Job Opening

Posting Title: Revision of the Targeting Approach of the Social Safety Net Programme - International Consultancy
Department/Office: United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
Duty Station: HQ Amman
Posting Period: 13 June 2022 - 03 July 2022
Job Opening Number: 22-UNRWA - Programme Relief & Social Services - Headquarters Amman-183822-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity

Result of Service

NA

Work Location

Remotley

Expected duration

Two weeks.

Duties and Responsibilities

BACKGROUND
Due to the significantly depressed economic situation, particularly in three of the five fields of UNRWA operation, combined with fragile governance contexts, UNRWA remains the first humanitarian assistance provider for Palestine refugees in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Poverty rates exceed 80 per cent in these three fields suggesting that assistance be provided to the majority of the population to alleviate severe pressures on household economies. Multiplier effects of providing near universal assistance offers relief for wider populations including hosts that may be equally affected.

Currently, the Social Safety Net Programme (SSNP) provides cash and food assistance to 388,000 beneficiaries, who are targeted through proxy-means (PMT) testing. Persistent dissatisfaction with the PMT or poverty assessment approach to beneficiary selection had highlighted the shortcomings and inappropriateness of this approach for UNRWA. The main reasons for this have been identified as:

• Application of the PMTF requires a large number of staff to regularly assess and re-assess eligibility of very poor households.
• The PMTF requires regular updating which is based on large household surveys and re-calculation of the PMTF. UNRWA does not have the in-house resources for implementing large-scale surveys in general and relies on host country partners.
• Targeting based on poverty suggests that coverage of social transfer programmes is elastic, i.e. they expand when poverty increases and contract when the situation improves. However, UNRWA’s SSNP budget has been frozen and so has its ceiling and, therefore, the programme is seen as being mute in its response to increasing needs.
• Aspirations of the SSNP to cover a visibly large number of persons has meant that limited resources were stretched to be able to show coverage. This came at the detriment of the transfer value that has remained symbolic and without effectiveness in addressing poverty or food insecurity.
• Inappropriateness of applying the PMTF in emergency/displacement contexts due to resource and time intensiveness of the assessment process combined with sometimes inaccessible locations of recipient populations.
• Parallel application of the PMTF by host governments and UNRWA has created issues of inconsistency in targeting while not addressing overlaps in beneficiary lists.

Socio-economic surveys to identify vulnerabilities and high-frequency crisis monitoring of key socio-economic variables for trend analysis are being carried out in all field offices (in collaboration with ESCWA statistics division).
Poverty rates of the Palestine refugee population have increased to 81.5 per cent in Gaza, 83 per cent in Syria, 86 per cent in Lebanon . There are no officially published recent updates on poverty rates for Jordan (15.7 per cent in 2019) and the Westbank (14 per cent in 2016/17). The impact of rising food and fuel prices is further exacerbated by the high share of disposable income spent on food (32 per cent of total household expenditures in Gaza, 39 per cent in Lebanon and 48 per cent in Syria ), high levels of currency depreciation in Lebanon and increasing energy prices in Jordan. Food insecurity levels reached new highs with 78 per cent of families reducing the number of meals in Gaza, 57 per cent in Syria and 58 per cent in Lebanon. In 2021, the cost of the food basket increased by 351 per cent in Lebanon and 97 per cent in Syria .

Where poverty levels are continuously increasing and reaching near universal levels, it is the vast majority of the population being affected by economic and social distress. In Syria, employment is no guarantee that poverty can be avoided due to extreme loss in purchasing power of salaries due to the devaluation of the local currency, while in Gaza income generation remains elusive due to the absence of a productive economic sector and viable market environment. Lebanon is on a trend towards such a scenario given the combination of the pandemic and severe economic, financial and political crises affecting Palestine refugees, an already severely marginalized population, disproportionately.

In such contexts, those persons and families that have been experiencing high dependency levels prior to the deterioration of the situation will be further exposed to hardship as social transfers that may have been made to them through communal or family ties, are no longer sustainable. For them, the sustainability and effectiveness of a Social Safety Net Programme becomes even more critical for their survival. At the same time, other populations that had not shown any or low dependency levels are being cast into socio-economic distress also requiring assistance.

Several reform tracks have been initiated, including
(i) Further identification and refinement of vulnerability criteria for targeting of cash assistance: In fields with very high poverty levels, the shift away from a poverty-based targeting system for relief interventions, based on identified vulnerable categories amongst the Palestine refugee population (high dependency ratio within a family and long-term support needs), funded through the UNRWA programme budget, will continue . Targeting should ideally be based on demographically available data from UNRWA’s registration system, including female headed households, families with disabled members and families with children under five.

(ii) Better alignment between emergency and SSNP interventions: In contexts with very high vulnerability levels, the SSNP will continue to be accompanied by a universal ultra-basic assistance floor for all registered Palestine refugees as determined by immediate needs triggered by a socio-economic crisis situation and supported through Emergency Appeal funding (Gaza, Syria and possibly Lebanon). In fields with relatively low and modest poverty levels, with an additional poverty assessment filter. This will ensure the more effective use of resources in addressing the social and economic exclusion of the most vulnerable.

(iii) Exploration of opportunities for alignment with host government social protection programmes and other UN agencies where and as appropriate in terms of transfer value and targeting approach.

(iv) Better alignment of UNRWA’s cash assistance transfer levels with specific household expenditure needs

(v) Alignment of all cash and food beneficiary distribution lists with the registration system and introduction of a compliance framework and review process of beneficiary lists according to eligibility criteria.

DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Under the supervision of the Deputy Director of Relief and Social Services Department, the consultant will provide recommendations to revise the objective and targeting approach of the Social Safety Net Programme.
Specific tasks related to this consultancy are:

• Review of current approaches to targeting in the five field offices (Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank, Gaza, Syria)
• Provide recommendations for
o the programme’s objective in line with its limited financial envelope
o improved targeting criteria based on recently conducted socio-economic surveys to improve the effectiveness of the programme in a way that is technically, politically and financially feasible
o criteria for initiating future adjustments/ revision of targeting criteria
o criteria for providing food vs cash assistance
o harmonizing approaches across field offices to the extent feasible and criteria for the application of different approaches at different fields
o aligning the targeting of the Social Safety Net Programme and the emergency cash/ food distributions so that both programmes optimally complement each other
o possibly aligning targeting mechanisms with those of host countries and other UN agencies
o better alignment of cash assistance transfer levels with specific household expenditure needs
o transitioning from old to new targeting criteria
o indicators for monitoring programme effectiveness

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications:

¿ Advanced university degree (Masters' or equivalent) from an accredited educational institution in economics, statistics, social development or other related academic discipline.

¿ Knowledge of Near East political, social and economic environment and culture (desirable).

Experience:

¿ At least eight years of progressively responsible experience in the field of social policy, social protection, social assistance or similar, involving coordination, design, planning, management and monitoring of large-scale social protection and/or transfer programmes in humanitarian/development contexts.
¿ A minimum of two continuous years of relevant international experience outside UNRWA, and outside the country(s) of which the candidate is a national or holds citizenship, a passport or a national identity number.

Competency:

¿ Ability to collect, validate and analyze qualitative data
¿ Advance analytical skills and ability to conduct independent research
¿ Ability to design, manage and implement qualitative data
¿ Excellent team leadership skills
¿ Proven writing and analytical skills


Language: ¿ Excellent command of spoken and written English.

Additional Information

¿ Remuneration will at P4 Level.
¿ The assignment is home-based with the possibility of travel to Amman
¿ The Consultant will work under the overall supervision and guidance of the Deputy Director of Relief and Social Services and in close collaboration with the RSS teams of the UNRWA Field Offices.

No Fee

THE UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT CHARGE A FEE AT ANY STAGE OF THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS (APPLICATION, INTERVIEW MEETING, PROCESSING, OR TRAINING). THE UNITED NATIONS DOES NOT CONCERN ITSELF WITH INFORMATION ON APPLICANTS’ BANK ACCOUNTS.

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