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Work Type: Consultancy
Background/Purpose of Assignment
- It has been 36 months since the last case of wild polio virus in Nigeria, placing Nigeria on the verge of polio elimination in Nigeria. While still combating the spread of Vaccine-Derived Polio Virus (VDPV), Nigeria is expected to be certified as a polio-free country in 2020 along with other African countries, which will also make Africa polio-free. In partnership with Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, UNICEF has supported the Federal Government of Nigeria, as well as the state and local governments through various activities, including communication and social mobilisation efforts to make sure that the targeted communities support the polio eradication programme.
- The cornerstone of polio communication and social mobilisation strategy in Nigeria is the deployment of Volunteer Community Mobilisers (VCMs). UNICEF has helped Nigeria build a VCMs network consisting of community-based (mostly female) volunteers. Selected from their respective settlements, VCMs have been trained to work as "change agents" in the community and are responsible for house-to-house mobilisation for polio, routine immunisation and other child survival interventions.
- They identify missed children and non-compliant parents through a community-friendly approach. They also promote antenatal care and conduct micro-census to collect data on key health indicators from the communities. The VCMs work with the Religious Focal Persons (RFPs) who assist them with faith-based approach in dealing with the communities.
- There are currently around 16,650 VCMs in 12 states (Kano, Katsina, Borno, Kaduna, Yobe, Jigawa, Sokoto, Niger, Zamfara, Bauchi, Taraba and Kebbi), across 244 Local Government Areas (LGAs), 1,730 wards and approximately 17,000 settlements. They are supervised by Volunteer Ward Supervisors (VWS) who report to LGA Facilitators. At the state level, there are State Leads responsible for the entire VCMs network in the state. The entire VCM network comprising of VCMs, VWS, LGA Facilitators, and State Leads supported by UNICEF currently comprises of more than 18,500 people, serving about 4.7 million under-five children and a total of 22 million people.
- Providing support for the intense interpersonal communications fostered by the VCMs has been financially heavy. Communication and community mobilisation is one of the cost drivers in Nigeria's polio eradication programme. As Nigeria is becoming a polio-free country, the polio eradication programme and funding for Nigeria is expected to be reduced in coming years which is already endorsed. While VCM's role in polio eradication is well recognised and their potential to help address other primary health issues in Nigeria should continue to be realised, a balancing act is expected while funding will become a major issue.
- Therefore, UNICEF needs to develop a strategy to rationalise and transition the VCMs infrastructure by maintaining its core functions so that they will be more sustainable in the long term.
- At the same time, the Government of Nigeria through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has embarked on a programme to deploy Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) nationally. CHIPS goal is to help achieve SDG 3, reducing maternal, infant and child morbidity and mortality by creating demand for and improving access to essential primary healthcare services. CHIPS objectives are the following:
- To expand access to primary health care (PMC) services, especially Maternal, Newborn and Child Health
- To increase demand for PHC services by individuals and households
- To foster community participation and ownership
- To promote female empowerment and socio-economic developmentÂ
- To promote public-private partnership in PHC development, especially at community levelÂ
- CHIPS will harmonize all existing community level service structures including the VCMs, Village Health Workers and Traditional Birth Attendants into a more coordinated approach, which will promote efficiency.
- The government has acknowledged the role of the VCMs in the polio eradication programme and will welcome the VCMs to apply to become CHIPS agents, given that they meet the recruitment criteria. Priority will be given to VCM supervisors, known as Volunteer Ward Supervisors (VWS), to transition to become Community Engagement Focal Persons (CEFPs) under CHIPS programme. CHIPS programme represents an opportunity into which the VCM Network could transition, post-polio.
Considering all the above, there is an urgent need for a strategy that can outline a roadmap through which the VCM's network can be rationalised and transitioned. The strategy will include but not limited to:
- Mapping of the existing VCMs geographically.
- Conduct critical review of VCMs capacity, based on which recommendations and action plan are developed to prepare the VCMs for (partial) transition to CHIPS agents, noting CHIPS arrangement with Ministry of Education to provide literacy training (details to be provided by NPHCDA/CHIPS team).
- Development of a few scenarios in which the current VCMs infrastructure is gradually scaled down from the current level (high intensity of campaigns with international donors support) to a level where polio has been eliminated in Nigeria.
- Identification and analysis of risks that might come with the VCM rationalisation and transition process, and development of a risk mitigation plan in the strategy.
- Conduct a budget projection required for the VCMs for the next few years, based on which recommend the level of VCMs deployment needed.
- Streamlining the VCMs network's process and tasks including data collection, reporting and administration.
- Engagement with States to determine locations of highest need for VCMs, considering National EOC High-Risk LGAs, epidemiological and social data, security risk level, leading to recommendation for allocation of VCMs.
- This strategy will guide UNICEF and its partners to implement rationalisation and transition of VCMs in a systematic, gradual, and appropriate manners while at the same time maintaining essential polio functions to sustain the gains of the program, as well as support for other health priorities outside of polio that have been sustained through the polio infrastructure.
- For this purpose, UNICEF Nigeria is seeking services of an international consultant to provide technical support to develop the strategy on rationalisation and transition of VCMs network.
Major Tasks to be Accomplished
- Conduct desktop research on VCMs in Nigeria and organize the findings in a systematic way that clearly reflects the evolution of VCMs in Nigeria.
- Conduct in-depth interviews with relevant key stakeholders and partners at national and sub-national levels, as well as facilitate consultative meetings to gather information and inputs on the VCMs rationalisation and transition.
- Develop a comprehensive strategy on VCM transition including policy and activity recommendations with a detailed plan, logical framework, a risk mitigation plan and budget through which this strategy will be implemented.
- Review the type, frequency, relevance and quality of data generated by the VCM network with an aim to separate high impact and low value data-sets.
- Plan and participate in an advocacy plan to get buy-in from the requisite levels of government at National, State, LGA, and possibly Ward.
Qualifications or Specialized Knowledge/Experience Required
- Advance Degree in Public Health, Sociology, Anthropology, Social and Behavior Change Communication, Community Nutrition, or other related fields such as development studies.
- At least ten (10) years progressively responsible professional work experience in programme planning, management, monitoring and evaluation of community based primary health care, community nutrition, community mobilisation and empowerment.
- Excellent writing skill in English
- Experience in strategy development for social and behavior change communication programmes and studies especially on health issues such as immunization, maternal and child health and nutrition.
Basic competencies include:
- Current knowledge of development issues, strategies as well as programming policies and procedure in international development cooperation.
- Proven experience in research in polio, particularly polio legacy plan.
- Proven ability to conceptualize, innovate, plan and execute ideas
- Communication skills, to work closely with variety of partners, stakeholders and communities at large
- Good analytical, communication and advocacy skills
- Computer skills, including internet navigation and various office application
- Demonstrated ability to work in a multi-cultural environment and establish harmonious and effective working relationships both within and outside the organization.
Method of Application
- UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.
- UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles.
- Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.
Interested and qualified? Go to UNICEF career website on www.unicef.org to apply