International Consultancy - Management review of UNICEF Country Offices in the middle income/upper-middle income countries in southern Africa, including the UNICEF Regional Office support hu

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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.



UNICEF ESAR has long considered UNICEF Offices in Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, South Africa and Comoros (internally referred to as “BNLES-C”) as part of a common typology. These countries are by no means a uniform group, yet some commonalities tie them together from UNICEF’s programmatic perspective. This group of countries and Country Offices:

  • sets itself apart by the size of country (inhabitants), size of the UNICEF budget and its status of being middle income countries (MICs) - some having recently graduated to lower MICs (Comoros, Lesotho, Eswatini); while others a solid UMICs status (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa);
  • shares development challenges such as high rates of HIV prevalence, childhood stunting/obesity, pervasive violence against women and children, stark inequalities including high levels of child poverty, and under-employment and unemployment among young people; and
  • faces restricted space for resource mobilization due to the limited donor presence, the phasing out of bilateral donors and the reduction of internally allocated UNICEF resources.

In these countries, the long-term presence and proven track record have made UNICEF a partner of choice for the respective governments and other stakeholders on child rights issues, giving UNICEF access to and leverage with the highest level government officials and a conduit to influence UNICEF agenda in the continent.

As documented in a series of dedicated reviews and past PBR (Programme Budget Review) decisions, ESAR has continued to seek an appropriate value proposition for UNICEF in these six countries, a differentiated business model and shared-resource efficiencies among the countries, including what today stands as the “Hub” based in Johannesburg (see discussion below p.3)

Rationale of the assignment

There are three broad rationales to the assignment:

First, the growing expectation of the BNLES-C governments for the UN to elaborate its value proposition in an MIC/UMIC context and the rapidly declining global development assistance have accentuated the urgency for the concerned COs to transition from service delivery focused programmes - no longer affordable nor strategic - to upstream technical support, leveraging and influencing. While the BNLES-C COs’ Country Programme Documents articulate UNICEF’s role as a normative agency delivering upstream programming and engaging civil society on child rights, the full shift has been challenging/ uneven. Almost a decade earlier, ESARO review in 2015 on ‘the programme and operations business model of UNICEF BNLSS’ had already summed up this challenge, which still resonates today. COs continue to struggle to balance upstream approach with down-stream demand: In contexts where children are subject to several disparities in the social sectors; and where governments’ demand persist to provide service-oriented interventions, such as for the COVID-19, immunization programming for zero dose communities and other emergency responses. These circumstances keep stalling the COs from moving towards norm-setting, technical assistance and upstream leveraging. While UNICEF program guidance for MIC/UMIC COs are clear (e.g., partnerships for leveraging, leverage of domestic resources, work on SBC with partners, increased private sector funding), COs still require more nuanced and operational support to define upstream and/or balancing the upstream efforts within the different strategies.

Second, having type-cast BNLES-C countries for their commonalities as mentioned above, ESARO is yet to establish a region-specific reference of an optimal typology of management/staffing structure befitting its MIC/UMIC Country Offices which could help advise or benchmark affordable and lighter fixed-term office structures that the ESAR PBR continues to look for in these COs. Given rapidly dwindling resources available to UNICEF in this context, COs need to have a management/staffing structure that is expandable with temporary and alternative modes of capacity when needed, while having a standard/principled regional approach on how shared resources and services should be made available.

Third, across two decades, the RO has had technical resources established in Johannesburg, South Africa, including the BNLES “Hub”. The ESAR Office in Johannesburg has seen many reiterations. Selected outposted RO staff were posted in the “Hub” in Johannesburg for various reasons to support BNLES COs, though primarily for operations related oversight support. Over the years other types of outposted staff were situated in Johannesburg, evolving to a set of disparate purposes and functions, as well as geographic coverage (see table below). A coherent and sustained conversation on the future of the RO presence in South Africa and an optimal approach to shared resources dedicated for BLSNE-C and its configuration remains an ongoing conversation. The widely differing perceptions on the rationale/functions/utility of the ESARO outpost, including the “hub” have contributed to stagnating decisions on it.


  • Of late, the global efficiency and effectiveness initiatives, in particular the robust UNICEF GSSC (Global Shared Services Center) role, give additional context to the earlier rationale of the “Operations Hub” (HR, Operations, Procurement, Security).
  • Concept of shared technical resource is fast evolving in ESAR, including the recent discussion in the regional PBR (Programme Budget Review) meeting to consider Madagascar as a port of operations/technical support for small island country of Comoros, as well as potential to explore some consolidated back-office support and further transactional functions within the South Africa Country Office to enhance efficiency.
  • Shared technical resource can also include the potential of South Africa sharing learnings as a model and front-runner of successfully making the fit-for-purpose presence in the UMIC context in the region.
  • UNICEF 2024 global Business Model Review highlights the need to leverage geographically dispersed network of technical caliber to support Country Offices, such as through the GTT (Global Technical Teams) approach and the Regional Offices.

Objective of the assignment

Undertake a management review of UNICEF Country Offices in the middle income and upper-middle income countries in southern Africa, namely Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Comoros, vis-à-vis the existing and potential shared technical resources in UNICEF ESARO, including the Johannesburg outposted colleagues, the Country Offices of South Africa and Madagascar, and UNICEF headquarters, with a view to the evolving global discourse on the UNICEF Business Model.

Scope of Work and Key Responsibilities

The management review will have three interconnected components with specific scopes and responsibilities.

1. Establish an analytical aid to support COs/ESARO to navigate commonly faced challenges in transitioning to the programming in MIC/UMIC

[Note: Programmatic review of the BNLE-C country programmes is not within the scope of the assignment. Programmatic reviews are conducted as part of COs’ respective strategic planning milestones. The consultant will desk review each of the country programmes involved in this exercise to ensure he/she acquires clear understanding of the programmes’ results, strategies, enablers as a basis of undertaking analytical processes of the assignment.]

  • Building on the observations of ESARO review in 2016 on ‘the programme and operations business model of UNICEF BNLSS Programme’ and in-depth consultations with COs, ESARO and PG/HQ, identify commonly faced barriers to fully transitioning to fit-for-purpose programming in MIC/UMIC context, where resources are limited.
  • Conduct desk review of global learning from other regions (UNICEF LACR, ECAR and EAPR), other UN Agencies in the BNLES-C and the global guidance on UNICEF programming in Middle-Income Country contexts to distil experiences that can be applied in ESAR, taking into account the global Business Model Review.
  • Provide a succinct CPD/CPMP ‘aid’ for ESARO/COs, compiling the common challenges and solutions in MIC/UMIC programming shifts, as well as a set of criteria to enhance related reviews during strategic planning milestones.

2. Conduct a review of the management/staffing structure in Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Comoros to identify a reference structure that is fit-for-purpose in the MIC and UMIC context of southern Africa, in line with the Governments priorities & development plans and the UNSDCF, and taking into account the differentiated contexts between the MICs and UMICs.

  • Apply a structured review methodology on how the resources are matched to the needs of the COs (staff identification and mobilization of funds) with a view to improving efficiency and effectiveness of the resource allocation and impact of the country programmes.
  • Identify the degree to which the operational and technical capacity is supplemented from the “Hub” and outposted RO colleagues for each of the concerned COs.
  • Provide a comparative analysis of staffing structures among BNLE-C COs, and against reference COs in other regions and other UN agencies in BNLE-C.
  • Analyse generic skills and competency gaps in BNLE-C COs required of upstream programming in MIC/UMIC contexts in southern Africa, based on discussions with COs’ management and staff.
  • Provide a compendium of resources for ESARO PBR/COs including the optimal reference staffing structure for MIC/UMIC in southern Africa and skill and competency requirements, with a view to supporting CPMP and PBR process in ESAR, whilst acknowledging the unique programming context of each country.
  1. Establish evidence and scenario-based recommendations to facilitate decision-making on an optimal approach for shared resources set-up for effective/efficient programmes and operations for BNLE-C COs, other COs in southern Africa and for the region.
  • Conduct a desk review of past documentation to capture the evolution of the RO presence in Johannesburg. [The assignment should not include re-examination or re-inquiry into the past decisions that have been made]
  • Conduct cost benefit analysis of shared support services and its impact on efficiencies and effectiveness of programme delivery (An analysis of the current business model and the recommended business model).
  • Undertake consultations with all the BNLE-C COs/ESARO/Madagascar CO / South Africa CO and strategic partners to arrive at an updated rationale/configuration for a ‘shared-resources approach’ for BNLE-C COs, other southern Africa COs and the region, along the following inquiry:
    • Shared operations resources [currently composed of Operations, HR, Security, Staff counselling, Procurement]:

Given UNICEF’s evolved corporate effectiveness and efficiency undertaking in the past several years, operating context in the region/sub-region, and the evidence of value offering from the RO presence in Johannesburg, is there relevant and strong rationale to maintain RO’s shared operations-related resources in Johannesburg?

      • Can Nairobi-based operations support provide more intentional and comparable value-offering for the operations functions in the BNLE-C?
    • Can some of the operations functions be consolidated within the South Africa Country Office, and possibly in any of BNLE-C COs?
    • Shared programme resources [Currently composed only of HIV and Evaluation]:
    • Is there a coherent/comprehensive ESARO-wide conceptualization and strategy that the current shared resources deployment follows?
    • What should frame the future conceptualization and strategy to support BNLE-C COs and other COs in southern Africa to optimize their programming (inclusive of programming excellence hub function that can also be found in other COs) to stay fit for future purpose
    • What optimal programming/technical resource support for BNLE-C COs can we identify from South Africa and Madagascar COs, as well as from the Global Technical Team approach to complement ESARO current TA function?
    • Shared strategic partnership resources [Currently, Africa Services Unit for Communication]
    • To what degree is ESARO’s deployments in Johannesburg maximizing the leveraging opportunities besides media outlets, such as regional and sub-regional partnerships and diplomatic channels in South Africa?
    • How can we better capitalize on the South Africa Country Office and Botswana CO senior management and other CO Representatives to fulfill representational roles in inter-governmental initiatives, meetings, relations, such as AU NEPAD, SADC?
    • Management of shared resources
    • What has been the experience of establishing leadership, management and accountabilities among the Johannesburg-based shared resources?
    • What measures are recommended to strengthen the management of shared resources, under the new proposal/configuration?
  • Prepare a set of decision-support options and recommendations on the optimal configuration of the shared resources approach for ESAR.

The senior consultants will act as advisors to the steering committee of UNICEF ESARO, presenting the outputs of the assignment along with potential risks and mitigation strategies.

Management of Contract

Under the guidance of the ESA Regional Director, the team of consultants will directly report to one Deputy Regional Director, with the matrix line to the other DRD, ESARO. The dedicated DRD will lead a regional steering group composed of (i) senior management of ESARO; (ii) one Country Representative representing the group of BLNE-C, Madagascar and South Africa COs; and (iii) one Country Representative to represent other countries’ perspective. The steering group’s deliberations will be shared with the wider ESARO management team.

The steering group will establish a reference group with greater participation among senior managers and staff of concerned countries, including the staff association, to seek substantive comments and maintain transparency.

Payment Schedule

Payment will be made upon successful completion of each deliverable, as per the schedule agreed to at the signing of the contract, and after certification by UNICEF. No advance payment is allowed unless in exceptional circumstances against bank guarantee, subject to a maximum of 30 per cent of the total contract value in cases where advance purchases may be necessary. UNICEF reserves the right to withhold all or a portion of payment if performance is unsatisfactory, if outputs are incomplete, and or not delivered on time.

Key Skills, Technical Background and Experience Required

UNICEF is looking for a experiences team of consultants (either contracting as individuals or an internationally recognized institution with the capacity to undertake quality work within a short space of time. The institution/individuals should have proven knowledge, expertise and experience in the area of programme reviews, mid-term reviews, country programme development as well as organizational change with UN agencies, preferably including UNICEF. Interested companies should meet the following minimum qualification criteria:

If Institution:

  • Officially registered legal entity.
  • At least 7 years proven relevant experience in conducting management and programme reviews, mid-term reviews, country programme development and supporting organizational change processes.
  • The company should share at least 3 samples of previous work done.

Team composition:

The proposed team should comprise of at least two professionals, including a team leader who should be experienced in organizational change management. The team members’ qualifications should meet the following criteria:

Team lead:

  • Advanced university degree in business administration or related field.
  • At least 10 years in supporting organizational change processes, organizational design, skill mapping and workforce planning, including within the UN. Relevant experience within UNICEF will be considered an asset.
  • Previous work experience at a senior level with UNICEF is strongly preferred; experience with another UN Agency is an asset.
  • Excellent communication skills – both written and verbal.
  • Excellent active listening skills.
  • Problem-solving and root cause identification skills.
  • Strong analytic and decision-making abilities.
  • Must be a team player and able to work with and through others.

Second team member – programme review expert:

  • Advanced university degree in Social Science, Sociology, Development Studies or related field.
  • At least 8 years of experience in leading strategic planning processes, including demonstrated experience in leading UNICEF CPD development processes, strategic prioritization, ToC development.
  • Strong understanding of results based management.
  • Familiarity with UNICEF mandate, programming principles, planning tools, approaches, and guidelines.
  • Excellent communication, facilitation and writing skills

Terms and Conditions

  • UNICEF will not provide laptops or desk top computers. The consultant/institution will provide own laptops.
  • The consultants will work from their own office.
  • As per UNICEF DFAM policy, payment is made against approved deliverables. No advance payment is allowed unless in exceptional circumstances against bank guarantee, subject to a maximum of 30% of the total contract value in cases where advance purchases, for example for supplies or travel, may be necessary.

The team/firm selected will be governed by and subject to UNICEF’s General Terms and Conditions for institutional contracts or individual contracts, depending on the contracting modality.


A critical risk to the success of this assignment is potential hesitancy by UNICEF staff to engage with the process constructively and resistance to the change that will be proposed. To mitigate this risk, it is therefore essential to design an inclusive and consultative process throughout the entire exercise. A further risk lies in the time-sensitivity of the assignment and in timelines not being met due to the need for extended consultations. This risk will need to be mitigated through a detailed work plan and timelines and by adhering closely to those plans.

Technical Evaluation Criteria and Relative Points

The bidding institutions / individuals will be assessed based on agreed criteria. The applicants will firstly be evaluated on their technical capacity by a team of UNICEF staff. After this, a financial evaluation will be conducted. The ratio between technical and financial offer weight will be 70/30 and only applicants who will receive a minimum of 55 points under a technical evaluation will be considered technically compliant and assessed on price proposal. Technical proposals must be separate from financial offers.

The Technical Proposal should include but not be limited to the following:

Methodology: Detailed Methodology / approach to requirements detailing how to meet or exceed UNICEF requirements for this assignment and how the process will be inclusive and consultative.

Company Profile: Ensure to include information related to the experience of the company as required.

References: Details of similar assignments undertaken in last three years including the following information:

  • Title of Project
  • Year and duration of project
  • Scope of Project
  • Outcome of Project
  • Reference / Contact persons

Work Plan: Proposed work plan showing detailed sequence and timeline for each activity and man days of each proposed team member

Team Composition: Title and role of each team member

CVs: CV of each team member (including qualifications and experience)

How to Apply

Institutional and individual proposals should be sent to: BTW_[email protected]

Any enquiries regarding this advert should be sent to the above emails.

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