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Expert in Research, Humanitarian Programming, Accountability

Research on Accountability to Affected Populations in Cash Transfer Programming in Lebanon

  1. Rationale for the Research

Accountability – to beneficiaries and others in affected communities – is a key element in achieving quality in the design and delivery of humanitarian programming. However, to date it has perhaps received less emphasis in discussions on cash assistance than other components of quality – specifically efficiency and effectiveness.

Over the past 5 years, the provision of cash assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon has transitioned from being multi-agency, with an array of objectives and approaches, to a more joined up endeavour with the purpose of having a more coherent, cost-effective and accountable system. This has led donors to concentrate funding for multi-purpose cash into two UN agencies (WFP and UNHCR) and to support the creation of the LOUISE (Lebanon One Unified Inter-Organizational System for E-cards) platform, a consortium of mostly UN cash agencies – UNHCR, WFP, and UNICEF. Created in 2016, LOUISE allowed for a harmonised system of targeting and financial practices as well as common standards towards accountability to affected populations (AAP), such as the development of a common hotline. These changes should benefit recipients by offering greater convenience (one card, one hotline), transparency (one targeting system) and overall quality programming (common approaches).

 While much of this has been achieved, questions and feedback continue to be heard by NGOs in the field from beneficiaries around lack of clarity regarding targeting and eligibility criteria, reasons for losing assistance, difficulties in having cards reissued, and getting the necessary information from on the helpline. Field staff have observed that this has led to frustration and confusion by beneficiaries and those who are excluded. To date, no effort has been made to collate this data to look for trends or to see if it is anecdotal. Overall, one result of this operational model being put into practice is the relative lack of human interaction between implementing agencies and beneficiaries and their communities.

 Delivering humanitarian assistance on a long-term basis at the scale being undertaken in Lebanon requires changes in standard approaches to AAP – including more robust feedback and communications mechanisms – as compared to what may have ‘traditionally’ been the case when there has been greater interaction and engagement with the community. At the same time, it’s essential that accountability systems can fulfil their intended objectives.

 The innovations that are being undertaken in cash assistance in Lebanon provide an important opportunity to analyse how large-scale operations approach accountability, utilise technology, and partner with the private sector. This will also include examination of what can be learned in terms of the feasibility, trade-offs and potential improvements of such a system. This research will look deeper into the accountability issues highlighted above and will make recommendations to the Steering Committee (donors and WFP), the Basic Assistance sector and other cash actors on how current and future large- scale cash programmes can improve their accountability to the populations they serve. 

 CaLP’s Operational Model’s Analytical Framework identifies a range of key accountability drivers of programme quality, which can help to provide a lens for analysis:

  • Appropriateness of assistance/beneficiary preferences
  • Empowering communities/resilience to future shocks
  • Use of CRM (Complaints Response Mechanisms) & feedback systems/beneficiary satisfaction
  • Adherence to protection & do no harm principles
  • Communication & community participation
  • Transparency

Of the six drivers of quality identified by the model, three have been identified as the primary units of analysis and inform the research questions outlined below: (1) use of Complaints and Response Mechanism (CRM), (2) protection mainstreaming and do no harm, and (3) communication and community participation. The other aspects will be explored as relevant.

 Three main research questions and associated areas of investigation have been identified, as follows:

  1. Through the lens of WFP, how does a large-scale multi-purpose cash assistance programme deliver accountability to the crisis-affected population?
  • What feedback and complaints mechanisms are in place?
  • How do the feedback mechanisms work in practice? How are they accessed and used by beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries? How responsive are they to complaints?
  • What is the level of beneficiary satisfaction with feedback, complaints and other accountability mechanisms? Options for investigation include accessibility of cash assistance, reactivity, and timeliness.
  • What mechanisms are in place to communicate with affected populations?
  • How is information dissemination targeted to reach different groups, linked to questions of access and non-discrimination?
  • Are beneficiaries satisfied with communication mechanisms and information dissemination?
  • What mechanisms exist for community engagement? How do these work in practice?
  • What roles and responsibilities does WFP play with respect to accountability, including in the context of the LOUISE platform?
  • What aspects of the context impact accountability? How do these interact with the operational model for CTP delivery?
  1. How do the accountability mechanisms within the programme aim to deliver protection mainstreaming?
  • How on paper and in practice does the WFP cash assistance programme attempt to achieve high quality protection mainstreaming? Potentially, this may also look at do no harm principles, meaningful access and non-discrimination.
  • What specific challenges does the programme face in terms of protection mainstreaming? How are these mitigated or resolved in practice?
  • How does the scale and design of WFP’s cash assistance programme impact the quality of protection mainstreaming within the project?
  • How does the process of ceasing assistance affect the household’s ability to find sustainable alternative income?
  • How successful is the programme at meeting minimum standards of protection mainstreaming?
  1. How does accountability within WFP’s cash assistance programme in Lebanon compare to global benchmarks for accountability to affected populations?
  • How does the WFP Lebanon programme compare with other large-scale WFP MPCA programmes
  • What metrics are needed to systematically measure accountability in this context? What is existing best practice?
  • How does the cash response perform according to these metrics? How does this evolve through time if changes are introduced?
  • How accessible is the assistance to households with special needs? For example, female headed households, PLWSN and PLWD
  • Do communication mechanisms meet standards of clarity, accuracy and timeliness?
  • How well does the WFP programme meet Grand Bargain commitments and other standards for community participation and empowerment? What is the scope to improve?
  • What, if any, improvements are needed to deliver cash through a stronger and more locally-accountable system?
  • How does WFP ensure the data security and data protection of complainants’ personal information?

 Key Steps and Methodology

While it will be an output of this consultancy itself to develop a full and detailed methodology, the following steps are proposed to inform this and contribute to shaping the research and process:

  • Inception meetings with key stakeholders – to include CaLP, and relevant members of the CAMEALEON team (e.g. project and technical coordinators and research leads from ODI and American University of Beirut (AUB)), and members of the Protection and the Basic Assistance sectors
  • Review and refine (where necessary) and agree the study objectives, research questions and timeline/outline of the workplan
  • Identify accountability benchmarks and develop a related framework and metrics for analysis for evaluating the WFP multipurpose cash programme.
  • Conduct a desk review of accountability best practices, standards and approaches.
  • Examples of potential sources include: IASC Task Team to Affected Populations and Preventing Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (PSEA) guidance, CHS (2014) Core Humanitarian Standards on Quality and Accountability, CaLP (2017) Monitoring4CTP: Monitoring Guidance for CTP in Emergencies, ALNAP (2014) Closing the Loop – Practitioner guidance on effective feedback mechanisms in humanitarian contexts, Oxfam/ECB (2007) Impact Measurement and Accountability in Emergencies: The Good Enough Guide
  • Undertake supplementary consultations where required to inform the development of relevant benchmarks and the framework and metrics for analysis
  • Desk review of documents (e.g. guidelines, evaluations, existing research findings and analysis) for the WFP multipurpose cash assistance programme and other relevant contextual and programmatic materials. This should focus on the design and evaluation of accountability and communication mechanisms, although a broader understanding of the programme and context will also be essential.
  • To be complimented by qualitative primary data collection through key informant interviews to further explore issues of programme design and rationale as well as practice and its evolution.
  • Review and reference data and emerging findings from accompanying research under the CAMEALEON project, including AUB panel survey data which will incorporate questions to beneficiaries related to feedback mechanisms, communications and accountability and provide a solid base of quantitative data to help inform this research. Also reports from CAMEALEON field monitors, and WFP monitoring data and complaints and feedback logs from the helpline.    Essential profile of the consultants
    • Post-graduate qualification in a relevant discipline
    • Substantial experience leading humanitarian research, including development of methodologies and data collection tools, desk and field-based and participatory data collection, and data analysis
    • Proven track record of delivering high quality written work
    • Demonstrated experience and understanding of accountability to affected populations, and protection mainstreaming
    • Demonstrated experience understanding of humanitarian programming and cash transfer programming
    • Previous experience working in Lebanon and/or the wider Syria crisis response is desirable, but not essential
    • Knowledge and experience of the ways of working within the humanitarian system
    • Ability to communicate complex subject matter in an accessible manner and translate research findings into practical recommendations
    • Experience of working remotely and in-person with a diverse range of stakeholders, ensuring effective consultation and engagement is achieved
    • Fluency (written and oral) in English. Arabic language skills are of added-value, but not essential (translators will be arranged as necessary)
  • Application Procedures

    Applications are invited from suitably qualified and experienced consultants with the capacity to undertake the above activities. The consultant should submit a detailed proposal with the following components: 

  • Maximum of three pages outlining the Consultants’ understanding of the TOR and the proposed methodology to conduct the assignment, including techniques and tools to be used

  • A detailed activities schedule/work plan with time frame

  • A copy of the consultant’s CV (except for consultants on framework agreements with CaLP)

 Financial Proposal detailing the following:

Itemized consultant’s fees and costs - consultant should indicate professional rates and time input for each team member (where relevant)

Validity period of quotation

NB: The financial proposal does not apply to consultants on framework agreements with CaLP

Proposal Submissions:

Expressions of Interest (including technical and financial proposals) must be sent to consult@cashlearning.org by October 19th 2018.  Consultants may also be asked to submit a writing sample as part of the selection process.

Any additional clarifications on the consultancy should be addressed to Ruth McCormack (programmes@cashlearning.org)



Type of contract
fixed term
November - April 2018 (total 45 days)
home-based with travelling to Lebanon