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Centre of Excellence (CoE) Feasibility Study Specialist

Home Based - May require travel

  • Organization: FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • Location: Remote | Home Based - May require travel
  • Grade: Consultancy - Consultant - Contractors Agreement
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Scientist and Researcher
  • Closing Date: 2023-06-07

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please note that Closure Date and Time displayed above are based on date and time settings of your personal device

  • FAO is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality, background and culture.
  • Qualified female applicants, qualified nationals of non-and under-represented Members and person with disabilities are encouraged to apply;
  • Everyone who works for FAO is required to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and professional conduct, and to uphold FAO's values
  • FAO, as a Specialized Agency of the United Nations, has a zero-tolerance policy for conduct that is incompatible with its status, objectives and mandate, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination  
  • All selected candidates will undergo rigorous reference and background checks
  • All applications will be treated with the strictest confidentiality

Organizational Setting

FAO's Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa (SFS) is a subsidiary of FAO’s Regional Office for Africa. The principal function of FAO SFS is the overall identification, planning and implementation of FAO’s priority activities based on the needs of the 15 member countries in the sub-region and SADC. FAO SFS supports member states in implementing strategies for addressing priorities related to sub-regional food and nutrition security, agriculture and rural development. One of the SFS areas of focus is to improve diets for better nutrition, as well as support with appropriate policies, strategies and methodologies for a nutrition-sensitive agricultural and food systems including work on value chains, market linkages, post-harvest handling and agro-processing.
To this effect, over the years FAO SFS has been supporting SADC with the implementation of the SADC Food and Nutrition strategy. Currently through a Technical Cooperation Program facility, FAO is supporting the SADC Secretariat in the initial stages of establishing a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for nutrition with a focus on outlining the conditions, designs, mechanisms and partnerships required to establish and operationalise the SADC Regional Centre of Excellence (RCoE).

Rationale for SADC CoE on nutrition

SADC developed a Framework and Guidelines on establishment of Regional Centres of Excellence (COE) and Centres of Specialization (COS). In August, 2018 SADC Council of Ministers approved the Framework and Guidelines in the city of Windhoek, Namibia. The SADC regional framework for the establishment of Centres of Specialisation and Centres of Excellence focuses on SADC’s primary objective, which is to improve economic growth and development, alleviate poverty, enhance the quality of life of the people of the Region, to support its socially disadvantaged areas through productive systems, deeper cooperation and integration so that the region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international trade and world economy. The SADC regional Centres of Specialisation and Centres of Excellence will occupy a niche area of strategic importance determined by the long-term vision of SADC for the development of the region and all its member states.

Centres of excellence as defined in the SADC guidance manual are:

• To create nation-wide, regional, and international research partnerships that bring together the key individuals and organisations needed to generate and implement multifaceted solutions to complex regional challenges.
• To stimulate internationally competitive, leading and cutting-edge basic and applied research in areas that are critical to the SADC region and for the benefit of the member states.
• To accelerate the exchange of research, knowledge and human capacity within the SADC region and among the member states to produce economic and social benefits.
• The regional centres should be able to produce dividends and influence economic growth that will yield benefits and sustain the living standards of the member states, and lastly,
• The regional centres should create knowledge that will inform and strengthen policy within the member states and the SADC region.

However, there are no current centres of excellence on nutrition. The related operational CoEs focus on Food security in South Africa, jointly implemented by the Universities of Western Cape and Pretoria in the SADC region.

In the SADC Ministers of Health decision of November 2021, the Ministers endorsed Malawi’s proposal to host a Regional Centre of excellence (RCoE) on reduction of stunting. The government of Malawi later expanded it to be centre of excellence on Nutrition. Furthermore, the Ministers of Health directed SADC to develop a concept note and a road map towards the establishment of the centre of excellence. The CoE aims to achieve the following:
1. Serve as a reference point for best practices, establish standards, develop high impact programs.
2. Attract resources to accelerate reduction of malnutrition.
3. Serve as an incubation hub of new ideas and for collaborative regional research and innovation.
4. Provide high quality and specialized training in areas such as financing for nutrition, feasibility of product development within the region etc. notably the CoE will nurture relevant skills and knowledge to fill the critical skills gaps required in the dynamic Nutrition sector.
5. Create an independent, autonomous legally established platform, that brings together all 16 member states to discuss and stimulate innovations around nutrition that can be most useful in addressing the triple burden of malnutrition.

In order to support SADC with its intentions to establish a CoE, FAO is seeking a Feasibility study expert to support with this process. The overall objective of the consultancy/PSA is to establish the feasibility of a long-term and sustainable mechanism in the SADC region that would allow the operationalization of the envisaged Regional Nutrition CoE.
The post is home based with travel to Southern African countries.

Reporting Lines

Feasibility Study Specialist (consultant/PSA) will work under the overall supervision of the FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa. She/He will work under direct supervision and guidance of the SFS Nutrition Officer. Feasibility Study Specialist will work under guidance and collaboration with the SADC Secretariat in the Division of the Social and Human Development (SHD) Directorate. The consultant/PSA is expected to work with a team of experts from the 16 SADC Member States countries within the Food and Nutrition sector. In undertaking the Study, the Feasibility study expert will work with the SADC Directorate of Infrastructure; Education and Skills Development in SHD Directorate; Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Division of the Industrial Development and Trade (IDT) Directorate; SADC Nutrition Implementing Agencies in Southern Africa, UN Agencies, Research and higher tertiary training institutions with vibrant Nutrition projects and research and SADC Member States.

Technical Focus

Organizational development, institutional capacity development, policy and legal frameworks, Nutrition specific, Nutrition sensitive Agriculture Food systems, other nutrition sensitive interventions and nutrition financing.

Tasks and responsibilities

The overall goal of the consultancy is to conduct a feasibility study on the viability of the proposed regional SADC Centre of Excellence (CoE) on nutrition from a financial and organizational perspective through evaluation of Nutrition and Food security related CoEs and other CoEs, governance and management structure, functionality, and operational modality of the SADC Regional Nutrition CoE, in line with the SADC Regional Framework and Guidelines for the Establishment of Centres of Excellence and Centres of Specialization.

This will be mainly a desktop assignment involving online communication/discussions, and internet searches. There will be limited travel to some countries. The consultant/PSA will be guided by the various SADC, Continental and international protocols, conventions, strategies and master plans, decisions and resolutions on the establishment of the CoE.

The specific Tasks and responsibilities include:

1. To assist the SADC Secretariat to undertake a comprehensive audit of the existing and planned Nutrition and Food security related CoE (virtual and physical)
1.1. Review of all Nutrition and Food security related CoE and related platforms and training institution frameworks. The coverage of this research is global with a focus on best practices adoption for the SADC region.
1.2. Document CoEs, higher learning institutions or centres specialization in Nutrition that exists or are planned for the SADC Region.
1.3. Study the various models of other CoE in the SADC Region and beyond in order to document best practices and concepts to inform the conceptual design of the SADC Regional Nutrition CoE.
1.4. Visit some existing Centres of excellence in the region and engage others virtually to learn and adopt as well as explore hybrid or the possibility of an entirely virtual Center that connects all key institutions in the region and how this modality can be managed and hosted.
1.5. Review SADC reports on implemented as well as ongoing projects on the establishment of CoEs to ensure full understanding of the SADC processes and role that a Regional CoE plays in the promotion of capacity development.
1.6. Explore the legal requirements for establishing the SADC Regional Nutrition CoE, in consultation with the SADC legal Experts and other relevant authorities.

2. Propose the framework/modality of the planned SADC CoE on Nutrition based on the feasibility findings in order for the CoE to reach its purpose
2.1. Recommend the framework, type, size, governance and management structure, business model, function, vision, mandate, suitable location and other institutional requirements (e.g., infrastructure requirement, implementation arrangements, integration with other CoEs etc.) of the proposed SADC Regional Nutrition CoE; in line with the SADC Regional Framework and Guidelines for the Establishment of Centres of Excellence and Centres of Specialization.
2.2. Draft the SADC Center of Excellence for Nutrition Charter, including the Centre’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), for review and validation by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG).
2.3. Propose the staffing requirements for the SADC Nutrition CoE.
2.4. Clearly articulate the role of SADC in that setup and how it will contribute to this mandate without compromising on its coordination role in the region.
2.5. Prepare the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the various committees that will provide strategic and operational guidance to the SADC Regional Nutrition CoE.

3. Propose operational mechanisms /modality/arrangements for sustaining the Centre’s operations
3.1. Provide estimates for the financial requirement, including an annual budget for the establishment and operation of the SADC Regional Nutrition CoE.
3.2. Conduct an analysis of existing resources (human, financial and physical space) and resource gaps to be considered in the operationalization of the SADC CoE for Nutrition.
3.3. Propose a financing model for its sustainability and suggest potential financiers.
3.4. Assess possible resource streams for the operationalisation of the SADC Centre of Excellence for Nutrition.
3.5. Conduct mapping of potential institutions in the region to create a regional network.
3.6. Propose actions to sustain the Centre’s capability to offer services that impact various sectors including private sector, governments, academia and development agencies and its accessibility to the people in the region.


Minimum requirements

• At least a University Degree in organizational development, business administration, organizational psychology, management, operation or a business-related discipline. An advanced degree is an added advantage.
• A minimum of five years of experience in organizational or enterprise development.
• Working knowledge (Level C) of English and limited knowledge (Level B) of one of the other FAO languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish). For PSA, working knowledge of English. Ability to speak in public and knowledge in the other SADC languages – French and Portuguese will be an added advantage.

FAO core competencies

• Results focused
• Teamwork
• Communication
• Building effective relationships
• Knowledge sharing and continuous improvement

Technical/functional skills

• Ability to work with a range of nutrition partners, including high-level policy makers, government officials, academia, UN agencies, civil society, and private sector within multi-sector and multi-agency working groups.
• An appropriate balance of expertise and practical knowledge in document, program review and analysis.
• Expertise in designing methodology, and undertaking systematic qualitative and quantitative analyses and assessments and computer skills for compilation and analysis and dissemination of assessment reports.
• Previous working experience in the in the SADC region, or in low-and-middle-income countries.
• Demonstrated excellence in leadership and strong interpersonal and networking skills
• Excellent facilitation skills and experience in participatory approaches
• Experience working on feasibility studies on nutrition projects on a similar or larger scale is an added advantage.
• Familiarity and insight on functionality of centres of excellence or centres of specialization in the related field.
• Familiarity on SADC and SADC member states processes, policies, strategies and action plans for nutrition.
• Good understanding of development, food and nutrition security challenges in the SADC region.

Please note that all candidates should adhere to FAO Values of Commitment to FAO, Respect for All and Integrity and Transparency

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