Meta Study of Existing WSS Research
Home-Based / Remote
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Not Specified


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  1. requests proposals from research and evaluation firms to conduct a meta-analysis of its existing evidence base and synthesize it across several key thematic areas in the Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) sector, also drawing from relevant academic and practitioner literature within the thematic areas listed below.
  2. The research project will require the firm to facilitate and coordinate with staff, along with other stakeholders as needed, to collect qualitative and quantitative data. The project requires the party to submit the deliverables listed in Section 3A.

It is anticipated that this research project would involve extensive collaboration between and the Consultant.

  1. The selected firm should bring:
  • Water supply and sanitation background. Relevant background within one or more of the thematic areas would in addition be welcome.
  • The ability to generate and synthesize findings from academic and practitioner literature reviews and implemented interventions
  • Expertise in qualitative research design, methodology, and analysis
  1. is not liable for any expenditure incurred by responding firms prior to issuance of an executed contract with
  2. Submissions must be typed and submitted only by email and must follow the format of the requests for information in Section 4: Submissions Requirements. Unless agreed upon with, no changes or corrections to a response will be allowed after the deadline.
  3. The assignment is expected to occur from April 18th – September 30th 2021
  4. The proposals must be submitted by email to Heather Arney at and Katrina Green by April 2, 2021, at 5:00 PM Central Standard Time. Subject line should read “ Meta Study <<name of bidding firm>>.” The proposal must contain a technical proposal and a financial bid using’s budgeting format and should not exceed $85,000 USD.


  1. Background

For 30 years, has been at the forefront of developing and delivering sustainable solutions to the global water and sanitation crisis. pioneers innovative, community-driven and market-based solutions to provide universal access to safe water and sanitation.  To date, has positively transformed millions of lives around the world, ensuring a better life for generations ahead.

Through its flagship WaterCredit model, provides financial and technical assistance to local institutions (primarily microfinance institutions but increasingly utilities), building their capacity to offer affordable financing (aka credit) for water supply and sanitation services (WSS) to customers at the base of the economic pyramid (BOP). Philanthropic resources cover the cost of the up-front technical assistance, including Research and Development (R&D) that institutions need to develop these new water and sanitation loan portfolios. The result: more people empowered with safe water and toilets and a sustainable, local market built for those at the BOP. WaterCredit has reached more than 35 million people across 13 countries through 7.8 million microloans. More details can be found on the organization’s website.

As part of its programming, is committed to a rigorous monitoring, evaluation, and learning process.  Its processes are grounded in the organization’s theory of change and measurement frameworks. uses a variety of methods to build an evidence base about its programming include monitoring practices and research. More information can be found here proposes a meta study to examine the organization’s existing evidence base and synthesize it across several key themes. These themes will be finalized with the selected firm but may include: 1. women’s empowerment and equity, 2. household finances, 3. climate change, 4. WSS financing as an accelerator to access, 5. health & safety. The study will also identify and prioritize gaps within the existing evidence base, which will provide a basis for future research, evaluation, and learning strategies. The study will incorporate key conclusive and inconclusive findings, gaps, and exploratory areas emerging from secondary reviews of academic and practitioner literature.

  1. Aim & objectives of the research

The aim of the meta study will be two-fold: 

  1. To organize, synthesize and translate the evidence base into meaningful insights that compel action across donor and sector stakeholders, and  
  2. To inform’s future research and learning agenda by identifying key evidence gaps where additional insights and research are needed.  

The meta-study will achieve the following objectives:

  • Review and further refine theory of changes and hypotheses across the thematic areas
  • Establish a thematic body of knowledge that includes’s evidence base, as well as supporting secondary data. This includes testing the hypotheses under each theme.
  • Identify priority gaps that will advance’s research agenda in the next 5 years, as well as inform its operational strategy, and provide recommendations for further action.
  • Position insights from evidence so they are able to be easily incorporated into communications that could be to tailored to various target audiences.
  • Provide with compelling and actionable insights that will support revenue and impact efforts.
  1. Proposed questions

Questions examined during the evaluation include, but are not limited to:

  • What evidence does have across these thematic areas and their associated hypotheses; What is the relevance of this evidence within the broader WSS sector?
  • To what degree does secondary evidence exist to support the thematic areas and their associated hypotheses?
  • How does increased access to water and sanitation through financing uniquely impact (positively or negatively) each of the respective thematic areas? 
  • What are the implications of these insights for in terms of its communications and messaging, program design, and areas for future exploration and research?
  1. Data and methods

A mixed-methods approach will be used to gather relevant data. The majority of data collected will be qualitative, however some quantitative data will be utilized to better understand’s impact through the lens of the thematic areas. Methods would include:

  1. Kick-off workshop with
  2. Regular working sessions with
  3. Interviews with staff
  4. Review of’s theory of change and hypotheses that are to be tested within the study
  5. External literature review
  • To include a review existing studies, reports, and secondary data from others working in the WSS sector, as well as those who focus exclusively on the selected thematic areas.  
  1. Desk review of existing research evaluations, programmatic information, and data to include:
  • Quantitative analysis of borrower information collected through the mWater platform
  • Quantitative analysis of data collected through’s customized MIS system, WaterPortal
  • Review of program evaluations, baseline/endline studies, internal resources, and research studies. This includes resources such as:
  • Strategic documents, quarterly impact reports, and program documentation (progress reports and donor reporting), as relevant
  • Women’s Empowerment in Water, Sanitation & Hygiene – an analysis of water supply and sanitation (WSS) financing and women’s empowerment
  • Climate Change: Water Supply and Sanitation Financing – an analysis of the relationship between climate change and water supply and sanitation (WSS) systems.
  • WSS Loans and Household Economic Well-Being – an analysis of the relationship between availing loans to improve household WSS and economic outcomes, such as household income and expenditures
  • WaterCredit Sustainability Study – an assessment of the sustainability among current and former partners


  1. Proposed Deliverables

The selected firm will use the research to provide the following deliverables (to be finalized with the selected firm):

  • Theory of change and hypotheses for each theme (if refinements are completed)
  • Inception report that outlines the approach or framework to be taken across the themes
  • Final report synthesizing literature review and relevant data
  • White paper summarizing findings and their relevance within the context of the WSS sector
  • Recommendations to help inform’s future research and knowledge priorities, as well as implications of the findings for’s communications and messaging, programming, and thought leadership strategies
  • Excel database of statistics and figures from the literature review, sorted by country, year, topic area, and key points; along with instructions on how can keep this list updated in the future
  1. Key Dates

We anticipate that this assignment will take approximately twenty-four weeks. The assignment is expected to begin on April 18th, 2021. All final deliverables will be due on September 30, 2021.

  • April 2nd: Proposals due
  • April 16th: Contract signed
  • April 18th: Assignment begins
  • August 31st: Share draft with to review
  • September 30tht: Final deliverables due


To be considered under this RFP, please submit the following:

  1. Technical Proposal

A narrative proposal (no more than 8 pages excluding annexes) should include the following sections:

  1. Methodology: Describe your overall approach and methodology including, and not limited to, research questions, research design, and data collection.
  2. Relevant Experience: Provide details of projects of similar scope, complexity and nature you have worked on previously.
  3. Specific Expertise: Describe your level of knowledge and expertise specific to the Water Supply and Sanitation sector and financing, as applicable. Also describe your expertise specific to conducting literature reviews and data syntheses. Finally, please highlight any relevant areas of knowledge and expertise pertaining to the sample thematic areas noted above.
  4. Key Personnel and Staffing: Describe the key personnel and a staffing plan for the project. Include CVs (no more than 2 pages each and attached as annex) of key personnel who would be part of the proposed plan.
  5. Timeline: Include a detailed timeline of key activities.


  1. Financial proposal

The financial proposal should include a detailed budget and a budget narrative. Please use the attached excel budget workbook to prepare and submit the budget. The proposed budget should be inclusive of any and all taxes and should not exceed $85,000 USD. 


Applicants may be individuals, groups of individuals with a designated team lead, or firms. Applicants must have at a minimum the following qualifications:

  • Proposed staffing plan includes at least one native or fluent English speaker as lead writer.
  • Demonstrated experience in conducting literature reviews.
  • Demonstrated relevant experience and familiarity with the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector. Relevant background within one or more of the thematic areas would be welcome.
  • Expertise in quantitative research design, methodology, and analysis.


All proposals submitted by the deadline will be carefully reviewed by the Selection Committee based on established selection criteria. The selection process may involve phone interviews with applicants. The final decision will be based on the overall quality of the technical proposal and value for money. The Selection Committee reserves the right to reject any or may cancel any submission at any time prior to agreement if it is in the best interests of


Proposals and queries related to the RFP should be sent through email to:

Heather Arney

Senior Manager - Insights and Innovation


Katrina Green

Senior Analyst - Insights and Innovation