Consultant – Youth-Led Action Research and Response at Mercy Corps

Consultant – Youth-Led Action Research and Response at Mercy Corps – TDPel Jobs

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Project Location(s):                    

Consultant – Youth-Led Action Research and Response

Benue, Kogi, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano and Katsina

Mercy Corps is a global Humanitarian and Development agency, working on the front lines of today’s biggest crises to create a future of possibility, where everyone can prosper. Mercy Corps’ mission is to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. In more than 40 countries around the world, we partner with local governments, CSOs, forward-thinking corporations, social entrepreneurs and people living in fragile communities to develop bold solutions that make lasting change possible.

Conflicts in Nigeria have in the past few years become extremely complex. Their complexity is not just in the manner in which they manifest with devastating effects but also the interconnected nature of their root causes and drivers make responding to them ever more challenging. The confluence of multiple drivers ranging from resource scarcity, perceived social/cultural exclusion, economic dislocations due to climate change impact and violent extremism risks, calls for integrated and collaborative responses. These have been further compounded by the COVID19 pandemic whose secondary effects will mostly likely aggravate root causes of conflicts. 

Engaging youth in action research is aimed at promoting the inclusion of youth in conflict resolution as well as sharing youth perspectives on conflict. A key feature of Youth-Led Action Research is its focus on generating knowledge that is useful to the people who are researched. Its uniqueness might be that the “action” in youth led action research is not only aimed at the research population but also at the researchers themselves.

Program Description

The Community Initiatives Initiates to Promote Peace (CPP) program is a five-year Cooperative Agreement awarded to Mercy Corps by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The program has two overall objectives, which are to: ((1) empower communities to prevent and respond to violence and violent extremism by strengthening key skills and relationships, and (2) foster an enabling environment for peace through policy advocacy, media outreach, and linkages to development programs.  Led by Mercy Corps, CIPP is implemented in partnership with Pastoral Resolve (PARE), Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC), Savannah Centre for Diplomacy Democracy and Development (SCDDD) and African Radio Drama Association (ARDA). CIPP builds on the accomplishments of TOLERANCE, Building Bridges, and Engaging Communities for Peace in Nigeria (ECPN) implemented by Mercy Corps, PARE and IMC. However, CIPP’s approach is distinguished from its predecessor projects in key ways that reflect the evolving nature of violence in the target areas, including: explicit interventions to prevent violent extremism, a more intentional approach to engaging women, stronger linkages to government and business, focused attention to fostering an enabling environment for peace through policy change and media, and ability to flexibly and rapidly shift geographical focus as new pockets of violence emerge.

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Background and Consultancy description:

In the six focal states, Mercy Corps will facilitate a youth-led action research on the spread of violent extremism, its drivers, and factors that prevent and motivate participation in violent extremism, laying the groundwork for intervention while building consensus among youth about priority actions. Key steps will include training of youth researchers; data collection and validation; and a visioning exercise where youth articulate steps for reducing participation in violent extremism. Findings will feed into radio programming as well as youth-led trust-building events and Quick Impact Projects and will be shared with decision-makers through media, policy dialogues, and presentations to Mission staff.

The fact that the youth research their own community puts them in a unique position, both in relation to the research as well as their community. Although they might already be familiar with many of the issues that affect their communities, taking a researcher’s position enables the youth to see their community through a different lens, generating a reflection and learning process. Ideally, the continuous process of data collection, analysis and community validation between researchers and community members leads to the creation of inclusive and pluralistic systems of knowledge, offering an entry point for community-driven social change by the young people.

The primary objective of the Youth Action Research is to provide innovative thinking on the role of young people in the prevention of violence and conflict, and as drivers in processes aimed at building and sustaining peace at local, state and national levels. The results of this Youth Action Research and response will in addition to the overall goal of CIPP project in discouraging Violent Extremism, also contribute to the actualization of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250. More specifically, the youth action research and response will aim to: (i) Increase awareness for strategies for resisting violent extremism, spread of violent extremism, its drivers, and factors that prevent and motivate participation in violent extremism (ii) Engage youths to assess and identify triggers of violent extremism and ways to mitigate them (iii) Engage youths to proffer community driven solutions and plans to counter violent extremism in the context of each state. (iv) Examine young women and young men’s apathy and disaffection in light of their political, social, cultural, religious and other aspirations; their sense of marginalization and exclusion; (v) Examine the driving factors and the root causes of youth engagement in organized violence, conflict, and violent extremism

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Participants 

 CIPP will work with the Partners, CPOs, CMMRC and State Coordinators, traditional leaders, youth and women leaders to identify youth participants that are from communities affected by violence, represent a range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, and are also drawn from ethno-religiously divided communities. We will then host a startup meeting to explain the research and action to the participants, their parents, their teachers and religious leaders, as well as various key stakeholders. Because of the number of states involved, meeting will be held in each of the States to allow for easy accessibility by local stakeholders.  CIPP will Host Trainings before commencement of the action research which will be led by an expert consultant that will work with Mercy Corps Team.

A total of 120 youth will be selected to participate in this research. Mercy Corps through IMC and PARE will identify youth researchers for this activity using a set criterion.

Target LGAs: The following LGAs will be targeted based on the intensity and possibility of VE and these are: Kaduna-Kajuru and Kaduna North; Katsina-Katsina Local Government and Safana; Kano-Fagge and Nasarawa; Plateau-Bassa; Benue-Guma.   All the communities in these LGAs will be targeted.

Methodology

The methodology will be both qualitative and quantitative methodological approach, which include Key informant Interviews (KII), Surveys, FGDs, photo documentation, and participant observations.  A consultant with support from Mercy Corps will train the researchers on Participatory Action Research and develop the methodology. Youth will be responsible for formulating research questions, conducting data collection and analysis, developing recommendations, and presenting their findings to the local community.

While the consultant will support youth in the design of research questions and tools, target communities that may include women, youth, women, religious leaders etc, a deliberate effort should be made to include in the interviews current or former members of armed groups. If possible, speaking to people who participated in different types of groups (banditry groups, gangs, vigilantes, VEOs).   A particular angle that would be interesting to better understand is the relationship between banditry groups and VEOs, and whether recruitment patterns and drivers are similar or different across these kinds of groups. Does participating in the former increase the likelihood that someone will join the latter?

Scope of Assignment

In conjunction with researchers, develop the methodology and train the them on Participatory Action Research.
Work with youth to formulate research questions and research tools; 
Support youth in data collection and analysis.
Support youth in compiling data, presentation of preliminary research findings with key local stakeholders to ensure feedback and strong community support.
Supporting youth in the final presentation of findings to key actors including local government and national government.

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Consultant Deliverables:

Existing guides/methodologies in participatory research, such as participatory impact assessments, everyday peace indicators etc. reviewed and best one recommended and a training guide developed.
Design and training workshop conducted
Tools for data collection are co-developed with youth
Data collection and analysis coordinated.
Findings presented to key stakeholders
Report for assignment

Mercy Corps Responsibilities

Organize all logistics for consultations, accommodation and transport
Recruitment of youth researchers
Organize all logistics associated with workshops/meetings
Review/approve training manuals and research methodology
Approve final report
The consultant will report to:
Deputy Chief of Party

The consultant will work closely with:

MEL Manager, Partner staff

Payment Terms
Mercy Corps will make payment within 10 days upon receipt of invoice through bank transfer. Mercy Corps will deduct WHT in line with government regulations.

Key Competencies

Education: Master’s Degree in Political Science, International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies; Economics, Statistics, Management is a must. A PhD is a valuable asset.
Work Experience: Previous work experience in coordinating, leading action research in conflict and post-conflict contexts, violent extremism in Nigeria is a key requirement and great asset;
A minimum of 7-year previous experience in undertaking participatory action research design, facilitating data collection and feedback sessions
Experience in designing participatory research methods; conducting research training related to preventing violent extremism;
Demonstrable experience in translating conflict analysis/research into programmatic and policy frameworks
Experience in sustained engagement with development partners, local agencies and community stakeholders
Strong analytical, communication and writing skills;
Information Technology: Mastery of Microsoft Word, Excel, Nvivo/Atlas.ti, SPSS/Stata/R and PowerPoint is essential. Knowledge of data visualization software, such as dashboard and tableau is a strong asset.
Languages: Ability to speak and write fluent English and understanding of local context extremely vital
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