Malawi has been hit with consecutive and successive climatic shocks over the last few years. With a low capacity to cope, and little time to recover, the country has witnessed escalating food and nutrition insecurity. In this context, humanitarian food response, most commonly referred to as ‘MVAC’ , has increased considerably, reaching 6.7 million people across 24 of the 28 districts between July 2016 and March 2017. This was the largest and longest response in the country’s history. In 2017, 1,043,000 people in 20 districts have been identified as phase 3 food insecure.
With pre-existing high and chronic levels of food and income insecurity, any shock further negatively impacts the most vulnerable populations. Poor people are among the groups most exposed to and suffering the most from shocks, including drought or floods: Limited livelihood options, resources, and access to services, mean that these households are the least able to withstand shocks. Major negative events, particularly rainfall and loss of off-farm employment, contribute to the poor households remaining in their status, and also increase the likelihood of non-poor households falling into poverty.
Social Protection Programmes are currently unable to predictably meet chronic needs and systems are not prepared to effectively expand or facilitate humanitarian interventions in times of crisis. To date, important investments have been made in the social protection sector, but coverage has remained limited, and the system has suffered from insufficient integration in programme design and consistency of programmes’ objectives.
Humanitarian action has in practice been filling the gap by responding to chronic needs which ought to be addressed by social protection systems. In turn, the social protection system hasn’t been leveraged to implement a more cost effective humanitarian response thereby leading to a suboptimal response, drawing on humanitarian budgets, technical expertise, and stretching the positioning of humanitarian actors as non-government stakeholders. The underlying vulnerabilities of Malawi, including chronic levels of food insecurity and high exposure to climate risks, “are an important factor in producing recurrent humanitarian emergencies”. As such, predictable seasonal patterns, and even minor weather variations currently result in humanitarian crisis.
To tackle this issue, efforts have been made by the Government of Malawi, in line with global commitments , to expand the current coverage of the social protection system and better align humanitarian action and social protection. Through the MNSSP II, the government has made a strong commitment to design and implement a social protection system that: covers more people, provides complementary support to respond to the multiple and compounding needs of the population, and that is sensitive to shocks, i.e. that contributes to mitigate, respond to and recover from shocks, in collaboration with the humanitarian sector.
The covid-19 pandemic and the Government response to its socio-economic effects on urban poor, puts additional pressure on the social protection system. The Government has designed an urban cash response, and is furthermore addressing increased rural needs through a vertical expansion of the SCTP. Already limited capacities within the leading social protection ministries are further stretched.
Using the social protection system to address emergencies is in line with global and national commitments made towards shock-responsive social safety nets. The Government of Malawi in its National Social Support Programme (MNSSP II) has committed to design and implement a social protection system that: covers more people, provides complementary support to respond to the multiple and compounding needs of the population, and that is sensitive to shocks, i.e. that contributes to mitigate, respond to and recover from shocks, in collaboration with the humanitarian sector. Shock-sensitive social protection is a topic that has attracted a lot of interest from different actors, within and external to Government, including from Development Partners, Donors, NGOs and Government Ministries. This large number of actors creates a vibrant environment for SSSP discussions, related research and piloting. Since 2015|16 more and more initiatives in this area take place each year.
Different actors have brought in, and partially operationalized, different approaches towards SSSP, including in response to covid-19, that fail to follow a joint vision in Malawi, despite broad guidance in MNSSP II. The flipside of this diverse SSSP environment is that there is a wealth of different approaches, objectives, agendas and mandates being brought to SSSP in Malawi, creating a rich environment of expertise. However, the lack of a shared vision and fragmentation among partners is becoming increasingly palpable as more and more initiatives are being undertaken.
UNICEF’s focus on SSSP has significantly grown since 2015 and requires increased technical and operational attention. UNICEF MCO’s support to the Government in the area of SSSP is focused on five key areas, i.e. (i) evidence and analysis, (ii) policy, strategy, legislation, coordination and financing, (iii) programme design features, (iv) administration and delivery systems, and (v) preparing and using the national social protection system to implement humanitarian cash transfers
In a context where the social protection response to covid-19, but also broader moving policy pieces, e.g. the upcoming old age pension are changing the face of social protection in Malawi, SSSP in 2020 is at a crossroad. Multiple actors are increasingly leveraging the SSSP policy trend and operational successes in the area of SSSP made. UNICEF has committed to coherently advance key pieces of a shock-sensitive social protection system, that contribute to strengthening and cementing the leadership of the Government in the area. A stronger focus on horizontal expansion functionalities of the SCTP, monitoring capacities of regular and shock-responsive social protection, funding flows to support SSSP and better underlying systems (e.g. an updated Unified Beneficiary Registry) are among the priorities for UNICEF and the Government of Malawi and will be tackled in 2020 / 2021.
PURPOSE OF THE ASSIGNMENT
The purpose of the assignment is threefold:
- to support UNICEF MCO in rendering technical assistance to the government in their pursue of an adaptive, shock-sensitive social protection system as per MNSSP II;
- to support the UNICEF Malawi Country Office in advancing UNICEF specific inputs to a Country vision on shock-sensitive social protection;
- to support joint UN positioning on SSSP;
The individual contractor assignment is time-based, and carried out full-time over a period of 11.5 months.
How can you make a difference?
To make a difference the national individual contractor will:
- Support operational research related to the improvement of the protection and preventive functions of the Social Cash Transfer Programme (SCTP) and the piloting of horizontal expansion capacities;
- In close collaboration with line ministries, develop and implement a roll-out strategy for information related to linkages between Social Protection and humanitarian action to local government structures.
- Develop and support the implementation of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework, for linkages that contributes (i) to provide real-time information and feedback loops to immediately enhance programme effectiveness; (ii) to deliver periodic objective monitoring data for ongoing learning and adaptive management of the programme, and (iii) to understand programme impacts and effectiveness to provide lessons for future emergency;
- Identifying entry points, support the conceptualization and operationalization of remote monitoring mechanisms (phone-based) for regular social protection and shock-responsive functions of the SCTP;
- Work within UNICEF to better prepare the organization to systematically consider the use of cash based transfers in future emergencies, in ways that build on and form the basis for sustainable social protection systems;
- Support the conceptualization and development of SSSP communication material, for both an internal and external audience;
- Provide technical and capacity building support to the Poverty Reduction and Social Protection Division in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, MoGCDSW and District Councils to monitor the implementation of linkages with social protection in the response;
- Conduct regular field visits to all affected districts to monitor the implementation of linkages between social protection and the humanitarian response and identify and support resolution of challenges and constraints that may arise especially at district and community levels;
- Prepare programme reports and briefing notes to keep the Social Policy section and Country Management Team and Emergency Team informed and updated on programme status and progresses;
- Ensure timely submission of progress and results for inputting into Country Office Situation Reports and for planning, management, monitoring and evaluation purposes as needed;
- As and when delegated by the Social Protection Specialist, represent UNICEF in meetings and technical discussions on social protection and the humanitarian response.
To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…
- An advanced university degree or equivalent in social sciences or other relevant discipline(s)
- At least 4 years of relevant experience and proven expertise in the area of social protection and/or humanitarian cash-based assistance;
- Proven work experience with the Government of Malawi on issues related to social protection and/or humanitarian issues (Ministry of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms, Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare, Department of Disaster Management Affairs);
- Previous experience in working with the Malawi Social Cash Transfer Programme is an asset;
- Proven knowledge in the area of shock-sensitive social protection is a strong asset;
- Proven knowledge in the area of humanitarian cash transfers is an asset;
- Previous experience in working with UNICEF or other like organizations is an asset;
- Experience in working with teams and team processes;
- Excellent writing skills, analytical skills as well as good computer skills;
- Strong communication skills, including with and across diverse teams;
- Strong knowledge of UNICEF’s programming principles, including on gender equality and RBM.
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.
The functional competencies required for this post are:
- Formulating strategies and concepts (II)
- Analyzing (III)
- Applying technical expertise (III)
- Leading and supervising (II)
View our competency framework at
Further details of this assignment, find attached the Terms of Reference (ToR)
Use the attached template to submit your financial proposal
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.