Consultant to develop a WASH Strategy for IRC Sierra Leone

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Freetown, Sierra Leone 🇸🇱

Requisition ID: req37008

Job Title: Consultant to develop a WASH Strategy for IRC Sierra Leone

Sector: Health

Employment Category: Consultant

Employment Type: Part-Time

Open to Expatriates: Yes

Location: Sierra Leone

Job Description

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, IRC offers life-saving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. At work today in more than 40 countries and 22 U.S. cities, IRC restores safety, dignity and hope to millions of people uprooted by conflict or disaster. IRC leads the way from harm to home.

The IRC began emergency operations in Sierra Leone in 1998 during the civil war. In the post-conflict reconstruction period, the IRC consolidated its operations into three core programmatic areas: health, education, and women’s protection and empowerment. In addition, the IRC leads consortia in education and health working with 8 partners at national scale. The IRC has offices in Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Kailahun, and Kono Districts but implements programs in many other districts through partners and one of its consortium projects is implemented in all the sixteen districts in the country. The IRC is implementing projects in Health, Education and Women and Girls Protection and Empowerment (WPGE) across the country and is planning to introduce Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programming to its portfolio.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene are essential environmental determinants of health and well-being. Providing safe WASH services and adequate waste management is essential to ensuring the delivery of high-quality health care, community well-being and preventing infections. The WASH sector is also among the sectors that employ many people and creates new livelihood opportunities for vulnerable groups.

Sierra Leone’s health system has not yet fully recovered from the effects of the decade-long civil war, the Ebola epidemic, the COVID-19 pandemic; and other outbreaks such as measles, and cholera, among others. Despite investments in WASH during previous and current epidemics, the country still struggles with WASH infrastructure. The disease burden, due to poor hygiene practices, is extremely high. The country’s economic growth fluctuated from 4.6% in 2014 to 2.1% in 2015, and to 4.7% in 2020, and the country is still one of the poorest in the world. Poverty has a negative impact on the already weak health system and remote rural areas and marginalized communities are particularly prone to related shocks. The climate patterns in Sierra Leone have changed: average temperatures have increased by 0.8°C, and annual rainfall has varied. Between 2011 and 2018, Sierra Leone lost 151,873 hectares of tree cover and this has increased the levels of flooding across the country. It also led to increased soil erosion which not only affects the local population, but also downstream populations where soil deposits are built up. 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) conducted a WASH assessment in five districts including Bo, Kenema, Kailahun, Kono and Pujehun. The assessment covered the policy and strategy document review for WASH and provided an overview of WASH at the country level, in addition to specific findings for each of the five districts assessed.

Although the country reports an increase in access to basic (safely managed and basic) water sources from 59 per cent (2015) to 64 per cent (JMP, 2020), the disparities in rural and urban water are still high, estimated at 53 per cent and 79 per cent respectively. There is also high inequality in water supply in planned and unplanned settlements and poor quantile in urban areas. Many existing water systems are not functional. Out of the existing improved water sources, an estimated 28 – 30 per cent are not functional due breakdowns. Water contamination is also a serious concern where 85% of drinking water from improved water sources is contaminated with E. coli. Big cities like Freetown records high water rationing due to increase of the population of Freetown that is not proportional to the capacity of the dam. At the time of construction of the dam (1950s-60s) it was designed to serve around 500,000 and now the population is more than 1.2 million people. Freetown’s water distribution network has also significant leakages, resulting unacceptably in high rates of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) estimated at 56.5% during dry weather and 57.8% during wet weather periods.

Even though Sierra Leone‘s open defecation rate reduced from 26% in 2000 to 16% in 2020 it is still high. The portion of the population using unimproved sanitation is also still high (29%). Moreover, only 16% of Sierra Leone‘s population have access to at least safely managed and basic sanitation and 38% have limited sanitation. The majority (48%) of those with access to sanitation uses latrines while a limited number of the population use septic tank (6%) and only 1% in the cities have access to the sewer system.  In Freetown, an estimated 336,440 m3 of faecal sludge is generated annually by households in planned and unplanned dwellings, public toilets and businesses and institutions. Only 21% of generated sludge reaches and is treated at a faecal sludge treatment plant located at Kingtom which is the only one in Sierra Leone. The remaining 78% is disposed of by being buried onsite following manual emptying without transport to a designated treatment facility or discharged in waterways or the ocean without further treatment. Limited road accessibility deprives over half of Freetown‘s population of access to mechanized emptying technologies.

According to a study in 2019 by UNICEF, there is a massive need for WASH support in healthcare facilities. Despite the efforts of many actors, including the government, many wells in healthcare facilities are not functional. The same assessment revealed that only 36% have functional water supply systems and 49% have hand washing facilities with water and soap at all points of care. While the need to increase access to water, sanitation and hygiene in communities, schools, and healthcare facilities, across the five district remains necessary, the issue of water point efficiency is very urgent for schools and healthcare facilities. For the majority of schools and all HCFs, the water point efficiency was below the minimum standard of at least 15 liters per student per day (UNICEF) and 5 liters per out-patient and 40-60 liters per in-patient/day (WHO). It was also evidenced that the functionality of sanitation was very low. There is evidence that social behavior change programs focus on increasing access to sanitation facilities, but little emphasis is made on monitoring the use of attained facilities. Many HCFs do not have a reticulation system which is a disincentive to improving hand hygiene. Health facilities and schools do not have disability-friendly WASH facilities.

The purpose of this assignment is to develop an IRC WASH Strategy that will guide the organization’s approach to WASH programming for the next five years. This is part of the IRC’s strategic action plan and is related to the organization’s WASH objective namely “People have access to water, sanitation and hygiene and live enhanced environment”.

The overall objective of this assignment is to develop the IRC WASH strategy that will guide the development and implementation of WASH interventions for IRC in Sierra Leone for the next five years. The assignment will have the following specific objectives:
Identify key WASH constraints and challenges preventing different categories of people in Sierra Leone to have access to clean water, improved sanitation, and hygiene.
Propose strategies to address key WASH challenges while focusing on addressing localization, girls’ and women’s needs, social inclusion.
Develop a strategic implementation plan and a detailed monitoring, evaluation and learning framework with milestones.

This assignment will involve a literature search and review, consultative meetings, and validation meeting. No active data collection is expected. The assignment will be done in three phases:
Phase one: The inception phase will involve meetings with IRC to discuss and agree on methodology and approach, the strategy structure and components, preliminary presentation of the issues to be addressed from the WASH assessment and other relevant documents, workplan/timeline. The deliverable for phase one will be an approved inception report.
Phase two: After the inception phase, the next step will involve a thorough review of literature, context analysis, strategy development, presentation of different scenarios to the IRC, consultative meeting with the IRC, etc. The deliverable for this phased will be a draft strategy document with proposed strategic alternatives, goals and strategic objectives, success statements, and milestones/scenarios.
Phase three: Upon approval of the draft strategy document, phase three will involve development of an implementation plan and a clear MEAL framework building on Strategic Goals and Objectives. This will also involve consultative meetings with the IRC as needed.

The consultant will be responsible for the following deliverables:
Approved InceptionReport.
Draft WASH Strategy for IRC Sierra Leone.
Implementation plan and MEAL Framework.

The IRC will be responsible for the following:
Providing background documentation on the IRC’s vision, mission, and values, and specifically for WASH.
Providing final report on IRC’s global WASH assessment. the approved for the completed WASH assessment
Providing technical guidance and support during the assignment

The IRC invites interested individuals or consultancy firms to submit proposals to conduct this assignment. The proposals should include a technical proposal (with the consultant’s profile, their understanding of the assignment; a detailed description of the methodology they intend to use; the draft structure of the final document, and any other relevant sections). The Consultant should also submit a financial proposal, with daily rates. 


The successful consultant will be expected to demonstrate:
Advanced degree in Environmental Health or related field.
Experience in WASH programming in Sierra Leone
Experience in strategy planning and development, particularly for WASH.
Detailed knowledge of, and experience in, WASH issues with a focus on sustainability and integration of WASH into health systems specifically in low- and middle-income communities.
Strong analytical and communication skills.
Ability to mobilize in-country WASH sector partners and stakeholders in Sierra Leone.


Treatment of Information and Confidentiality
All data and information received for the purpose of this assignment is to be treated confidentially and is only to be used in connection with the execution of these terms of reference. All intellectual property rights arising from the execution of these terms of reference are assigned to the IRC. The contents of written material obtained and used in this assignment may not be disclosed to any third parties without the expressed advance written authorization of the IRC.

Key Working Relationships
The Consultant will liaise directly with, and get support from, the Senior Health Coordinator based in Freetown and/or the IPC/WASH Specialist based in Bo District.
Code of Conduct and Ethics
The Consultant is expected to abide by the IRC code of conduct for suppliers, as well as evaluation principles of independence, transparency, quality, utility including IRC Way principles. The consultant is also expected to follow national rules and regulations on research and ethics in Sierra Leone.

Duty of Care
The Consultant is responsible for the safety and well-being of their Personnel and Third Parties affected by the activities under this contract, including appropriate security arrangements. The IRC will share available information with the Consultant on security status of the country, as needed, but is not responsible for the safety and well-being of the consultant and their personnel.

The IRC is an Equal Opportunities Employer and considers all applicants based on merit without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability.





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