International consultancy to provide technical assistance in developing a National 1,000 Golden Days Communication Strategy and Plan in Tajikistan

Dushanbe

The proposed consultancy aims to assist the Government of Tajikistan in developing a National 1,000 Golden Days multichannel communication strategy and plan. The objectives of communication strategy and plan are to create a value about this critical window that have long lasting implications across a child's lifecycle and to promote a range of practices with clear, age-appropriate and action-oriented messages that are recommended for specific stages in the 1,000-day window. The target audience includes not only those who practice the behaviours but also those who influence behaviours in a household, community and the society.

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.

Post Title: International consultancy to provide technical assistance in developing a National 1,000 Golden Days Communication Strategy and Plan in Tajikistan

Duration of contract: 1 September 2017 – 30 April 2018 (140 days)
Location: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Closing date: 09 August 2017


1. BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION

With the 2008 Lancet Series on ‘Maternal and Child Undernutrition’ findings on the irreversible damage to the brain and child’s physical development caused by malnutrition during the critical thousand days between conception and a child’s 2nd birthday, nutrition interventions / programmes globally have increasingly focused on this strategic period of time.

Today, global knowledge highlights the importance of ‘nurturing care’ beyond nutrition during the first 1,000 days as a unique window of opportunity to build healthier and more prosperous futures. Recently, the Lancet Series on Early Childhood Development (ECD) published new evidence that supports the concept of ‘nurturing care’, during this important period, to establish a stable environment that is sensitive to children's health and nutritional needs, with interactions that are responsive, emotionally supportive, and developmentally stimulating. ‘Nurturing care’ – defined as health, nutrition, security and safety, responsive caregiving, and early learning – should be provided by parent and family interactions and supported by an environment that enables these interactions. A holistic approach involving families through service providers across many sectors - e.g., health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, child and social protection, including birth registration – is therefore critical to enable young children to thrive. Despite this growing evidence, the importance of the first 1,000 days is still not widely recognized in Tajikistan, neither among policy makers nor among general population. As a result, attention and coverage of the comprehensive set of interventions essential for this important period are limited in Tajikistan.

Among the nurturing care practices essential during the first 1,000 days, infant and young child feeding (IYCF) is one of the most challenging due to the complex interplay of many contextual factors at multiple levels. Indeed, this is where major gaps exist in Tajikistan with only 20% of children 6-23 months receiving the optimal IYCF . This is also reflected in the fact that over 20% of children 0-5 years suffer from stunting, the irreversible result of chronic nutrition deprivation. To intervene effectively across the diverse geographic settings, ethnic and cultural groups, and unique contexts in the country, UNICEF, in partnership with Drexel University, assisted the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoHSP) in conducting formative research. The research identified many challenges, including the presence of major confusion about breastfeeding, initiation of first foods, and progression of food introduction across the board from caretakers to health service providers. At the same time, it also highlighted positive aspects of family support and cultural values regarding IYCF, which can be leveraged for behaviour change.

Hence, it is timely and imperative that, the holistic, innovative, and multi-sectoral first 1,000 days programme be initiated in Tajikistan. Based on global lessons learned to-date, the programme shall incorporate value building as well as education around this window of opportunity for a healthy and productive life. For translation of the value into behaviour change, the interventions focusing on equipping families with the time, resources, knowledge, and skills they need to provide nurturing care shall also be included.

For this purpose, UNICEF seeks an international expert to assist the Government of Tajikistan and its partners to design a National 1,000 Golden Days communication strategy and its plan with a view to creating the value around a thousand critical days of child development and to achieving associated behavioural change. As ‘nurturing care’ involves a number of behavioural change targets for different stakeholders ranging from families to communities to service providers to policy makers, the communication strategy will take a phased approach with multiple focuses. Given the magnitude of the challenge and the momentum created through the formative research, the first phase after overall value creation will focus on the promotion of optimal IYCF practices.

2. OBJECTIVES

The proposed consultancy aims to assist the Government of Tajikistan in developing a National 1,000 Golden Days multichannel communication strategy and plan. The objectives of communication strategy and plan are to create a value about this critical window that have long lasting implications across a child's lifecycle and to promote a range of practices with clear, age-appropriate and action-oriented messages that are recommended for specific stages in the 1,000-day window. The target audience includes not only those who practice the behaviours but also those who influence behaviours in a household, community and the society.

Social and behaviour change communication messaging reinforced by community mobilization, mass media, and system strengthening efforts should create the following values:
• Early childhood is a period of special sensitivity to experiences that promote development, and that critical time windows exist when the benefits of early childhood development interventions are amplified. The society pays a high price, now and into the future, for not acting to protect children and promote early child development. The first 1,000 days are known as the sensitive periods particularly for stunting and its future impact on the child’s future growth and development. Yet, still many young children are at an elevated risk of poor development because of stunting.
• The most fundamental promotive experiences in the early years of life come from nurturing care and protection received from parents, family, and community, which have lifelong benefits including improved health and wellbeing, and increased ability to learn and earn.
• Among the factors influencing the child’s acquisition of developmental competencies and thus necessary for nurturing care, nutrition plays a major role. Indeed, the optimal nutrition during pregnancy and infancy during the first 1,000 days can have a profound impact on the child's growth, development of cognitive, motor and social skills development, reductions in morbidity, mortality, disability, and injury as well as protect the mother's health.
• The physical and mental health and nutritional status of a pregnant and lactating woman is directly connected to the growth and health of her infant. Undernutrition during pregnancy affects not only foetal growth but also brain development.
• It is the collective responsibility of governments, policy makers, service providers, communities, and families, to guarantee that every child is given the family care, right nutrition, access to health services, early learning opportunities, and protective environment.

Creation of these values should be followed by the communication for development (C4D) interventions that promote families’ adoption/maintenance of a range of nurturing care practices and that facilitate the Government leadership and political prioritisation to enhance access of quality services and thereby creating enabling environment. The targeted behavioural results will be achieved only with effective public and personal communication that overcomes the barriers which deter acceptance of the recommended behaviours.

The specifically targeted behavioural results in the first phase of campaigns will be around responsive IYCF practices and maternal nutrition. The illustrative desired behavioural change at family level include, but are not limited to:
• Immediate initiation of breastfeeding after birth
• Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life
• Starting at 6 months appropriate complementary feeding (meeting dietary diversity and meal frequency requirements) together with continued breastfeeding to 2 years or beyond
• Intake of adequate micronutrients before and during pregnancy and lactation, especially iron, folic acid, calcium, iodine, and vitamin A through food consumption, micronutrient supplementation, and use of high quality fortified food (e.g., adequately iodized salt).
• Consumption of iron-rich or iron-fortified foods for young children 6-23 months
• Good hygiene practices, in particular hand-washing with soap at critical times: after defecating and before eating or preparing food.
• Responsive feeding as part of good parenting and child stimulation – encourage children to eat, but not to force-feed them; treat feeding times as periods of learning, love and interaction, which promote physical, social and emotional growth and development; talk to children during feeding, and treat and feed girls and boys as well as children with disabilities equally and patiently; experiment with different food combinations, tastes, textures and methods of encouragement in case a child refuses to eat a variety of foods.
• Breastfeeding support - While the mother has the primary role of breastfeeding the child, other household members, community and health workers, should support her. For example, the father can support her by making sure she has nutritious food, helping with household and childcare responsibilities, and being emotionally supportive of her, the baby, the older children and other family members.

3. MAJOR TASKS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED:

The contracted international consultant will be responsible for the tasks as stipulated below.

1. Develop an inception report explaining the methodological approach to be used to undertake the assignment with a realistic timeframe.
2. Conduct a literature review to identify any barriers and opportunities for 1,000 days value creation and associated behavioural change. This will include, amongst others, familiarization with the results of IYCF formative research in Tajikistan.
3. Conduct interviews with the relevant government and non-government agencies/partners engaged in implementation of the interventions essential for the first 1,000 days in order to understand the country context. This will include the review of the currently available interventions around IYCF, which will be the initial focus, as well as the review of existing TV animation programme on ECD, “Sandukchayi Zulbiyo” and the ongoing campaign on social inclusion of children and women with disabilities for potential synergy and integration.
4. Conduct rapid assessment of potential institutional entry points for demand creation / promotion of desired behaviour change, human resources and system capacity to deliver messages, and partnerships.
5. Undertake field visits to observe the nurturing care practices in real life and explore, in addition to the prior evidence available, what are other social / institutional factors hindering parents to adopt optimal practices, including gender norms/roles influencing parenting practices, etc.
6. Develop an integrated multichannel social and behaviour change communication strategy for the National 1,000 Golden Days Programme at all levels (from central to community levels, including policy makers and parliamentarians), with a detailed plan of action for 3 years. While the initial focus is IYCF/nutrition, the consultant is also expected to define the subsequent phases of communication programme to consider the holistic development of the child, not just from nutrition perspective but other aspects of nurturing care. The strategy may be designed to cross-fertilize with other ongoing communication campaigns such as on inclusion of children and women with disabilities.
• Identify the primary and secondary audiences – in light of the diverse cultural / social contexts and geographic settings within the country, targeting strategy should be proposed.
• Define communication objectives
• Develop an evidence-based theory of change with sequenced plan of action to clearly present how change will occur what needs to be done first and then next and how activities complement and support each other.
• Identify the communication channels, including institutional entry points - everything from cell-phones to community communication channels to interpersonal influencers (e.g., health workers) to radio and TV
• Programme approaches and positioning – consideration should also be made for the strategy to reach out to the most vulnerable.
• Identify a list of targeted BCC activities, including potentially a series of campaigns
• Identify partners/allies, both organizations and influential individuals at the national and local levels
7. Support and provide technical advice on communication for social change to key government officials, development partners, and other civil society organisations, including media agencies to enable them to effectively implement the above-mentioned detailed plan of action.
8. Provide technical guidance in designing the first phase of national 1000 Golden Days Campaign with the first phase focusing on IYCF and maternal nutrition practices. Consultant engagement will include the following actions, though changes in actions or additions may also arise depending on the final strategy and plan mentioned above:
• Development of an innovative logo and slogan for the national campaigns
• Development of roll-out/execution plan (including a media plan) with detailed activities/outputs of the campaigns from national to regional and local levels
• Development of scripts for TV/Radio spots and TV/Radio programmes
• Development of other communication materials and tools needed to implement the campaigns.
While actual production of the final materials will be outsourced to a media company, the consultant is expected to lead the process of prototype development with engagement of relevant stakeholders.
9. Develop monitoring and evaluation framework to assess the impact of the communication programme in general and campaign specifically.
10. Forecast an estimated cost for entire implementation of the campaign.
11. Propose possible resource mobilization plan (human resources, logistics and financial resources).
12. Prepare a completion report.

4. METHODOLOGY

While the consultant will work with government and non-government stakeholders and UNICEF to finalize the exact methodology for developing the communication strategy and plan, the assignment will involve at minimum the following: i) literature review; ii) interviews with the relevant government agencies and other partners active in ECD, including maternal and child health and nutrition; and iv) field visits to observe the life of pregnant and lactating women and the children under 6 months, 6-8 months, 9-12 months and 12-24 months in Tajikistan and to identify positive deviances.

To achieve required coverage and intensity of the communication activities, it is expected that a broad coalition of organisations (e.g. media, NGOs, government and development partners) be formed to participate in the design and implementation of the communication strategy and plan. As such, the proposed methodology for developing the communication strategy and plan should involve participatory and consultative exercises, ensuring full engagement and ownership of the relevant stakeholders and all other interested parties in the design stage. Capacity building of the key stakeholders, including media partners, who will be involved in the design and implementation of the actual campaign activities is required in this process.

In development of the communication strategy and plan, it will be critical to consider specific gender nuances for the success of the work (e.g. supporting both boy and girl infants and their unique needs, roles of fathers and other male caregivers as well as female, considering intra-household power dynamics, etc.); at the same time, the strategy must also critically consider and incorporate the nuances between different population groups and regions (e.g. families from vulnerable groups, living in rural or remote areas, etc.).

5. DELIVERABLES, TIME FRAME AND PAYMENT SCHEDULE

№ Deliverables/ Deadline/ Payment Schedule
Installment I - 20% of the contract value
1. Inception report /30 September 2017/ Upon UNICEF approval of inception report

Installment II - 30% of the contract value
2. First draft of an integrated National 1,000 Golden Days multichannel social and behaviour change communication strategy with detailed plan of action/ 30 November 2017/ Upon UNICEF approval of strategy

Installment III - 50% of the contract value
3. Draft design of the first phase of the National 1000 Golden Days Campaign focusing on IYCF/nutrition/ 31 January 2018
4. Draft monitoring and evaluation plan of the campaign / 31 January 2018
5. Final draft of all components of the National 1000 Golden Days communication strategy and campaign plan incorporating feedback and comments from all relevant stakeholders, including UNICEF and government partners/ 31 March 2018
6. Final consultancy completion report / 15 April 2018

Note: As stipulated in the methodology section, in developing and finalizing the strategy, plan and campaign design, extensive consultation with and capacity building of all relevant stakeholders should be conducted as part of the deliverables.

6. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Adequate measures should be taken to ensure that the process responds to quality and ethical requirements.
The contracted international consultant should be sensitive to beliefs, manners and customs and act with integrity and honesty in their relationships with all stakeholders. Furthermore, it should protect the anonymity and confidentiality of individual information.

7. DURATION OF THE ASSIGNMENT

Estimated number of working days required for this assignment is 140 days over a period of 8 months from 1 September 2017 to 30 April 2018 (negotiable).

8. PLACE OF WORK

The consultant will work both remotely and stationed in UNICEF’s Dushanbe with travel to the field.

9.TRAVEL

UNICEF Tajikistan will cover travel-related costs, including return travel of the consultant by the most direct route in economy class from her/his home country to Tajikistan and within Tajikistan. The consultant will receive UN-approved Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) for the first 10 days and reduced DSA rate of USD 100 for each subsequent day while in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, by visit.

10. REQUIRED QUALIFICATION
• Advanced University Degree in Nutrition, Public Health, Communication for Development, Early Childhood Development, and other related disciplines.
• Extensive knowledge and work experience in upstream work on communication for development.
• Solid knowledge and work experience in ECD, nutrition, public health, and other child survival and development areas.
• At least 8 to 10 years of experience in developing communication strategy and campaigns, preferably in the field of ECD, nutrition, and public health.
• Knowledge in relation to the areas of human rights, social inclusion and social change, gender equality, and inclusive development a plus.
• Previous working experience with UNICEF and/or other international agencies. Experience in CEE/CIS region is an advantage.
• Excellent facilitation, analytical, conceptual and writing skills.
• Fluency in English. Knowledge of Russian and/or Tajik language is an asset.

11. REPORTING ARRANGEMENTS
The consultant will directly report to the Nutrition Officer of UNICEF Tajikistan, under the overall supervision of Chief, Health and Nutrition of UNICEF Tajikistan. The evaluation of the consultant shall be completed based on the timely submission of the deliverables, and accuracy and quality of the products delivered.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES:

The link to review detailed Terms of Reference would be available at the following links: www.untj.org/jobs, www.unicef.org/tajikistan/resources, www.facebook.com/uniceftajikistan.
The candidates who are interested to apply for the position should follow the electronic application's instructions at:
http://jobs.unicef.org/cw/en-us/job/506181?lApplicationSubSourceID=
It requires the applicant to upload the detailed CV and academic degrees/diplomas. UN candidates should upload at least two latest performance evaluation reports.
Individual contracts should, to the extent possible, stipulate all-inclusive fees, including lump sum travel and subsistence costs, as applicable.

To view our competency framework, please click here

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.

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 organisation.

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: Dushanbe
  • Grade: P-4, International Professional - Mid level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Communication
    • Health
  • Closing Date: 2017-08-09

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