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Physical Verification and Capacity Audit of Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and Village Savings and Loans Federations (VSLFs) in Adamawa and Kebbi States,Nigeria-August 2020

Physical Verification and Capacity Audit of Village Savings & Loans Associations (VSLAs) and Village Savings & Loans Federations (VSLFs) in Adamawa and Kebbi States.

Consultancy Terms of Reference

Introduction

Oxfam is an international confederation of 19 organizations working in over 95 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice around the world. Each organization (affiliate) works together internationally to achieve a greater impact through collective efforts. Oxfam’s stated goal is to ensure vulnerable people’s needs are met (saving lives and ensuring sustainable livelihoods), transform attitudes about women’s rights and supporting more active citizenship and a more accountable state and private sector. By adopting a rights-based approach and in solidarity with communities, Oxfam work with partners, public and private sector institutions to achieve a fairer economy with increases in incomes for the poorest and more effective support to those affected by crisis; and to change public attitudes so the rights of women are respected, to achieve a more accountable state and private sector institutions; and a stronger civil society in which women and men know and can claim their rights.

Oxfam, in partnership with Christian Rural & Urban Development Association (CRUDAN) and Development Exchange Centre (DEC), is implementing a 60 month Project funded by the European Union and Oxfam in Adamawa and Kebbi States of northern Nigeria. The Project is called “European Union Support to Food Security and Resilience in northern Nigeria (PROACT)”, and is being implemented across more than 70 rural communities in & 7 LGAs of the two States (4 LGAs in Adamawa and 3 LGAs in Kebbi).

PROACT has been strengthening the capacities of over 60,000 households who rely on agriculture and natural resource-based livelihoods through best practice knowledge transfer, household/productive assets accumulation, financial inclusion services, linkages to efficient market systems, climate change adaptation, and social safety programs among others. There has been evidences of increase in productivity and improved wellbeing among the beneficiaries in the 70 rural communities. PROACT intervention has contributed to an improved food security situation across the communities as more food are produced for household consumption and for enhanced household income generation. Now in its fifth year of implementation, PROACT has demonstrated that resilience programming targeted at rural populations should be multi-dimensional and comprehensive enough to stimulate far reaching change process for vulnerable households.

The overall objective of PROACT is to improve food/nutrition security and resilience of vulnerable households in disaster and conflicts affected communities in Adamawa and Kebbi States of northern Nigeria. Its specific objectives are:

  1. Rapid improvement in livelihoods, food security and early recovery for targeted vulnerable farmers and host communities including women and youth in Adamawa and Kebbi States;
  2. Strengthened resilience, preparedness towards risks and natural resource utilisation for targeted vulnerable small holder farming communities in Adamawa and Kebbi States.
  3. Improved strategic linkages for food security and nutrition, and support to local market systems in each State.
  4. Improved response capacity of government towards social protection, early warning systems and strengthened local frameworks towards resilience building.

Justification for Physical Verification and Capacity Audit of Village Savings & Loans Associations (VSLAs)

Apart from being an innovative rural financial inclusion strategy, the Village Savings and Loan Methodology is the fundamental model of the PROACT project. The methodology effectively served as the Project’s community entry and mobilization strategy, and as well continues to be the foundation upon which every other intervention / support components of the Project are implemented. For instance, components of the PROACT project like the cost-recovery based agricultural input support, the climate change adaptation / mitigation support, farmers training field schools support, women economic empowerment programs and others are facilitated using the VSLAs structures. These structures were formed, organized and supervised by PROACT Field Officers who are responsible for training and supervising the groups for a minimum of ten months, which is a cycle, till they become self-managing.

As VSLAs mature, they become self-supervisory and capably transformed into Economic Interest Groups (EIGs) and Input Market Associations (IMAs). Also, these VSLAs which were formed by hitherto vulnerable farming households were further consolidated by the PROACT project as confederates of some VSL Federations. So, while in a VSLA we could have 15-25 self-selected members, VSLFs have between 5 – 10 self-selected VSLAs engaging in the business of savings, credits, and other economic activities agreed by members. VSLFs are apex-like institutions that manage savings, make loans and provide insurance to the member VSLAs. To do this VSLFs do not run on cycles for share-outs like in VSLAs, but may share profits as dividends during annual general meetings.

No doubt, the quality and performance of VSLAs and VSLFs will largely determine, not only the community-level sustainability of the savings associations, but also, the sustainability of every other interventions of the PROACT project after exit. The VSLAs and VSLFs are also becoming structures for the facilitation of community-level governance and active citizenship pillars which are considered strategic to the sustainability of the PROACT Project. It becomes expedient therefore that the reported numbers of the VSLAs and VSLFs be physically verified, and their capacities audited in terms of adherence to the VSL methodology in the conduct of their businesses and the quality of individuals emerging from these associations as Village Agents. This physical verification and capacity audit exercise for the VSLAs and VSLFs is an important activity included in the exit strategy of the VSL Scheme under the PROACT Project.

Scope and Objectives of Consultancy

The implementing partners of the PROACT project, Development Exchange Center (DEC) and Christian Rural and Urban Development Association of Nigeria (CRUDAN), have created a total of 69 VSLFs and 2288 VSLAs under the VSL Methodology. The breakdown consists of 33 VSLFs and 966 VSLAs (23,509 members) in Kebbi State, and 36 VSLFs and 1322 VSLAs (31,682 members) in Adamawa State. PROACT is being implemented in 3 LGAs in Kebbi State and 4 LGAs in Adamawa State. Each PROACT LGA has 10 communities in which PROACT VSLAs are existing and operational. Additionally, there are presently over 150 VSLAs in other LGAs where government is replicating the VSL model.

Objectives of this consultancy are;

· To conduct a physical verification of the VSLAs and VSLFs both under the PROACT project and Government Replication Action for the communities and LGAs of operation in Kebbi and Adamawa states.

· To audit the capacity and performance of the VSLAs and VSLFs both under the PROACT project and Government Replication Action for the communities and LGAs of operation using VSL Methodology Standards in Kebbi and Adamawa states.

· To assess the sustainability perception of the PROACT VSL actions- the VSLAs and VSLFs in Kebbi and Adamawa states.

· To facilitate the process of updating the MIS with correct data so that reported data on the MIS reflects the exact status of what is happening on the ground.

· To identify capacity gaps of the VSLAs/VSLFs that will help in developing re-training modules for Village Agents, Field Officers, and other relevant stakeholders.

· To assess potential opportunities to be explored in order to facilitate the linkage of the VSLAs/VSLFs to market opportunities and mainstream organizations and systems.

· To assess gender differentiated relevance of the VSL scheme using perception indices.

Findings from this exercise will help in correcting errors of data entry regularly noticed on the VSL Savix MIS platform, closing capacity gaps of the associations and reinforce the knowledge of Village Agents and Field Officers for continuity as the project prepares to close. The exercise will also deepen the confidence of the project team about VSL reports.

Research Methodology

The Consultant will;

i. Conduct a census: Independent physical verification exercise to confirm the total number of VSLAs and VSLFs in operation in the two (2) States across the LGAs and Communities (in operation means that the regular meetings are up-to-date). Specifically, the Consultant will ascertain;

  • The names of the VSLAs/VSLFs;
  • Names and phone contacts of Chairpersons and Record Keepers;
  • Name of Supervising Field Officer;
  • Location/meeting venue of the VSLAs/VSLFs;
  • Date of creation;
  • Cycle of Operation

ii. Conduct Group Observations and Participants Interview as a way of assessing their capacities and understanding of the methodology: Here, the consultant will elicit information that will aid the auditing of the quality and performance of the VSLAs/ VSLFs. To do this, the Consultant will review the VSL Methodology Standards and deploy structured questionnaires to capture the indicators of quality and efficiency such as:

· Savings level;

· Quality of record keeping;

· Leadership quality and their effectiveness including gender differentiation;

· Quality of loans management;

· Social Fund management;

· Conduct at meetings, disciplines and adherence to constitutional provisions;

· Field Officers’ commitment to the VSLAs/ VSLFs;

· Quality of Village Agents from the groups;

· Innovative practices by the VSLAs/VSLFs, etc.

iii. Focus Group Discussion: To set up discussion around the sustainability of the VSLA project action and elicit the perception of the VSLA/VSLF stakeholders on the scale, replication and continuity of the Project VSLA. The sampling of participants for the FDG will be purposive and the sampling frame will consist of VSLAs/VSLFs members, community leaders, Community based organizations, some critical Local Government Officials, etc.

iv. Following Method II above, a Comparative analysis of the qualities and performance of VSLAs/VSLFs facilitated directly by PROACT Staff, on one hand, and those facilitated by government staff under the replication schemes, on the other hand, will be conducted.

v. Group data and information update using relevant data collection tools designed for VSLAs and VSLFs. To do this, the Consultant will provide a comparable MIS to be contrasted with the information already existing on the Project’s SAVIX MIS for the VSLAs/VSLFs with the findings from data collection.

Deliverables

  • Inception report.
  • First draft report and Final Report detailing, at least, the cover page, table of contents, executive summary, introduction, scope, methodology, findings and recommendations, etc.
  • Summary Presentation Slides.
  • Data collected (raw and clean).
  • The Data Collection Tools.
  • Submission of hard and electronic copies (in accessible format) of materials, data collected / analyzed and other documents.

Profile of the Consultant

The Physical Verification and Capacity Audit of Village Savings & Loans Associations (VSLAs) and Village Savings & Loans Federations (VSLFs) in Adamawa and Kebbi States will be conducted by an independent consultant who will work in close collaboration with the PROACT Project Management Team and partner organizations. The Consultant must have multi-disciplinary expertise with hands-on experience in VSL Methodology and innovative rural financing.

Required Expertise: (Only Consultants resident in Nigeria should apply)

o Degree in Social Science, Development Studies, Rural Sociology, Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Extension , Gender Studies and other related fields.

o Verifiable evidence of training on VSL Methodology.

o Proven senior-level evaluation and survey experience (at least 5 years) including knowledge of evaluation and survey methodologies.

o A demonstrated track record of carrying out similar type of assessments in remote communities and fragile areas.

o Ability to provide strategic recommendations to key stakeholders.

o Excellent interpersonal and communication skills including ability to facilitate and work in a multidisciplinary team.

o Strong analytical skills and ability to clearly synthesize and present findings.

o Ability to draw practical conclusions and to prepare well‐written reports in a timely manner.

o Familiarity with Oxfam’s Village Saving and Loan Methodology and Standards as well as community development approaches.

o Ability to interact with host government, partners and/or others as requested by Oxfam .

o Strong organizational, analytical and reporting skills, presentation skills, attention to detail, ability to meet deadlines, and proficiency in Microsoft Office and qualitative data analysis software/tools.

o Ability to relate and communicate in local language (Hausa) is essential.

The tentative schedule can be accessed from:

https://oxfam.app.box.com/s/o7nscrcmjtx3di7r84n5ju2wxc0c3udn

The PROACT team will:

  • Monitor and assess the quality of the exercise;
  • Provide guidance and institutional support to the external consultant;
  • Facilitate the consultant’s access to key stakeholders and specific information or expertise needed to perform the assessment;
  • Ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed;
  • Review and approve inception report of field work;
  • Review and approve data collection tools before field work;
  • Approve the final report.

All products related to this consultancy shall be submitted to PROACT Project Management Team at the end of the assignment and upon approval of the final report.

How to apply

Application

o A cover letter introducing the consultant/firm and its team composition and specifying the role to be played by each team member.

o A technical proposal of not more than 5 pages outlining how to execute the task with a clear framework, methodology and timelines. Proposed methodology should demonstrate clear understanding of the ToR (sampling framework, data collection strategy/methods

o Proposed methodology should demonstrate clear understanding of the ToR (sampling framework, data collection strategy and analytical methods);

o CV(s) of consultant(s) who will undertake the study, including full name, physical addresses, telephone number(s);

o References of two or three previous clients;

o Evidence of previous similar assignments successfully undertaken;

o Proposed budget indicating clearly consultant’s fees and all logistical costs in local currency (NGN). Please NOTE that all logistical needs for this assignment will be borne by the Consultant and should be included in the financial proposal.

Interested and qualified consultants who meet the qualification and experience outlined should download the RFQ package from OXFAM website: from https://nigeria.oxfam.org/get-involved-work-us/procurement-consultancy

Questions:

All enquiries should be addressed to ngaoxfamvendors@oxfam.org on or before 5th August 2020. Responses would be provide with COB of 6th August 2020.

Submission:

Completed technical, financial proposal and Request for quotation form (RFQ) should be sent to nga.bid@oxfam.org on or before 13th August 2020, referencing REQ1779 ABV/001 and the title in the subject of the email.

Submission email: nga.bid@oxfam.org

Deadline of submission: 13th August 2020

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