Consultancy: Examine risk-related factors influencing humanitarian considerations in deciding whether, when, and how to respond; and develop concrete recommendations to donors and implementers to enable principled risk-sharing arrangements.
NRC is looking for an experienced consultant to examine risk-related factors influencing humanitarian implementing organisation’s considerations in deciding whether, when, and how to respond, particularly in hard-to-reach locations by: reviewing risk assessment and identification processes and risk mitigation measures; examining how donor regulations and zero-tolerance policies affect decision making and implementation of a principled humanitarian response; and identifying barriers to risk mitigation, particularly risk sharing. Provide concrete, practical recommendations to donors and operational actors on how to enable principled risk-sharing arrangements.
Humanitarian action is, by its very nature, inherently risky. Humanitarian actors are consistently required to measure and balance the humanitarian imperative to alleviate suffering in accordance with humanitarian principles against commitments to do no harm and a duty of care to staff. These decisions are made within an increasingly risk-averse funding environment, and typically under considerable time pressure, in complex conflict-affected environments, particularly in hard-to-reach areas.
Recognizing that humanitarian organisations have faced growing challenges operating in more volatile operational and security environments, and that donors have faced unprecedented pressures and expectations in the allocation of limited resources, more needs to be done to investigate the challenges and to identify pragmatic risk-sharing solutions; this includes the need for broad agreement on standards and principles, enhanced understanding of risk and risk-sharing, expanded risk appetite and acceptance, and a continued collective focus on reaching humanitarian objectives, particularly in hard-to-reach areas, while managing risk appropriately.
For example, counterterrorism (CT) measures have had a tangible and growing impact on modalities of humanitarian programme implementation. In addition, CT measures can influence where organisations can work and which communities they can reach, often having the most negative outcome on those deemed the most vulnerable or in the hardest-to-reach locations. CT measures, however, are not the only donor- or government-imposed risk frameworks that curtail the ability of humanitarian organisations to access those most in need. Risk frameworks such as anti-money laundering, anti-corruption and even value-for-money and efficiency rules and benchmarks have become more prevalent and more of a challenge in recent years.
Further, scrutiny of aid has increased because of fraud, corruption and sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) cases, political pressures, and the overall deficit of trust within the system. These factors have led donors to impose more complex and stringent oversight of aid spending, often at the expense of programming in the hardest-to-reach areas, the risks of which are coming under increasing scrutiny. Additionally, donor risk-management practices in many cases serve to generate additional risks for partners, particularly where risks and liabilities are simply transferred, without truly providing any benefits for real risk mitigation.
Within these realities, there is a need to further understand the operational and field-level challenges related to taking on various risks, and the risk sharing necessary to enable principled, efficient, and timely humanitarian responses that meet the needs of affected communities wherever they are, while balancing the need for accountability to stakeholders. As a basis for recommendations on what risk sharing can look like, we first need to understand more about the operational risks faced; the considerations in deciding whether, when, and how to respond; and how donor regulations and policies influence these considerations. From there, we need to develop concrete recommendations that operational partners can practically apply in the field, and recommendations to humanitarian donors to ensure greater risk sharing.
As risk appetite among donors decreases and risk transfer to partners increases, operational agencies are often hesitant to implement programming in hard-to-reach areas—despite a stated desire and push for frontline responders to reach the most vulnerable. Recognising the realities of growing risk adversity within the broader environment, it is crucial that we identify the risks encountered in humanitarian situations, understand how they impact operational decision making, and identify concrete actions, at operational and donor policy level, that will enable and ensure adequate and principled risk sharing.
By working across the NRC risk management unit, field operations department, and partnership and policy department, we aim to hire a consultant to investigate risks faced at operational level, particularly but not exclusively in hard-to-reach areas, and to identify practical risk-mitigation and risk-sharing measures for operational actors and donors. Overall, the project will include:
- A review of NRC’s internal risk register, and possibly the risk registers (or similar) of other relevant implementing organisations, and consultations with operational-level colleagues to determine the risk areas that should be prioritized in this study for further investigation. In doing so, the review will identify risks that are particularly relevant to hard-to-reach areas.
- Building on the above prioritization, the consultant will examine how these risks influence humanitarian actors in deciding whether, when, and how to respond, particularly in hard-to-reach locations, and how these risks affect decision making and implementation of a principled humanitarian response.
- A report (with internal and external facing components), that provides recommendations to ensure and enable adequate and principled risk sharing. The reports will provide concrete, practical recommendations to implementing organisations, including NRC Country Offices, and to humanitarian donor agencies outlining actions they can take to increase risk sharing.
Complete a desk review, including, of donor risk policies and guidelines and existing research on the topic, including, but not limited to:
- ICRC/Netherlands proposed statement on risk sharing (2021); HERE-Geneva Consultancy on Risk Sharing, Discussion Paper (2020); Risk and humanitarian culture: An ICVA Briefing Paper (2020); PHAP Learning Stream on Risk management in Practice (2021); InterAction NGOs & Risk (2016, 2019), etc.
- Donor agency zero-tolerance policies and regulations
- Other materials as relevant
- Develop a methodology and lead a consultation process to determine which risk categories and types should be prioritized, with a particular focus on hard-to-reach areas. The process will include consultative dialogue with NRC field teams, a review of existing NRC data (e.g. risk registers), and consultations with other relevant implementing actors.
Review the systems and tools that INGOs, including but not limited to NRC, have and use for identifying and assessing risks and developing mitigation measures for “high risks” in their operations. In addition, and where relevant, interview key stakeholders within NRC and externally (including donors and government counterparts).
- Gather more information on the prioritized categories of risk identified in step two, particularly those risks in relation to humanitarian action in hard-to-reach locations;
- Review the process, systems and tools that humanitarian actors use for identifying, assessing, deciding on what risk approach to use and controlling risks within the prioritised risk categories. Understand how major operational decisions are made when they carry significant risk and understand the humanitarian implications of these decisions.
- Examine current risk management approaches and practices related to a prioritised list of risks in funded partnerships (e.g. risk transfer, risk sharing, risk mitigation, risk acceptance, risk avoidance); to include an examination of policies and practices that influence our internal decision making (e.g. we become more risk averse, decide against responding in certain areas, etc.);
- Identify good practices among implementing organisations and donors.
- Write and submit a report, including internal and external facing components that summarizes the findings of the research and makes concrete recommendations on practical and actionable approaches to risk sharing, both for implementing organisations to apply at operational/field level and for donor agencies.
- Perform other related duties as assigned.
- Experience with and knowledge of risk and risk management as it relates to the humanitarian sector, particularly senior management of operations in an international organizations or international NGO.
- Experience working in multiple complex humanitarian emergencies.
- Experience with and/or extensive knowledge of humanitarian operations and partnerships, particularly on the topics of risk management (risk identification, risk assessment, risk monitoring), risk mitigation, including risk sharing, and the various risk treatment options (e.g. avoid, mitigate, accept, transfer).
- Experience conducting research and developing recommendations for governmental and non-governmental humanitarian organizations.
- Ability to analyze and convey complex ideas clearly and succinctly and tailor relevant recommendations.
- Fluency in English.
Location of consultancy and reporting relationship
In light of movement restrictions and disruptions due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the consultant may be based anywhere in the world with duty travel for face-to-face meetings as conditions allow. The consultancy is a joint project of NRC’s Partnerships and Policy (PnP) Department, Field Operations Department, and Risk Management and Compliance Unit. The consultant will report directly to PnP while also receiving guidance from a Strategic Advisory Group made up of the relevant NRC stakeholders.
The consultancy is for a maximum of 80 days. The deliverables must be completed prior to the end of 2021.
Pre-requisites for application:
- Registration as a “sole trader” or consultant in country of residence or as employee within a consultancy company is required.
Consultants who meet the above requirements are invited to submit an expression of interest, and include the following as part of their application:
- CV and a cover letter addressing suitability for the assignment;
- Proposed work plan outlining specific dates for key deliverables;
- Unedited writing sample of previous work;
- Daily consultancy rate in CHF or EUR, inclusive VAT and all charges;
- List of references that can be contacted to verify the quality of services;
- Proof of registration as a consultant/sole trader/registered company.
Please note: All service providers/consultants working with NRC should maintain high standards on ethical issues, respect and apply basic human and social rights, ensure non-exploitation of child labour, and give fair working conditions to their staff. NRC reserves the right to reject quotations provided by suppliers not meeting these standards. Consultants doing business with NRC will be screened on anti-corruption due diligence before NRC confirms a contract.
We look forward to receiving your application!