Consultant – Conflict Sensitivity Research and Analysis – North East Syria

Mercy Corps



Mercy Corps has been present in North East Syria (NES) since 2014, delivering programs in Agriculture, Market System Strengthening, WASH, Shelter, Social Cohesion, Protection and Emergency Response. While Mercy Corps works across the Northeast region for several years now, its engagement in Deir Ez Zor has thus far been minimal and inconsistent, largely due to the contextual complexity and security environment it presents.

Marginalized for decades prior to 2011, Deir Ez Zor has had its social and governance structures severely damaged by conflict, leaving many key players jostling for influence, legitimacy, and control. As a governorate, its territory is controlled partially by the Government of Syria and partially by the Kurdish Self Administration. The perceived legitimacy of official authorities is dynamic, as is the security environment.  While resource-rich through the presence of large oil fields, the remote area comprises challenging terrain and lacks key infrastructure and basic service provision – two elements that have only been exacerbated by the recent conflict. Mercy Corps is now looking for the opportunity to safely expand its programming, and for this, it is acknowledged that the essential first step is to deepen the organization’s understanding of the context and the conflict dynamics in which it could potentially be operating. From there, particular geographic locations in which Mercy Corps could add value to communities may be identified while a profound situational awareness will ensure that programmatic decisions are made in the best interests of its staff and beneficiaries.

Purpose / Project Description:

This role will generate the best available evidence to facilitate a deeper understanding of contextual and operational constraints and opportunities, and inform strategic operational and programmatic decisions. As Mercy Corps looks to expand its programming into vulnerable areas of Deir Ez Zor (DEZ) in Northeast Syria, it is paramount that its approach is conflict-sensitive and prioritizes safe operational environments for its team and program participants as well as a principled response in line with Mercy Corps values. This consultancy will provide the grounded and empirical information that Mercy Corps requires to develop an appropriate strategy for DeZ as well as build the MC NES teams’ capacity to make decisions through a conflict sensitivity lens.

Consultant Objectives:

  1. To inform Mercy Corps’ prioritization of geographical targeting in DeZ, conduct a macro-level conflict analysis and stakeholder analysis; and detail implications for stakeholder management in DeZ.
  2. Undertake micro-level analysis to deepen Mercy Corps’ understanding of the context and conflict dynamics in prioritized geographies in DeZ.
  3. Building on the findings of the context and conflict analysis, conduct a conflict sensitivity analysis and provide concrete recommendations to inform the development or adaptation of Mercy Corps’ operational and programmatic strategies for prioritized geographies in DeZ.

Consultant Activities:

The Consultancy is divided into three main components:

  1. Macro-level analysis to contribute to an appropriate geographical targeting approach; and
  2. Micro-level analyses to support program/support teams to ground their activities within a conflict sensitivity strategy.
  3. Present data to program and support teams and facilitate sound programmatic and operational decision making through a conflict sensitive lens

Macro Level Analyses of Sub-Governorates

Conduct secondary data review and primary research to provide macro-level conflict analyses and stakeholder analyses for the following areas: Basira, Sur, Kisreh, and Thiban, Deir Ez Zor Governorate

For the conflict analysis, the consultant will:

  • Design research tools and methodologies for review and approval by Mercy Corps NES senior leadership team, ensuring all key elements of a conflict analysis are addressed and that tools/methodology will yield an understanding of age and gender specific conflict dynamics;
  • In conjunction with the NES team, define stakeholders for KIIs and/or participatory research;
  • Train the research team on methodology and tools;
  • Devise the research schedule and liaise with the MC NES Ops team for all necessary support; and
  • Conduct continuous data analysis and review the quality of incoming data, making corrective adjustments as necessary.

For the stakeholder analysis, the consultant will:

  • Develop appropriate tools and methodology for stakeholder mapping, stakeholder analysis and stakeholder management for review and approval by NES senior leadership team – ensuring all key elements of a stakeholder analysis are addressed;
  • Train and work with the MC NES team to undertake primary and secondary research to develop a stakeholder map, conduct a stakeholder analysis and determine implications for stakeholder management (including access negotiations);
  • Plan and facilitate workshops with key members of the MC NES team (including those involved in the primary research) as necessary; and
  • Present key findings from the stakeholder analysis research to NES senior leadership.

Led by the MC NES leadership team, findings from the conflict and stakeholder analyses will be overlaid with vulnerability data and will support the MC Syria team to prioritize geographic locations for further, community-level research.

Micro Level Analyses of Priority Geographical Areas

Once priority geographic areas have been identified by the MC team, the consultant will continue to lead community-level conflict, stakeholder and conflict sensitivity analyses to feed into programmatic strategy and safe operational choices.

The consultant will:

  • Propose tools and methodology (including but not limited to the Do-No-Harm framework) for conducting a conflict sensitivity analysis for review and approval by NES senior leadership team;
  • Train and support the MC NES program teams to use participatory research methodologies for micro-level conflict, stakeholder and conflict sensitivity analysis;
  • Undertake data analysis with the teams and support short yet nuanced micro-level conflict and stakeholder analyses;
  • Through facilitated workshops with MC programs and support teams, conduct a conflict sensitivity analysis of potential programmatic activities and develop a conflict sensitivity strategy for Mercy Corps operations in DeZ;
  • Lead the write-up of workshop report, outlining key findings and recommendations from each step of the conflict sensitivity analysis; and
  • Support the team to develop a work plan for regular review of the conflict sensitivity analysis and strategy .

This process will be supported by the MC support functions, particularly that of Security and Operations, to ensure that potential activities are feasible and can be adequately supported for effective implementation. Specifically, the consultant (s) will be supported by Mercy Corps team comprising:

  • Key staff from MC NES Program;
  • Field researchers supervised by Mercy Corps Humanitarian Access Team;
  • Senior level Mercy Corps NES management team members; and
  • Mercy Corps’ Amman based Technical Advisors.

Consultant Deliverables:

The Consultant will deliver:

  1. Tools, methodologies and reporting templates for carrying out conflict analysis, stakeholder analysis, and conflict sensitivity analysis and presenting key findings – for both macro and micro phases of analysis;
  2. Three-page documents summarizing key findings of the conflict and stakeholder analyses for each area analyzed during the macro-level analysis;
  3. Four-page documents summarizing key findings of the micro-level conflict and stakeholder analyses for prioritized geographies;
  4. Conflict sensitivity strategy to guide Mercy Corps’ programs in prioritized geographies including recommended timelines for review and revision of the strategy;
  5. Presentations of key findings and recommendations from both the macro and micro phases of analysis to the MC NES/Amman team; and
  6. Documents on the process and key outcomes from the consultancy for specific audiences, specifically:
  7. A report on process and key outcome to be confidentially shared with DFID as a project output; and
  8. An executive summary of process and key outcomes to be shared with external audiences.

Timeframe / Schedule: 

The consultancy will take place from October 1 to December 31, 2019. An indicative schedule is outlined below:

  • Secondary data review and research plan – 4 weeks
  • Primary research for macro-level analysis – 6 weeks
  • Primary research for micro-level conflict analysis – 4 weeks
  • Review of programmatic options – 2 weeks
  • Finalize consultancy outputs – 3 weeks

Please note that these timelines overlap and the total period of the consultancy is 16 weeks. 

The Consultant will report to:

The Consultant will have a direct reporting line to the North East Syria Area Direct, with guidance and support from the research steering committee, which includes:

  1. Deputy Country Director
  2. Peace and Conflict Technical Advisor
  3. Security Director
  4. Operations Director
  5. Humanitarian Access Team Director
  6. Program Performance and Quality Director

The Consultant will work closely with:

  1. Peace and Conflict Technical Advisor
  2. Security Team
  3. Operations Team
  4. Humanitarian Access Team
  5. Program Performance and Quality Team (including MEL focal points for North East Syria

Required Experience & Skills:

  • Relevant academic qualifications, and / or 7+ years’ experience in conflict analysis, peace and conflict programming, governance or other related field
  • Relevant experience in with participatory approaches to data collection in conflict-affected contexts;
  • Proven track record facilitating trainings to enhance knowledge and promote practical skills for peace and conflict research;
  • Experience in conducting conflict, stakeholder and conflict sensitivity analysis in humanitarian contexts;
  • Experience incorporating a gender and age lens in conflict analysis and conflict sensitivity analysis processes;
  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of formal and informal systems of local governance and social organization, including the interplay between tribal dynamics and governance; and
  • Fluency in written and spoken English and (strongly preferred) spoken proficiency of Arabic.
  • Knowledge of the local context, specifically in DEZ


How To Apply

Apply here:

Type: Contract, Temporary

, ,Syria