints with exception of payments to PwD. In addition, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs suffered weak service delivery capacity and poor systems to manage programme implementation. In 2016, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) developed a Social Protection Strategic Framework. And since 2018, UNICEF has collaborated with UNDP to review the framework and support the regional government to operationalize it. The plan of action includes the introduction of cash transfers targeting pregnant women, under-5 children, and school-age children with integration with health and education services. UNICEF continues to advocate and aims to expand its technical support to strengthening the system, introduction of effective poverty targeting and reduce exclusion and to put forward a scalable model benefiting pregnant women, under-5 children, and school age children.

In April 2020, as part of implementation of the KRG Social Protection Strategic Framework (SPSF) MoLSA submitted to KRG Council of Minister a Policy and technical guidelines for a regulatory framework on Poverty-based Social Safety Nets in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The regulatory framework aims to provide initial framework to developing “Social Safety Nets (SSN) for poor families, so they can receive financial support to maintain acceptable levels of consumption and social support to strengthen their human capital”. The regulatory framework outlines the following implementation workflow for the KRG poverty-targeted cash transfer program to inform, identify, and reach the program beneficiaries with cash transfers and services.

During the first phase, the population is informed about the KRG targeted cash transfer program (step 1, outreach to potential beneficiaries), applications are gathered from potential beneficiaries and are pre-screened for eligibility (step 2, enrollment and pre-screening of applicants). During the second phase, applicants who passed the pre-screening are administered PMT interviews, which results generate a list of eligible beneficiaries for cash transfers (step 3, targeting and screening of applicants). The amount of transfers each beneficiary is entitled to receive is automatically calculated based on household size and demographics (step 4, determination of benefits). From then onward, beneficiaries receive monthly transfers (step 5, payment mechanisms), as well as complementary social services (step 6, case management). Their eligibility is regularly reassessed, while a continuing enrollment enables newly eligible households to apply to the cash transfer program passed the initial campaign (step 7, recertification and program exit).

The proposed regulatory framework highlights a need to set up systems to support the

operation of the targeted cash transfer program, and to coordinate the delivery of complementary services by MOLSA, MOE and MOH. While these do not exist yet in KRG, UN agencies (WFP, UNHCR, UNICEF) have developed related tools for the cash transfer projects they run in KRI and other parts of Iraq. It is proposed that the pilot phase of the cash transfer program in KRI be used to learn from and adapt these tools to set the bases to ultimately develop (i) an identification system that will uniquely distinguish each beneficiary of social services, (ii) an integrated beneficiary registry where records of beneficiaries are stored and accessible by MOLSA, DOLSA, MOH and MOE, as well as a linked management information system so service providers can follow up on individual cases, and (iii) systems of quality assurance and control, of monitoring, evaluation and learning, and of grievance redress.

In 2020 UNICEF jointly with Duhok Department of Labour and Social Affairs (DoLSA) began a project that aims to enhance capacity of the Social Safety Network (SSN) Management Information System infrastructure, and improve links to case management system to address gaps in human capital for the beneficiaries of the SSN through improved case management and referral mechanism. Specifically, the project objectives are: a) The SSN MIS has a capacity to register additional beneficiaries, b) established referral mechanism between SSN and other departments within DOLSA as well as with other relevant directorates such Department of Health, and Department of Education, c) integration of the system through the web-based system to avoid duplication in registration, particularly between districts.

It is planned that experiences of Dohuk DoLSA will be replicated in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah governoraes. By the end 2021, UNICEF will be supporting MoLSA and DoLSA Dohuk to set up a model program MIS for SSN, to pilot and document the pilot in Dohuk districts, and to scale up a documented model across KRI. The pilot model aims to establish a foundation for poverty targeted SSN program operations and functions and explore solutions for interoperability of MIS SSN with other government databases and registries, including PDS.

In 2021 UNICEF partnered with EU, WFP and ILO to support the Government of Iraq to catalyse more effective social protection response in the short-term and to support Iraq to accelerate reform in the medium and longer-term to build a coherent and sustainable social protection system within “Social Protection: Leveraging Effective Response & Accelerating Reform” programme. This programme will contribute to social protection reform in Iraq by adapting, expanding and innovating social protection responses to address immediate needs of households in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as effectively reduce the negative implications of the crisis in the short and long-term on human development. The reform aims to improve the public policy environment for sustainable and inclusive expansion of social protection, and to reinforce capacities of federal and regional authorities to deliver quality child, age and disability sensitive, and gender responsive social protection programs and services.

Against this background, Social Inclusion and Policy (SIP) section is planning to recruit a national consultant to provide technical support to MoLSA KRI during implementation of Social Protection component of the EU Joint Programme 2021-2024 “Social Protection: Leveraging Effective Response & Accelerating Reform”. The position will facilitate strategic engagement with MoLSA at national and sub-national level, and provide effective program coordination and implementation support to technical cooperation with national stakeholders in line with overall objective of the programme which is to ensure that by 2024, the vulnerable and the poor, including children, youth, women, elderly, PwD and IDPs in Iraq benefit from equitable access to integrated social protection system that is inclusive, child and age sensitive.

Objective of the consultancy:

Purpose of this consultancy is to contribute to UNICEF technical support to MoLSA on current reforms of social protection system, design and implementation of integrated child focused cash transfer, improved information management systems, and case management and referrals systems.

The consultancy will contribute to realization of SIP CPD Outcome in SIP: “By 2024, children and adolescents, especially the most vulnerable, have improved access to equitable, integrated and adequately financed basic services and social protection, and contribute to a cohesive, peaceful and resilient Iraqi society”. More specifically, the consultancy position will be a part of technical team responsible for implementation of Output 2 “By 2024, Social protection system is evidence informed and with enhanced capacity to address the priorities of most vulnerable children”.

At Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the consultant will engage and work closely with the Departments of Labour and Social Affairs, Department of Statistics, Planning Department, and Deputy Governor and Governor office. Additionally, the consultant will facilitate coordination with Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs for activities conducted at local level.

Specific Tasks of the consultancy:

More specifically, the national SP consultant will support implementation of the following program components

  • Support data collection and the roll-out of the review of social protection system at regional level, including mapping of social protection schemes and assessment of social protection delivery system to inform social protection reform.
  • Support scale up of SSN management information system in KRI.
  • Support evidence generation to inform the reform of social safety net programs, social service workforce and development of vision for single registry
  • Support capacity building with MoLSA and DoLSA.
  • Support pilot implementation of cash transfer targeting pregnant women and children with linkages to education and health services.

Duration of the contract: The duration of the contract is 11,5 months with possibility of extension. Expected start date is August 2021.

Schedule of deliverables:

Description of Deliverables

Target Delivery Date

Support establishment of Social Safety Net in KRI, and provide technical expertise to review poverty based targeting guidelines/instruction.

Deliverable: activity implementation report.

Collect data and normative documents on SSN implementation, and case management protocols in KRI

Deliverable: repository of documents and data

Support the reform of social protection management information system and training of government to adopt new system.

Deliverable: MIS scale up implementation plan, training report, review of infrastructure requirements for MIS scale up.

30 September 2021

Support establishment of social protection coordination mechanisms at regional and local level to link social protection and basic services.

Deliverable: TORs developed; minutes of meetings

Data collection and consultation to feed into the implementation of budget review for social protection.

Deliverable: analysis report and data on budget and public spending on social protection at regional and local level.

30 November 2021

Support data collection and consultations with MoLSA, MoP, and other government partners in KRI to feed into the review of social protection system, including mapping of social protection schemes.

Deliverable: activity implementation report; data report.

Support assessment of SSN management information systems and development of vision for social protection single registry, including coordination with DoLSAs and other social sectors

Deliverable: report on stakeholder analysis;

30 January 2022

Support data collection for assessment of social service workforce in KRI

Deliverable: functional review report on social workers employed by MoLSA

Take part and support the roll-out of capacity building activities to implementing partners.

Deliverables: training delivered.

30 March 2022

Support the design and implementation of cash transfer targeting pregnant women and children with linkages to education and health services.

Deliverable: progress report

Support drafting and finalization of the KRI Social Protection Strategy

Deliverable: Implementation report

30 May 2022

Take part in advocacy and provide technical assistance to ensure child sensitive and pro-poor planning and budgeting processes at governorate level.

Deliverable: set of advocacy events conducted and development of analysis on social protection and situation of children.

15 July 2022

Working Conditions

a) Consultant will be based with Social Policy Unit in UNICEF Erbil and is expected to spend on average 4 days a week in MoLSA KRI premises working directly with national counterparts.

b) Logistic Requirements: Consultant will be provided with UNICEF email account and laptop for duration of his/her consultancy duties. As such, consultant will take responsibility to comply with UNICEF ICT rules and regulations.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

The consultant is expected to meet the following requirements in terms of qualifications and experience:

Minimim Qualifications Required

  • Bachelor’s Degree in public administration, international development, social and political sciences or related field. Solid hand-on experience and proven professional record could be accepted in lieu of academic background
  • Over 5 years of work experience with national and local governments in project support/ technical assistance projects in the area of social services and social protection, child/ human rights, social work
  • Solid knowledge of social development and social protection agenda in Iraq and Kurdistan region; understanding of international standards
  • Previous working experience with government, NGOs, UN agencies or other international agencies would be an asset.
  • Good analytical, drafting and synthesis skills; ability to communicate with different audiences, excellent presentation skills. Good organizational skills, attention to detail, and ability to contribute to teamwork.
  • Fluency in English, Kurdish and Arabic (written and spoken).
  • Ability to work in an international and multi-cultural environment.
  • Ability to work independently and respond to feedback in a timely and professional manner.
  • Good knowledge of computer applications.

Contractual Terms and Conditions:

Candidates should submit a financial proposal for the assignment, outlining all-inclusive fees per deliverable (based on the number of days worked and daily rate charged).

Travel expenses to the duty station and within the country, if required, will be paid in accordance with UNICEF polices/rules and regulations for individual consultancy assignment.

Under consultancy agreements, a month is defined as 21.75 working days, and fees are prorated accordingly for actual days worked.

The consultant is not entitled to payment for overtime, weekends or public holidays, medical insurance, taxes, and any form of leave.

The Consultant must not publish or disseminate reports, data collection tools, collected data or any other documents produced from this consultancy without the permission of and acknowledgment of UNICEF Iraq.

The selected candidate will be governed by and subject to UNICEF’s General Terms and Conditions for individual contracts.

Please indicate your ability, availability and daily/monthly rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above.

Applications submitted without a daily/monthly rate will not be considered.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organization.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF's values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

Click here to learn more about UNICEF’s values and competencies.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

* kindly note that the title of the consultancy was amended on 2 August 2021.

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