TERMS OF REFERENCE
UNRWA is the largest United Nations programme in the Middle East. It provides assistance and
protection to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the occupied
Palestinian territory (oPt). It does so by offering to a population of some 5 million registered refugees
a range of human development and humanitarian services in primary and vocational education,
primary health care, social safety net, community support, camp improvement and microfinance.
UNRWA’s role also encompasses advocacy and actions to address the human rights and protection
needs of Palestine refugees.
Consultancy – External Evaluation of the Microcredit Community
Support Programme, Amman
The Relief and Social Services Programme (RSSP) is one of the Agency’s five core programme
Agency-wide, the vast majority of RSSP’s financial and human resources are directed towards the
relief or social assistance programme that currently provides quarterly food and cash assistance to
290,000 refugees across the five fields. The smaller Social Services Programme oversees a variety
of work targeting vulnerable groups; one of these pieces of work is the Microcredit Community
Support Programme (MCSP). The objective of the MCSP is to increase Palestine refugee household
assets through the provision of access to financial and non-financial services and products.
The MCSP began in 1994 as the Poverty Alleviation/Income Generation Programme and has gone
through several iterations as the Programme worked to find its footing in the Agency due, in part, to
the fact that UNRWA has a robust Microfinance Department in four Fields of Operation. In 2007,
MCSP by and large shifted its focus from a direct lending model to an indirect lending model called
the Community Managed Fund (CMF) Programme. Through indirect lending, UNRWA affiliated
community-based organizations (CBOs) are provided with training by MCSP staff and eventually,
seed capital. Once trained, these CBOs provide loans to refugees in their communities. Although
this indirect lending model was used in some fields prior to 2007, the CMF was officially launched in
2008 starting with Jordan and then was rolled out in Syria later the same year. In 2009, the West
Bank began implementation of the CMF and then Lebanon began implementation in 2010. The
MCSP does not operate in Gaza field. To date, 16,904 loans have been disbursed by CBOs through
the CMF for a total value of US$ 8,210,215. In addition to the CMF, the Lebanon and Jordan Fields
continue to offer other financial products under the MCSP, primarily consisting of business and home
improvement loans. As of April 2012, there were 269 active loans in Jordan Field valued at US$
520,161 and 575 active loans in Lebanon Field valued at US$ 2,020,759.
In each field where MCSP operates, the programme is overseen by a staff member who sits in
UNRWA’s Field Office. Under her/his technical guidance, staff in the Area Offices are responsible for
working with the CBOs on the CMF and in cases where direct lending still occurs, for working directly
with the refugees themselves. A total of 21 staff work full-time with the MCSP; ranging from 10 staff
in Lebanon to 3 staff in Syria.
In 2011, a social audit of the MCSP was conducted in Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank with
RSSP and CBO staff. Results from the audit showed MCSP to be gender sensitive and providing
much needed loans to refugees. While RSSP and CBO staff were able to state the primary
components of the MCSP’s mission, most staff were unclear what the mission means in practice, who
the specific target group is and what impact MCSP is meant to make amongst its clients. Thus far,
impact of the MCSP is most often documented through success stories although this does not happen
on a systematic basis across the fields. In 2011, the Lebanon Field Office conducted an impact
assessment of the MCSP. Results from the semi-structured interviews with clients found a number of
positive outcomes such as being able to smooth household consumption and the ripple effects this
has had on the family, such as children’s education. Being able to secure an entrepreneur loan,
however, was found to be problematic as it requires a guarantor, which is difficult for Palestine
refugees to come by given their precarious position in Lebanon.
Through a great deal of investment by UNRWA and its donors, the Agency has an increased
understanding of the breadth and depth of poverty. It is estimated that 1.5 million Palestine refugees
live in absolute poverty in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon, with 700,000 of these in abject
poverty; they are unable to meet their basic food needs. With this improved understanding of the
scale of poverty among Palestine refugees, RSSP is proposing to reform its programme and dedicate
itself more fully to alleviating poverty.
To this end, RSSP seeks assistance in evaluating the MCSP as it currently stands and to determine if
it is feasible for MCSP to become a microfinance programme for the poor.
Specifically, RSSP seeks recommendations and analysis in order to answer the following questions:
What differential impacts has MCSP had on poor and non-poor refugee clients; both positive
and negative, intended and unintended?
How do the MCSP products and loan portfolio quality compare against best practices for
Is microfinance recommended as an effective intervention to alleviate Palestine refugees’
poverty considering the context of each field of operation?
If microfinance is recommended, what would the RSSP need to do to re-design the current
MCSP so that it (a) meets intended outcomes, (b) adheres to best practices, and (c) offers
products not already available from MFIs or other institutions?
Is it economically feasible for RSSP to run a microfinance programme that impacts poor
Palestine refugees in light of the current resource base?
While UNRWA specifically seeks an evaluation that will answer the foregoing questions, applicants
are invited to propose additional areas of investigation in their application.
The methodology proposed by the consultant needs to be sufficiently rigorous so that UNRWA is able
to make decisions based upon the final report. To determine the impact of the MCSP on poor and
non-poor clients, UNRWA is interested in a mixed methods approach, however experimental designs
(e.g. randomized control trials) and control groups are unnecessary, given the stage of programme
implementation and constraints on time.
DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The following products should result from the evaluation:
Theory of change for each field where MCSP operates;
Final report including proposed theory of change for the MCSP going forward, if
microfinance is indeed recommended.
Debriefings with key stakeholders of the MCSP should be conducted in each field before the
consultant’s departure and at HQ Amman before departing the region.
ESSENTIAL QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE
Advanced degree in a relevant field;
Development specialist with minimum 10 years demonstrable experience in the design,
implementation and evaluation of programmes to lift the poor, or similar groups, out of poverty;
Direct experience with the design, implementation and evaluation of microfinance programmes for
Fluency in written and spoken English.
Professional experience in the Middle East and knowledge of Arabic language.
CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
The duration of the consultancy will be 50 working days. Expected date of completion is 15 October
2012, taking into consideration the month of Ramadan and the Eid holiday, expected to fall around 20
July – 24 August. UNRWA is open to the idea of the work taking place in two phases: one part before
the month of Ramadan and one part with resumption and completion after Ramadan. The incumbent
will be based in Amman, Jordan and is expected to travel to UNRWA’s areas of operation with the
exclusion of Syria. The incumbent will be required to obtain the required visas for travel with UNRWA
only assisting in support letters to the respective embassies.
The total remuneration for completion of the consultancy is US$ 50,000.
Applicants should submit a cover letter and CV or UN Personal History Form, in addition to the
following documents and are requested to adhere to a 15 page maximum limit (10 point font) for all
documents to be submitted via email@example.com clearly indicating the title of the vacancy
“External Evaluation of the Microcredit Community Support Programme” in the subject line of
the message. The deadline for the submission of applications is 17June 2012:
The proposal should include:
Proposed work plan which shows proposed tasks, their time requirements and sequencing in
relation to other tasks;
References and evidence of past performance.
UNRWA is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes applications from both women and men.
UNRWA encourages applications from qualified and experienced female candidates. Only those
applicants short-listed for interview will be contacted. UNRWA is a non-smoking environment.