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Socio-Economic Report COVID-19: Social Cohesion and Community Resilience


  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: Home-based
  • Grade: National Consultant - Locally recruited Contractors Agreement - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Communication and Public Information
    • Environment
    • Social Affairs
    • Civil Society and Local governance
    • Documentation and Information Management
    • Economics
    • Development Cooperation and Sustainable Development Goals
    • Disaster Management (Preparedness, Resilience, Response and Recovery)
    • Malaria, Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases
    • Public Health and Health Service
    • Ebola
  • Closing Date: 2020-06-06

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The COVID-19 pandemic presents itself as a unique crisis in which a humanitarian crisis is evolving simultaneously with a global and local economic downturn and threatens to affect entire economies and livelihoods en masse. Communities will bear the brunt of the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. At the same time, just as that social capital—the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively—is at a premium, the pandemic also places consider­able strains on social cohesion, magnifying existing fault lines and creating new ones. The urgency of responding to the current crisis needs should not sideline important, ongoing processes of social dialogue and dem­ocratic engagement that ensure the gains made on ethnic relations, gender equality in the past decades are not rolled back.

As the COVID-19 crisis evolved, there has been a rise in narratives that reflect increasing divisiveness within society. These include blame/fear of other groups: China/Chinese as the source of the virus, anti-Muslim/anti-religious narratives (the Tabligh gathering in Peninsular Malaysia and church gatherings in East Malaysia were major COVID-19 clusters), and migrant workers and refugees (perceived as being especially high-risk). Another set of divisive narratives surround the household financial relief efforts, including: the “deservingness” of aid-recipients, categories of persons that feel excluded/under-served, and alleged prioritisation of districts that voted for the current government.

On the other hand, we can also see social cohesion at work as an important factor in the success of COVID-19 response efforts (e.g. trust in and adherence to authorities, ability of communities to self-mobilise, etc.). Social cohesion may be observed through two dimensions; vertical and horizontal. The horizontal dimension can be seen in the wide range of “bottom up” responses to COVID19 including volunteerism, charity, the #kitajagakita movement, for instance; all of which are closely related to strengthening community resilience. Social cohesion’s vertical dimensions may present themselves through the interactions between the government officials or institutions and the public. There were criticisms of how the COVID-19 messaging and public communication caused confusion and hardships to the people, with some reversals in decisions or conflicting messages being relayed by different parts of the government


Objectives of the Assignment

The objective of this assignment is to provide informed recommendations to the Government of Malaysia (GoM) on policy choices and adopt appropriate measures that support social cohesion and community resilience. The impact assessment will help expose structural vulnerabili­ties and weaknesses that undermine a community’s cohesiveness and its ability to act collectively and indiscriminately. The resulting policy note will make recommendations on how to reverse the trend of negative civic space; institutionalize community led-response systems; rely on social dialogue; empower local governments; scale-up community and city level resilience; and enhance trust among different actors. While states have an obligation to control the pandemic, doing so should not be a pretext for discrimina­tion, repression or censorship, including targeting women, refugees or migrants, the poor or civil society volunteers.

 Given this objective, UNDP is recruiting a national consultant to develop an impact study leading to a policy note, guided by the following areas/principles:

  • Identify the multifaceted issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic with a view to achieving greater long-term social cohesion. This includes focus on the role of language use in vertical/horizontal interactions that contribute to the production and reproduction of social realities.


  • To report on the conversation within the society including the misinformation, negative narrative that may include issues of social class, ethnicity, and migration. 


  • Document excellent community responses that reflect strong social cohesion or community resilience during the COVID-19 crisis. To examine how these communities instil trust, solidarity, and cooperation among members, before or during COVID-19.


  • Thematic areas include ethnic-religious issues, refugee related issues, social class issues, other vulnerable groups within the society.


The consultant is expected to apply both qualitative and quantitative textual analysis to provide in-depth case-oriented critical analysis. This will ensure what is gained in terms of depth will not be lost in terms of breadth when assessing the level of social cohesion within the society at this time, and especially on one that is as heterogeneous as Malaysia

Duties and Responsibilities

Scope of Work

The consultant will be under the direct supervision of the  Senior Development Economist and the Governance Specialist – to provide expert advice and support to Government and UNDP Country Office with the guidance from the of the Deputy Resident Representative / Assistant Resident Representative of The consultant will work in close collaboration (as necessary) with Government officials at EPU, UN Agencies, development partners, technical advisors and experts, multilateral and bilateral donors and the private sector to strategically position UNDP's support in relation to building back better in meeting the Agenda 2030.


1.Inception report

Based on initial review, develop an inception report that reflects the consultants’ understanding of the assignment, methodology to carry out the assessment for both vertical and horizontal social cohesion, tentative plan and schedule to carry out the tasks, and expected areas of recommendations.


2.Impact Assessment Report

Develop a SEI Assessment report mainly drawing on data sourced from media and applying Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as an analytical tool. The consultant may be able to draw on narratives being collected by the UNDP but should also be capable of carrying out their own search.


3. Policy note focusing on top priorities for building social cohesion and community resilience

Based on the existing needs and priorities identified in the assessment report, develop a high-quality policy note based on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 experience. The policy note must contain recommendations for future crisis response and non-crisis points of improvements.  


Deliverables of the consultant will be submitted to UNDP by email for review and approval. The contract is not expected to be a full-time contract but payment will be made according to the deliverables achieved.


Estimated timelines, payment and deliverables: 



Estimated timeline

% of Payment


Upon satisfactory submission and approval of Inception Report

7 June 2020



Upon satisfactory submission Draft SEI Report

30 June 2020



Upon satisfactory submission and approval of SEI Report

7 July 2020



Upon satisfactory submission of Draft Policy Note

23 July 2020



Upon satisfactory submission and approval of Policy Note

30 July 2020



Contracts based on daily fee:

The fee will be paid on a monthly based on time sheet completed with description of tasks, certified by Programme Manager. UNDP makes payments based on the actual number of days worked.

The estimated maximum number of workdays for the duration of the consultancy is as follows:


Daily rate (USD)

Maximum workdays

Total Amount (USD)

Maximum professional fee (excluding of all travel expenses)





  • Professionalism: Ability to apply sustainable development theories, concepts and approaches. Ability to identify issues, analyze and participate in the resolution of issues/problems. Ability to conduct data collection using various methods. Conceptual analytical and evaluative skills to conduct independent research and analysis, including familiarity with and experience in the use of various research sources, including electronic resources on the internet, intranet and other databases. 


  • Planning and Organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies but remain flexible to deal with changing situations or needs; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently. Demonstrates negotiation skills and experience engaging with strategic partners (UN Agencies, IFI’s, government institutions, bilateral and multilateral donors, private sector, civil society). Ability to build strong relationships with Government and external actors;  Ability to anticipate and understand client needs, formulate clear strategic plans, prioritise interventions and propose allocation of resources according to priorities;  Ability to develop innovative solutions to address challenging situations; Ability to establish effective working relations in a multicultural team environment;


  • Communication: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed.



Required Skills and Experience


  • Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in sociology, linguistic, anthropology, statistics or other humanities fields.
  • In lieu of an advance university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent), a combination of relevant academic background (Bachelor’s degree or equivalent) and with more than 5 years of extensive relevant professional experience in a related area or progressively responsible experience in social studies, development economics, national planning or public policy work;
  • Experience in development and implementation of response and recovery/resilience programmes will be added advantage;
  • Knowledge of key UN /UNDP thematic areas of support will be preferred;
  • Knowledge of other languages common in the Malaysian context is an advantage.


  • In-depth knowledge of social systems and relationships in Malaysia;
  • Ability to develop sound datasets to support evidence-based policy making and interventions
  • Knowledge of the international humanitarian/emergency response and disaster risk reduction system is highly desired
  • Experience working in Malaysian context is preferred;
  • Excellent written communication skills.

Interested individuals must submit the following documents/information to demonstrate their qualifications:

  • Cover letter (maximum of 2 pages) on how your qualifications and experience can lead towards the successful deliverable of this assignment within the required timeframe;
  • Financial Proposal (refer to template as provided as Annex 1).
  • Personal CV including areas of expertise and past experience in similar projects and at least three (3) references.
  • Up to three (3) samples of written / research work.

How to Apply:

  • Kindly download the Letter of Confirmation of interest and availability, Financial Proposal Template and General Terms & Conditions mentioned below;
  • Read and agree to the General Terms & Conditions;
  • Click the ‘apply’ icon and complete what is required;
  • Scan all documents into 1 pdf folder and then upload;
  • For clarification question, please email to The clarification question deadline is three (3) days before the closing. When emailing for clarification questions, please put "MyIC/2020/025" as the subject matter.

Forms and General terms & conditions to be downloaded:

Incomplete proposals may not be considered. The shortlisted candidates may be contacted, and the successful candidate will be notified.

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, aboriginal groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

Evaluation Criteria

The offers that will be received shall be evaluated based on the Combined Scoring method – where the qualifications and methodology will be weighted a maximum of 70% and combined with the price offer which will be weighted a maximum of 30%.


UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence. UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.
We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
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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