Job Opening

Posting Title: Study on food systems and macroeconomic conditions in West and Central Africa
Department/Office: Economic Commission for Africa
Duty Station: NIAMEY
Posting Period: 25 April 2023 - 01 May 2023
Job Opening Number: 23-Economic Commission for Africa-206202-Consultant
Staffing Exercise N/A
United Nations Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity
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Result of Service

Result of the service
The expected results of the mission are :
- The report on food systems and macroeconomic conditions in West and Central Africa is completed and validated
- A policy brief and advocacy note on how strengthening food systems can help to achieve food security in the region is completed and disseminated

Work Location

Homebased

Expected duration

3 months

Duties and Responsibilities

Background
In Africa food security remains a current challenge regarding the presence of ever-increasing threats every year. Climate change is reducing crop yields and productivity by 34% since 1961, maize and wheat yields decreased on average 5.8% and 2.3%, respectively in sub-Saharan Africa in the period 1974–2008. Combined with the drought’s impact on agriculture, conflicts are still one of the critical drivers of food insecurity in West Africa, especially in Sahel region and Northwest Nigeria. Across the Sahel region, close to 20 million people are facing severe food insecurity, the highest caseload recorded since 2016.
In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic and Ukraine conflict have had significant effects on food security in the West Africa region, even as it continues to grapple like the other world regions with the three main drivers of food crisis: socio-economic factors; environmental factors and peace and security. The number of food insecure people has increased year after year, with the latest CH results estimating that 48 million will be food insecure (CH/IPC3+) during the 2023 lean season.
The recent twin shocks of the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have primarily driven food insecurity, not by food shortages, but by reducing incomes and disrupting supply chains which in turn resulted in significant price hikes. Given that many countries in the region are import dependent for food, fuel and fertilizer, governments have been facing both higher import bills and expenditures in the form of subsidies. Fiscal deficits have been exacerbated by currency depreciation for some countries, and there has been an increasing risk of debt distress in the region, as illustrated by Ghana’s default on part of its external debt repayment in December 2022. Increased financing of subsidies and social safety net measures for vulnerable populations have also further tightened fiscal space and aggravated debt distress.
In this context, governments are already struggling to provide basic services, with increasing poverty fuelling social unrest. Inflation has also eroded household purchasing power and incomes, reducing accessibility to food. As global growth is forecast to decelerate to 1.9 per cent in 2023 from an estimated 3 per cent in 2022. The situation could potentially become increasingly difficult for countries in the region; high levels of public debt may constrain governments from necessary investments into their food systems and their ability to respond to future shocks.
As such, there is an increasing need to better understand the linkages between macroeconomic conditions and key aspects of food systems and food security in the region.
Against this backdrop, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and the World Food Programme (WFP) will conduct a joint study to explore the linkages between macroeconomic conditions, food systems and food security in the region. ¿
This term of reference is developed for the recruitment of a qualified consultant to support ECOWAS, ECA, WFP and CILSS to carry out the joint study.

Main Tasks and Deliverables:

The consultant is expected to work under the coordination of the technical team composed by the ECOWAS, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), CILSS and WFP and under the direct supervision of the Chief of Subregional Initiatives Section of ECA/SRO-WA.

The consultant is expected to be responsible for the achievement of the following tasks:
• Develop a clear workplan for the study
• Conduct the 5 parts of the study as outlined in the Methodology and Scope section.

The following deliverables are expected from the consultant:

i. A clear workplan for the study
ii. A methodological note on the conceptual and analytical framework of the study; i.e. an analytical framework that links macroeconomic conditions to food system and food security in the region with a clear rationale (methodological note)
iii. (a) A provisional report and (b) final report of the study
iv. A policy brief and advocacy note on how strengthening food systems can help to achieve food security in the region
v. Meeting report of the final validation of the study

Methodological and Scope of the study

To meet these objectives, the study will cover 17 countries in the region and comprises of 5 parts:
i) Desk review for the 17 countries
This consists of secondary data analysis using data that is already available from ECOWAS, UNECA, CILSS and WFP. A clear comparison of the 17 countries in terms of 1) their level of investment into their agriculture/food systems vis-à-vis the Malabo declaration target and national policy responses thus far to achieve sustainable food systems; 2) their food security trends for the same period; 3) their macroeconomic conditions for the same period is expected. Regional policies for enhancing food systems will also be examined.

ii) Literature review of existing analytical frameworks
Given that there are already several analytical frameworks for food systems that include macroeconomic drivers, a literature review will be conducted to help identify a framework that could be considered as a starting point for part c of the study (i.e., fleshing out region-specific critical pathways among key indicators).

iii) Analytical Framework
Although an overall food system framework is useful, depending on the region, certain characteristics are more pertinent (e.g., import dependency). In order to take such characteristics into account, following the literature review, a food system framework that fleshes out region-specific critical pathways between macroeconomic indicators, food system indicators (e.g., food production, transformation, transportation) and food security indicators will be outlined. In particular, the pertinent channels through which macroeconomic conditions affect food systems and in turn the region’s food security will be explored. This will help with identifying key macroeconomic and food system variables for part d of the study (i.e., quantitative analysis).

iv)Quantitative Analysis
This part of the study will aim to estimate how a change in one or more macroeconomic variables affects food systems and food security in the region. Using the analytical framework from part c of the study, relevant macroeconomic, food system and food security variables will be identified, and a literature review conducted on relevant elasticities. Potential ways to connect variables in a quantitative model given available data will be explored, with the purpose of estimating how a particular change in a macroeconomic indicator (e.g. inflation) affects an aspect of food systems which in turn affects household food security. Rationale for the possible model will be provided, and robust econometric models to underpin cross-sectional dependency and heterogeneity in a panel data set can be used, or any other relevant model that fits the purpose of this analysis on the conceptual and analytical framework of the study

v) Conclusions/Recommendations
Conclusions and recommendations will be drawn based on the study’s findings that can help inform national and regional policymaking for enhancing food security, given the improved understanding on its linkages with specific aspects of food systems and macroeconomic conditions. The findings and recommendations will be validated by key regional stakeholders in a workshop, and an advocacy note for policymakers will be prepared to feed further policy dialogue on strengthening food systems to enhance food security in the region.

Qualifications/special skills

A postgraduate university degree (Master's degree or higher) in economics, statistics, agriculture, or any related fields is required.
A minimum of seven years (07) of proven experience in analytical policy research, impact analysis studies, macroeconomic and food system analysis, in the processing and analysis of economic, agricultural and food systems data is required with proven mission reports and publications.
Having an extensive knowledge of the macroeconomic conditions and food systems in West and central Africa and expertise in econometric models and statistical processing and analysis software is desirable. Working experience on missions related to economic studies and research in West and Central Africa is also desirable. Experience with the United Nations System is an advantage.

Languages

English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in French and English is required.

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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