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Call for consultants: Thematic evaluation of sector strengthening for sustainable services

Thematic Evaluation:
Sector strengthening for sustainable services
Terms of Reference

Context
WaterAid’s Global Strategy aims to contribute significantly to the achievement of universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) by 2030, aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, with a particular focus on reaching the poorest and most marginalised people. All our work is based on the human rights framework which outlines the obligations of states to provide water and sanitation for all. However, universal access is an ambitious goal which will require a step change in rates of progress in the sector. For WaterAid to help catalyse this step change, it requires a fundamental transformation in how we design, plan, implement, and monitor WASH programming, how we support the broader enabling environment for WASH interventions and how we work with communities. We need to reduce rates of WASH slippage, redundancy and dysfunctionality, address financing and capacity shortages at the national level and foster demand for WASH services among the marginalised people we work with. Our approach to sector strengthening for sustainable services therefore recognises the need for action at the community, local, national and global levels, and the importance of partnerships with communities (users and right-holders), government and utilities (service providers and duty-bearers) and other stakeholders.

As part of our work to change “business as usual” and to encourage action at the global level, WaterAid is committed to, and leading on, the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) ‘collaborative behaviours’ and to realising these through all its works and through a collaboration called the Agenda for Change 2030. This means adopting a system-wide approach to strengthening the WASH sector by addressing all the dimensions which make sustainable WASH possible, at all levels of decision making. We work with sector partners at the global level and with national partners in government, and beyond, to advocate for and provide support around the collaborative behaviours: effective country leadership, strong country systems, one mutual accountability and information platform, and sustainable WASH financing. WaterAid also recognises that a stronger sector will only effectively deliver sustainable services where there is consistent demand from communities for services, and when government is held to account to deliver on their commitments to everyone, including people who are poor and marginalised. The balance between strengthening the sector capacity and strengthening the ability of people to claim their rights to WASH depends on the context.

WaterAid has embedded our work on this theme through the ‘sustainable services’ aim of our Global Strategy. This is part of a strategic shift from service delivery to advocating for and catalysing large scale systemic change. All WaterAid country programmes strategies (CPSs) recognise that sector strengthening should be an integral part of their approach to achieving sustainable services and universal access, although the shift in terms of partnerships, funding and programme interventions is taking time and countries are at different levels. Similarly, at the global level, although donors increasingly recognise the importance of sector strengthening there is a lack of clarity, consensus and commitment around the theme and often a tendency to continue to prioritise funding for direct services outside of government processes. There is also a lack of consistency and understanding, both internally and externally, about what sector strengthening for sustainable services means in practice, the balance of focus between duty-bearers and right-holders, the most effective programme approaches and their suitability for different contexts.

Evaluation Purpose
The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the effectiveness WaterAid’s shift in work on sector strengthening for sustainable services. WaterAid has embarked on a process of developing an overall sector strengthening approach for both national and local levels of government. We have run a series of workshops across all regions as we have developed these approaches, tools, skills and knowledge and assisted our country programmes in designing programme, project and grants proposals to deliver these. The evaluation will consider how effective this process has been, how it is beginning to manifest itself in actual programming work and whether there have been any changes towards the stated objectives of stronger and more accountable duty-bearers, and empowered rights-holders (and whether this change can be measured). Where possible it will check the alignment between the high level guidance and actual work, how this has been contextualised, and whether tailored activities will be able to support the envisioned change. It will also assess what the main blockages and challenges are in bringing about this shift and make recommendations for overcoming these.

Approaches and methods
• Develop an evaluation framework to assess WaterAid’s work in sustainable services, including participatory methodologies for field work in-country, to understand how staff in country programmes understand this theme, and their programmatic work under the theme
• Design a framework which accounts for the challenges faced with long-term incremental systemic change and advocacy work
• Analyse WaterAid’s core documentation and guidance / workshop reports and grant proposal guidance under this theme, and its application at global, national and local level
• Analyse country level programme, project designs and approach papers related to the theme
• Conduct national and local level stakeholder interviews to assess the relevance of the conceptual model used by WaterAid to particular contexts
• Analyse the extent to which our approaches and conceptual understanding in country programmes, consciously matches or balances sector strengthening and empowerment approaches to strengthen community capacity to claim their rights to sustainable services and hold duty bearers to account.
• Assess whether partnerships are suited to strengthening the sector in a sustainable manner
• Assess the effectiveness of the embedding and change process we have undertaken and identify areas of weakness and recommend solutions
• Document the similarities and differences within WaterAid at different scales
• Identify good practice around approaches, innovation, and models in this area
• Identify specific learning, areas for improvement and specific recommendations to support effectiveness in WASH sector strengthening at the global and CP level.

Assessment should be based on three main areas of research:
• Desk based research. WaterAid have literature and research on the theme, and extensive documentation on strategic planning and performance, and consultants should make use of all reports, including performance, strategy and audit data. Consultants should also cover a review of relevant external data and analysis related to sustainable services, the Agenda for Change, Collaborative Behaviours and WASH sector strengthening.

• Interviews with key staff and external stakeholders. The literature review should be supplemented by interviews with key individuals and focus groups, including Skype/phone calls to other federation members and country programmes, with a particular emphasis on those working on the theme in-country

• Country visits. Detailed assessment will require visits to WaterAid programmes, and consultants should aim to visit at least three, ideally four countries. WaterAid will work with consultants to design the most effective programme visit for the thematic areas given. In country evaluation methodology must be participative.


Roles and Responsibilities:
The PMER Advisor within the WaterAid UK Programme Support Unit (PSU) will provide overall coordination of the project, with support from selected programme and policy thematic specialists and WaterAid International, for strategic insight, substantive support and federation perspective. A steering group will be established to provide oversight and signoff. The whole process will be collaborative, with WaterAid feeding into the design of the methodology and evaluation questions, the field work and the drafting of the report.

Time schedule:
We would expect to appoint consultants by December 2017, and the time frame to run from January to May 2018.

• Start-up meeting with Project Team December 2017
• Inception report: Initial Draft December 2017
• Inception workshop January 2018
• Initial research and interviews with Federation offices January 2018
• Inception report: Final 31st January 2018
• Country visits February/March 2018
• Online interviews with Country Programmes/Regional Offices March 2018
• Write ups and draft report March/April 2018
• Final report and executive summary 30th April 2018
• Closing workshop / webinar May 2018

Consultants should propose a more detailed timeframe and work plan based on the structure of the team and the nature of country visits planned.

Outputs:
The final outputs will include a summary report and full report, which must clearly present findings, conclusions, recommendations and lessons learned with a logical flow between different sections. All components of the report should be based on an informed and critical analysis of collected data and assembled evidence. Any limitations recognised by the evaluation team regarding any aspect of the evaluation process should also be recorded.

Recommendations on how WaterAid could improve both generally and specifically in relation to countries or areas of activity should be outlined as part of the conclusion. These should be as concrete as possible and should make clear where, in the consultants’ view, action needs to be taken. We will agree on headings and a draft table of contents with consultants early on in the project. Final results will be presented in a workshop / webinar. These findings will inform both WaterAid’s ongoing programmatic work and feed into other thematic evaluations.

Resources
The budget for this evaluation is approximately £35,000, not including reimbursable expenses, which shall be covered separately. We would expect the work to require around 12 weeks spread over five months, including a minimum of three weeks in the field. WaterAid will provide support on the literature review, logistics for interviews and organisation of field visits, and cover all field costs.

Evaluation team qualifications:
We would expect the consultant(s) to have both some knowledge of the WASH sector and a deep knowledge of the specific thematic focus of the evaluation, i.e. sector / systems strengthening for sustainable services, and the broader context. Ideally, the consultant(s) would also be familiar with WaterAid and our work.
Consultants should have the following characteristics:
• Ability to work as an interdisciplinary team with complementary skills
• Experience with participatory evaluations
• Demonstrated experience and knowledge of sector / systems strengthening approaches within any related development sector (e.g. health, education)
• Ability to engage with, listen to and learn form a broad range of evaluation stakeholders
• Knowledge and experience of various evaluation methods – mixed methods, qualitative and quantitative approaches such as interviews, focus groups, observation, surveys and others
• Commitment to protecting confidential information
• Insights on methodology design to ensure maximum uptake of recommendations

Expressions of interest:
Interested consultants are requested to submit their CVs and an expression of interest using the format indicated below, not exceeding five pages:
1. Brief understanding of the task
2. Summary of the approaches and methods proposed
3. Names, roles, responsibilities and key relevant experience of the team members
4. Overview of proposed budget and work plan

Due date: 26th November 2017 (at 23.59 pm)

Based on these submissions, the selected consultant(s) will be invited to an interview for final selection.

Organisation WaterAid

Country International