Minority Rights Group International (MRG) Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, writes this opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.+ LEARN MORE
Iraq / Iran Project Evaluation – Terms of Reference and call for Expressions of Interest
Strengthening Human Rights Organisations Working with Vulnerable Civilians in Iran and Iraq.
To protect the safety of participants and beneficiaries in Iran, it has been agreed that no contact will be made with individuals or organisation in Iran in the course of this evaluation. Elements of the project implemented in or benefitting those in Iraq will be evaluated in the normal way (Covid-19 permitting). Elements of the project implemented in or benefitting those in Iran will be evaluated only through desk research and through contacts with individuals who are not in Iran. The approach has been agreed as appropriate in the current circumstances with the EU grant management.
Duration: 1 January 2017 – 30 June 2020
1. Background of the project
The project aims to contribute to securing the human rights of religious and ethnic minorities, women and IDPs, in Iraq and Iran. The project has provided capacity support, research and advocacy support and emergency human rights defender grants.
For reasons of security more details about activities and a copy of the full project logframe will be shared with the appointed consultants.
2. Evaluation Objectives
The objectives of the Final Evaluation are:
- Assess the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability and impact of the project in relation to the objectives and supporting outputs set out in the proposal documentation (whilst respecting security and risk avoidance protocols.)
- Provide MRG with an opportunity for ‘structured evaluative learning’, with the aim of learning from the design and implementation process.
- Make recommendations to any other stakeholders as appropriate.
3. Key evaluation questions
Referring to the project documentation, did we complete all of the activities covered by this evaluation as planned to a reasonably high quality? What problems were encountered at this level? How did changes on the ground in Iran and Iraq, affect our plans and was our reaction and changes to plans appropriate and timely? How did any problems affect the activities and to what extent were they overcome?
Where completed as planned, did the activities covered by this evaluation contribute to the planned results? Where this was so, refer to evidence. Where not so, what factors intervened and explain how they impacted. Suggest ways that MRG and grantees tried to overcome any problems and how successful this was (or not). Document any changes in the external environment that may have helped or hindered the project achievement of results. Discuss the extent to which changes were foreseeable and the extent to which the programme design took into account foreseeable risks and context changes. If there were any unplanned results (positive or negative) explain what these were and how they came about.
Make an assessment as to whether the results achieved are likely, over the longer term to achieve or contribute to the achievement of the specific objective of the project and comment on whether this is likely to be sustained. If it is unlikely that all or part of the purpose will be achieved, or even if achieved, may well not be sustained, why is this and is this something that could have been foreseen or overcome?
Additional evaluation questions:
- What effect has the project had (if any) on communities and partners’ capacities to represent the rights and interests of their communities? Detail progress made but equally identify gaps or constraints that are still impeding progress. What input have other organisations or individuals had in supporting and developing partners’ capacities in addition to or alongside MRG’s input? Assess the MRG contribution to any capacity gains vis a vis the work of others. Which capacity building methods were less effective and why? Are any gains in partners’ capacity sustainable over the longer term? To what extent have any improvements in capacity translated into benefits for the community on the ground? Are partners more sustainable organisations than when the project started? Have their governance structures been strengthened?
- What sort of partnership relationship has developed between MRG and the partners and amongst the partners? What aspects of this have been more or less helpful?
- Were the publications produced in this project timely and relevant? Did they address the issues of importance to the target communities? Were they disseminated appropriately and if so, did they prove useful to those who received them?
- Did MRG and partners incorporate women’ issues and gender in the way envisaged? If not, why not? If yes, how was this achieved? What can MRG learn from this in the future in similar programme?
- The security situation has been a major challenge for this programme. How has MRG handled this aspect and what can it learn from this?
4. Key deliverables
- Evaluation workplan/inception report in English
- Preliminary findings (max. 5 pages) at mid-term of the evaluation period in English
- Final evaluation report (min 20 pages, max 35 pages excluding annexes – including 2-3 page executive summary). We anticipate that this will need to exist in two versions:
- a public facing document to be available on MRG’s website in which key identifiers of individuals, organisations and locations will be removed for security reasons. This version will need to be in both English and Arabic; and
- a full and detailed version with all information included which will be for internal use and for submission to the EU and other donors (in English only).
We will agree the text of both versions with the evaluation team to ensure that the security redacted version still includes a fair representation of the evaluators’ assessment of the project.
Based on MRG’s prior experience, we anticipate that the following tasks will be needed, but we are open to suggestion for alternative methodologies:
- Read all project materials, review feedback from project partners (including notes of meetings, reports of campaigns, training evaluations, capacity assessments, notes of meetings, email correspondence.)
- Speak to MRG project staff (face to face or on secure virtual channel).
- Hold detailed discussions re project implementation, results and impact with staff in 3 organisations involved in the project.
- Correspond with a sample of 40 activists trained to gather feedback.
- From a list of 20 local and national advocacy targets, media sources and independent experts supplied by MRG, speak to or correspond with at least 10 to seek out opinions on the project, attribution and impact.
- Independently identify and get opinions from at least 5 additional expert/well informed sources (those you plan to approach will need to be vetted in advance by MRG and partners for security reasons).
- From a list of 10 international advocacy targets speak to or correspond with at least 6 to seek out opinions on the project, attribution and impact.
Please note that due to COVID-19, we are working on the assumption that all interviews can be carried out by phone or on virtual platforms and that no travel is absolutely essential for this process to be successfully completed.
5. Experience and Expertise required
- Extensive knowledge and experience of working on human rights, gender, minority rights, NGO capacity building, including knowledge of relevant debates and international standards
- Very good knowledge of both Iran and Iraq (recent events, politics, governance, social issues, gender, security)
- Experience of comparable evaluations and strong track record of evaluations carried out on projects with similar elements
- Familiar with and able to comply with all EU evaluation requirements
- Ability to speak, read and write both Arabic and English. Some knowledge of Farsi would be an advantage.
- Experience of carrying out or evaluating training, capacity building, human rights defender support, advocacy and work with smaller NGOs in difficult contexts.
The evaluator will need to be independent of MRG, its donors, partners, the project targets and participants and will need to demonstrate that no perceived or actual conflict of interests would arise during the evaluation. MRG will only reveal the organisations that we have worked with to the selected team so your application should include a list of organisations that you have worked for or have an association with so that we can assess whether any conflict of interest might arise.
The evaluation team will all need to be able to demonstrate that they will be able to gain the trust of the partner organisations, individuals and the minority communities targeted in this programme.
6. Report submission, timetable and budget
The evaluation field work should be carried out between August 2020 and Nov 2020. An inception report should be submitted within one month of contract signature, a 5-page statement of preliminary findings should be submitted no later than 5th October 2020, a draft evaluation report should be submitted no later than 20th October 2020. MRG will submit comments within 10 working days and the final full detailed report responding to all comments must be submitted by 20th November 2020 in English. MRG and the selected evaluator team will then agree a process of redaction for the public security edited report which should arrive in English and Arabic by 10 December 2020.
The evaluator/members of the evaluation team may also be required to participate in a recorded interview discussion about the evaluation to create an audio record or podcast which will be available on MRG’s website to make the evaluation findings available in more accessible ways.
The total budget for the entire evaluation including fieldwork costs and any necessary travel is €8,000.