Supporting Pastoralism & Agriculture in Recurrent & Protracted Crises (SPARC) qualitative research expert consultants – Kenya

About Mercy Corps


Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

SPARC Program Background:

Supporting Pastoralism & Agriculture in Recurrent & Protracted Crises (SPARC) is a six-year (2020-2026) initiative funded by FCDO. The goal is to generate and promote the application of evidence on what works to strengthen the resilience of agricultural and pastoral livelihoods in fragile, drylands contexts in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. The program aims to advance research on livelihoods, agriculture and pastoralism that can be used by FCDO and other agencies to guide decisions on programs and policies to support livelihoods resilience in the drylands. Through research and evidence, SPARC will develop knowledge to enhance the ability of FCDO, the donor community, NGOs, local and national governments and other stakeholders to assist pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and farmers in the context of conflict, climate change, and other shocks and stressors. Mercy Corps is a member of the SPARC consortium with the ODI and the International Livestock Research Institute. Cowater International is the lead firm.

Purpose / Project Description:

SPARC is planning for a study in South Sudan and Kenya, to learn more about the strategies pastoralists are using to respond to volatility and uncertainty in the drylands, particularly as a function of climate and conflict-induced shocks. Specifically, the study will 1) identify and categorize the mechanisms, systems and processes pastoralists are employing in response to shifting hazards and shocks in distinct drylands contexts; 2) identify the factors that influence which approaches pastoralists prioritize when responding to shocks, and 3) from the perspectives of local communities and actors, investigate which approaches appear to be the most effective in building resilience. Answering these questions will shed light on the pathways of evolution of pastoral systems amidst continuing and potentially growing volatility in the drylands and should generate clear guidance on opportunities for the design and implementation of livelihood support programming. The study will entail a combination of desk review, expert consultation, and qualitative fieldwork in Garissa County.

Mercy Corps seeks to hire qualitative research consultants with extensive experience working in Garissa County, to implement the fieldwork and participate in analysis activities.

Summary of Activities

To implement this research activity in Garissa County, the consultants will conduct two rounds of interviews, likely with the same set of respondents each time, before the end of November 2023 (with a target to conduct interviews in March and September). The consultants will be expected to conduct rigorous, semi-structured interviews with a sample size of approximately sixty (60) people from pastoralist communities in each round, divided between the consultants. That means, assuming two consultants are hired for this role, each will be expected to deliver 30 interviews per round. Additionally, the consultants will be responsible for leading at least three focus group discussions (FGDs) during each round of data collection. The consultants will be responsible for identifying and recruiting respondents using a purposive, convenience sampling approach, whereby Mercy Corps will provide a breakdown of respondents types and number. The consultants will then be required to mobilize these respondents accordingly. While Mercy Corps staff based in Garissa may be able to provide limited support in terms of respondent identification and mobilization, the expectation is that the consultants will be able to do this work largely independently.

In addition to implementing field data collection activities, consultants will also participate in select research design and analysis activities.

Specific Activities:

The Consultants will:

  • Participate in the design of research instruments, including by reviewing tools designed by lead researchers and providing technical feedback particularly to ensure relevance and sensitivity of proposed interview topics.
  • Lead the recruitment of a panel of 60 research respondents, according to sampling criteria to be provided by Mercy Corps.
  • During Round Two, replace missing research respondents with new panelists, based on selection criteria to be provided by Mercy Corps.
  • Conduct semi-structured in-depth interviews (approx. 30 per consultant) and three focus group discussions per round, requiring careful and sensitive probing and taking detailed interview notes.
  • Comprehensively type interview notes in English and share with the study team iteratively over the course the fieldwork. As a best practice, interview notes should be typed and shared with the study team on a daily basis.
  • During the course of each round of fieldwork, participate in regular debriefs with members of the broader SPARC research team, to share initial findings, raise concerns and problems, and adjust approaches as needed.
  • Engage in post-data collection analysis sessions with a focus on bringing contextual and subject matter expertise to bear, and ensuring relevance, accuracy, and sensitivity of written products
  • Review report drafts and provide technical and contextual contributions to the resulting analysis.
  • Liaise with local stakeholders as needed to ensure authorities are aware of the activity and to receive any necessary permissions to conduct fieldwork.


  • Thorough review of qualitative research instruments prior to each round of interviews, resulting in written feedback on documents and participation in calls with study team to ensure relevance and contextual sensitivity of tools;
  • Two rounds of qualitative interview transcripts (approximately 30 interviews per consultant per round; 3 sets of focus group discussion notes), carefully labeled and uploaded on a shared Google Drive.
  • Participation in at least four analytical discussions with the full research team over the course of each round of field work, to share preliminary findings and discuss priorities for further probing and follow-up in subsequent interviews.
  • Review research report drafts, to provide feedback and areas for improvement based on contextual knowledge.

Timeframe / Schedule:

This consulting opportunity will entail approximately 40 days of work starting March 15, 2023 to November 15,2023 with intervals in between.

The Consultant will report to:

Research manager

The Consultant will work closely with;

ResearchTechnical lead, MC Director of programs

Required Experience & Skills:

    • University degree in social science, livestock, veterinary, Natural Resource, Rangeland, and other related fields. Mater degree is preferred.
      – 3-5 years of professional experience in qualitative research.
      – Proven experience in conducting similar studies in pastoral livelihood.
      – Ability to collect, collate and analyze data and synthesize relevant information and with high analytical skills
      – Excellent in reviewing of data collection tools, interviewing skills and ability to extract the required information from study participants and prepare and submit technical reports and credible content
      – Good communication skill (spoken and written English) and good command of the local language (Somali)
      – Ability to deliver products on time against tight deadlines.
      – Demonstrates proactiveness, initiative, creativity, and flexibility.
      – Working experience in challenging and underserved environment and under minimal supervision

Application Process

Qualified and interested parties are asked to submit the following:

  1. Detailed technical proposal (between 3-5 pages) clearly demonstrating a thorough understanding of this ToR and including the following:

i. Description of the Capacity and qualifications of the individual, including previous relevant experience (maximum 1.5 pages)

ii. Description of the proposed approach and methodology, including data collection, integration of gender considerations and ethical standards, quality assurance (maximum 3.5 pages)

iii. A proposed schedule/work plan (i.e., a Gantt chart) (maximum 1 page)

  1. A financial proposal (in KES) with a detailed breakdown of costs for the study

i. Itemized consultancy fees/costs

ii. Validity period of quotations

iii. Expected payment plan and method

  1. Curriculum Vitae of the consultant outlining relevant experience
  2. Names and contact information of three references who can be contacted regarding relevant experience
  3. A copy of a previous reports of similar work undertaken

Application Deadline:

Please submit your detailed proposal to by Close of Business on 7th March 2023.

Selection Criteria

1.Criteria – Fit to technical specification.

Scale and Rational

Weight-0-3 marks:

Weak methodology, no work plan or that the one provided is not sufficiently detailed & no previously completed assignments of similar nature-

Weight-4-7 marks:

Moderately strong methodology which demonstrate a modest ability to complete the task.

Existing work plan is detailed but has some gaps. 1 to 2 examples of recently completed similar assignments

Weight 8-10 marks:

Very strong methodology which demonstrates a strong ability to complete the task. The work plan is well detailed and is sequential. More than 3 examples provided of recently completed similar assignments

Total weight 50%


2. Criteria – Experience and quality of key personnel

Scale and Rational

Weight 0-3 marks:

Individual has less than 2 years of experience in qualitative research, knowledge management or documentation. No academic background in any required field.

Weight 4-7 marks:

Individual has 2 to 3 years of experience in the required experience.

Weight 8-10 marks:

Key personnel have 4+ years of experience in the required field.

Total Weight 20%


**3.Criteria -**Independent verified references.

Scale and Rational

Weight 0-3 marks: No references provided or referees are less than 3 or referees cannot validate the quality of work.

Weight 4-7 marks: Between 1 to 2 referees provided. Referees’ account provides sufficient proof of quality of work.

Weight 8-10 marks: 3 or more referees provided. Referees validate the quality of work.

Total Weight 10%


**4. Criteria -**Cost and value for money

Scale and Rational

Weight 0-10 marks: Lowest technically acceptable to get full marks 10; other to be ranked relative using reverse scoring. Formula: [(Lowest Cost of All Bids / Cost of Bid for This Firm) * 10]

Total Weight 20%


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

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