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Consultancy to improve the shock-responsiveness and adaptiveness of the social protection system in Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka


The consultant will support to form an inter-governmental coordination mechanism for pursuing the agenda for establishing an emergency response mechanism through the social protection system, supported by evidence generated through an assessment of the shock-responsiveness of the existing social protection systems.

If you are a committed, creative professional and are passionate about making a lasting difference for children, the world's leading children's rights organization would like to hear from you.

For 70 years, UNICEF has been working on the ground in 190 countries and territories to promote children's survival, protection and development. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


Sri Lanka, as a climate change hotspot, has been experiencing frequent and severe disasters during the past decade in a cyclical pattern. In 2016 alone, Sri Lanka faced devastating floods and landslides in 22 out of 25 districts. Sri Lanka is also vulnerable to other large scale shocks, not least the risk of another major earthquake and Tsunami. These recent events indicate that Sri Lanka needs to be better prepared against inevitable and recurring disasters.

Globally, across the humanitarian sector, there is growing recognition that cash and voucher transfers can support people affected by disasters in ways that maintain human dignity, provide access to food and shelter, and help rebuild and protect livelihoods. The question is no longer whether cash is an appropriate way to meet the needs of people engulfed in crisis, but rather on how we can use cash transfers to effectively meet the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized children and families.

Lessons learnt from the 2015 Nepal earthquake response, and around the world, demonstrates that using existing government social security programmes to deliver emergency cash transfers in a low and middle -income countries, is a viable and sustainable emergency response mechanism. Sri Lanka has a wealth of national capacity to lead an emergency response with the existing disaster management structures, institutions and human resources at national and sub-national levels. Similarly, there are many social protection schemes being implemented by the Government of Sri Lanka to uplift the living standards of the most vulnerable and marginalized families. These existing social protection schemes can be an effective mechanism to support vulnerable people during emergencies, to rapidly recover from repeated crisis.

To this end, a workshop was held on 15 February 2017, to bring together government, UN and non-governmental actors involved in disaster management, humanitarian assistance and social protection in order to share regional and global experience and to initiate a discussion on how to establish a more permanent disaster response mechanism for vulnerable groups by building on the existing social protection system. The workshop was organised jointly by the National Child Protection Authority and UNICEF Sri Lanka. Other participating organisations included the Ministry of Disaster Management, Ministry of Women and Child Affairs, Ministry of Social Empowerment and Welfare, Department of National Budgets, National Planning Department, Department of External Resources, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, UN Habitat, UNDP, IOM, WFP, Sarvodaya, LEADS, World Vision, Oxfam, Save the Children. The workshop concluded with a discussion on way forward to enable Sri Lanka’s existing social safety nets more shock responsive.

In order to follow up and fully implement the identified and prioritized actions to enable a more shock responsive social protection system for Sri Lanka, UNICEF plans to recruit two consultants, one international and one national, to support the Government of Sri Lanka. The consultancy would result in establishing an inter-governmental coordinating mechanism for pursuing the agenda of establishing an emergency response mechanism through the social protection system; undertake an assessment of the shock-responsiveness of the existing social protection system and its potential as a mechanism for future disaster response and produce a concrete proposal for establishing an emergency cash transfer response mechanism using existing social protection system together with the relevant Government counterparts.

It is expected that this assignment will be performed through the teamwork of an international and national consultants (to be recruited separately; the latter with the participation of the international consultant). The current TOR specifies the tasks for an international consultancy to achieve the below objectives.

Purpose of the Assignment

The consultant will support to form an inter-governmental coordination mechanism for pursuing the agenda for establishing an emergency response mechanism through the social protection system, supported by evidence generated through an assessment of the shock-responsiveness of the existing social protection systems.

Specific objectives

  1. Assessment of the potential of the social protection system to respond to shocks and recommend options for development of a response mechanism focused on vulnerable groups (the reference group for oversight of the assessment should be in line with the proposed intra-governmental coordination mechanism);
  2. Facilitate a workshop with government and others to review the report findings and agree on the priority for development of a response mechanism;
  3. Based on the recommendations, work with government to develop a detailed proposal for the response mechanism;
  4. Actively foster stronger coordination between development partners for the advancement of social protection systems strengthening in general, and shock-responsive social protection in particular.

Assignment Tasks

Preparatory stage:

  • Conduct a desk review and develop a detailed time-bound plan for the assignment as per the above objectives, including the TOR for the oversight group;
  • Participate in the selection process of the SLCO for a national consultant for this assignment; subsequently, agree on the workplan with and provide overall guidance to the national consultant in order to achieve the above objectives;

    Assessment of the social protection system:

  • Develop a methodology and outline for the assessment of the social protection system in Sri Lanka;
  • Conduct the assessment resulting in a report with recommendations on response mechanism; in doing so, liaise with key stakeholders (Ministry of Welfare, World Bank etc) to avoid duplication;
  • Conduct a workshop to present/validate the findings and agree on development of a response mechanism;

     Coordination mechanism to establish emergency response  through social protection system:

  • Provide support/guidance to establishment of a coordination mechanism, including development of a TOR, draft plan/roadmap etc;
  • Facilitate the first meeting of the coordination group;
  • Develop a concrete proposal for establishing an emergency cash transfer response mechanism using existing social protection system together with the relevant government and non-government counterparts Ministries and Departments;


  • Develop a final report highlighting recommendations and way forward to GoSL and UNICEF in supporting the continuation of the established coordination mechanism and the implementation of the proposal developed under this assignment (up to 30 pgs);
  • Facilitate 1-day dissemination/validation workshop: presentation of the final assessment report and the proposal to key Government Ministries, UN agencies, CSOs, I/NGOs and development partners; agreement on the roadmap.

Expected Deliverables

  1. Finalized and agreed upon work plan
  2. Inception report defining outline and methodology of the assessment; workshop report
  3. Coordination group TOR; Proposal for emergency cash transfer mechanism; coordination meeting report
  4. Final report; agreed roadmap

Qualifications of Successful Candidate


Advanced university degree (Masters or PhD) in Economics, Social Science, Public Administration/Public Policy, Development Policy, or a related technical field.

Specialist skills/Training: 

Proven ability to conceptualize, plan and execute complex processes across a wide range of stakeholders, advanced ability to work quickly and under pressure; proven ability to work both independently and as part of a team; prior experiences working in social protection systems including cash transfers in emergencies.

Years of relevant experience

Minimum ten (10) years of professional work experience in policy, technical assistance related to social policy and/or social protection. Experience in emergency cash programming would be a strong asset.

Competencies of Successful Candidate

In-depth knowledge on the social protection systems in Sri Lanka and emergency cash transfer programmes; access to networks of professionals in related fields; ability to work cordially in an environment with persons of different backgrounds and opinions; ability to navigate challenges in completing tasks and ability ensure deliverables in a timely manner; Excellent organization skills, attention to detail and ability to contribute to a team.

Languages required

Excellent written and oral communication skills in English; strong interpersonal and presentation as well as facilitation skills.

To view our competency framework, please click here


  • The selected candidate will be governed by and subject to UNICEF’s General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants / Individual Contractors.
  • The consultant/individual contractor is required to certify that they are covered by medical/health insurance.
  • The consultant/individual contractor serves in their individual capacity and not as representatives of a government or of any other authority including UNICEF.
  • 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 laws.
  • UNICEF does not provide or arrange life or health insurance coverage for consultants and individual contractors
  • Travel paid for by UNICEF in advance, and travel costs reimbursed after travel, shall be based on economy class travel, regardless of the length of travel.

Please indicate your ability, availability and daily/monthly rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above (including travel and daily subsistence allowance, if applicable).  Applications submitted without a daily/monthly rate will not be considered.

Please apply with :

  • Letter of Interest and availability including a brief description of why the individual considers him/herself as the most suitable for the assignment
  • Personal CV or P11 form indicating all past experience from similar projects, as well as the contact details (email and telephone number) of the candidate
  • Examples of previous relevant work
  • Three (3) references

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.

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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  • Organization: UNICEF - United Nations Children’s Fund
  • Location: Colombo
  • Grade: International Consultant - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - International Law
  • Closing Date: 2017-07-22

What does it mean?

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