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Implementation of a Pilot Study in Strengthening Informal Social Protection Mechanisms in Africa
Procurement Process :RFP - Request for proposal
Office :Harare - ZIMBABWE
Deadline :06-Dec-19
Posted on :25-Nov-19
Reference Number :61567
Link to Atlas Project :
00102636 - Implementing Zimbabwe’s Nationally Determined Contribut
Documents :
Etendering Bidder Manual
Overview :


The State’s obligation to deliver social protection to the poor and vulnerable populations is articulated in national policy documents and Constitutions of many African countries, however, the availability of social protection schemes is still very limited, with only 17.8 percent of Africans covered. The absence of formal social protection schemes does not mean that individuals and communities are devoid of means to cope with sudden misfortunes. Traditional forms of support, also called informal or indigenous social protection, are provided typically on a reciprocal basis by friends, family, or by people within the same social group. In other cases, relief is provided by religious organizations, charities, private foundations or individuals. Because of the limited ability of the state to cover all those who need social protection, the role of informal mechanisms will remain crucial, in the African context, for a foreseeable future.

Despite their uncontested value in delivering essential social assistance, informal support mechanisms are under threat due to several recent phenomena. Rural-urban and irregular migration, the HIV/AIDS epidemic that resulted in single-headed or skipped-generation households, or idiosyncratic shocks are seriously undermining the traditional support systems at the household level and might result in persons retorting to negative coping strategies such as depleting productive assets, skipping meals, sending children to work or engaging in hazardous behaviour. 

When shocks affect entire communities, as it is the case with environmental and climate change-induced shocks or public health epidemics, the existing coping strategies are under severe stress, particularly when the communities are already poor. Humanitarian assistance, while bringing the necessary relief, offers only a short-term solution without making the necessary investments into building communities’ resilience to future shocks.  

The long history and rich practices of informal traditional support mechanisms have been largely ignored by contemporary social protection systems. Only a handful of countries acknowledge their existence and importance in their national policies (the few exceptions include Chad, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania). Even fewer ponder instituting polices and strategies to strengthen such “customary” mechanism with government action. Moreover, the existing conceptual and programmatic frameworks on social protection mostly remain silent on the informal forms of protection. This project aims to study this niche to inform UNDP programming on extending and strengthening social protection systems in Africa. 

Scope of Work 

UNDP is proposing a new regional initiative that aims at strengthening the ability of informal support mechanisms to deal with shocks at the household and community levels. The proposed regional initiative is well aligned with the core vision of the Leaving No One Behind principle of the SDGs. The initiative will have the following components:

Building a comprehensive knowledge base on informal mutual support mechanisms 

The topic of informal support systems is covered by some studies in the field of anthropology or ethnology, but they typically concentrate on specific localities, ethnicities or customs, and rarely discuss covariate shocks. The policy literature that would analyze implications of such systems on development (e.g., resilience building, capacities, etc.) is largely missing. Through this initiative, UNDP will address this gap to gain critical insights into the mechanics of the informal social protection, their specific needs and opportunities they present with regards to resilience building, productive capacities, climate change response or inclusion of vulnerable people in line with the principle of LNOB. 

Strengthening informal mechanisms

Informal support systems are becoming increasingly difficult to sustain in the context of chronic poverty or recurring crises. They might also exclude specific vulnerable groups (e.g., persons with disabilities, widows, etc.). With this intervention, UNDP will increase the capacity of the informal systems to mitigate the impacts of the shocks and increase their resilience to future misfortunes. This might entail support to linking the communities to available state-provided social assistance schemes, to micro-insurances, food banks, enhancing livelihoods opportunities, climate adaptation strategies, and the like. 

Fostering policy linkages and government ownership 

In this component we shall catalyze ownership of governments over the provision of support to the traditional forms of social protection. UNDP will engage with the governments to promote the incorporation of informal social protection mechanisms into the national policies and programmes. Policy recommendations for national social protection systems will be elaborated with the aim of establishing linkages between formal and informal social protection systems. The project will ensure that legal and regulatory frameworks exist to provide governance framework to sanction the state’s support to the informal social protection systems. Support to the revision of legal and policy framework will be provided. 

The consultancy firm will support Phase 1: Building a comprehensive knowledge base on informal mutual support mechanisms. UNDP has hired a consultant lead researcher under whose leadership the consultancy firm shall implement the research. 



In consultation with the Social Protection Team at RSCA and under the leadership of the lead researcher the firm is expected to undertake a qualitative study of informal social protection mechanisms with the objective of understanding what informal mechanisms exist in selected localities, how they function, how they deal with covariate shocks, who they include and exclude and crucially, what kind of support they might require, the firm is expected to carry out a qualitative research on informal social protection systems in Zimbabwe. This will include the following deliverables:

Managing Qualitative Research Preparation and Data collection: The Firm will oversee all activities related to preparation and implementation of the research. This will include:

  • Developing the Field Work Plan, including associated logistics 
  • Leading and observing interviews, focus groups and other research modalities while ensuring that research protocol is being followed. 
  • Providing a field research team that will consist of a local specialist for each province or ethnic group participating in the study, gender specialist, a specialist in participatory methods and a translator. 
  • Executing all administrative and logistical matters related to the local research (including the necessary permits, local transportation, translation, venues for interviews and focus groups). 
  • Attending methodological workshop, where the research instruments would be finalized in collaboration with the field research team, pilot tested in a nearby community and revised before being finalized. 
  • Ensuring interviews are taped and transcribed and preliminary findings presented were further issues could be incorporated into a modified research design for future use. 

Supporting the development of Qualitative Research Tools: In collaboration with the lead researcher, the research team shall: 

  • Tailor the instrument(s) to capture informal institutions, that is, traditional mechanisms of social protection, composition of community groups and their governance, local social structures, and the inclusion and exclusion of different groups within communities.
  • Use standard qualitative research methods in this fieldwork including, semi-structured community discussions and/or focus group discussions, key informant interviews and individual case studies.
  • The gender specialist on the team may particularly conduct life history of interviews with women and children on gender-specific topics including treatment of women (and non-elites) within community and/or savings groups and the impact of modernisation on the role of women in informal institutions. 
  • Support the lead researcher in the identification of pilot localities that would be indicative of Zimbabwean ethnic grouping and/or informal institutions.

Analysis and Dissemination of Results: 

  • The Firm is responsible for all write-up of results from the qualitative research.  
  • The Firm is responsible to support the lead researcher with his analysis of the research results.

Managing Data Documentation and Storage

  • The Firm is responsible for ensuring proper, comprehensive documentation of the qualitative research activities and results. 


The United Nations Development Programme in Zimbabwe (UNDP Zimbabwe) invites proposals from qualified firms/organizations to participate in the Request For Proposal:

PRC/ZWE/RFP/0011/11/25/2019: Implementation of a Pilot Study in Strengthening Informal Social Protection Mechanisms in Africa

The detailed solicitation documents and bidding instructions are available on the website below and are accessible to registered bidders.

Unregistered bidders can access the easy-to-follow registration instructions from the link below and proceed to register:

 Prospective bidders should note the following events and times:   


1. Deadline of submission of offers:                              6 December 2019 09:00 hrs New York Time

2. Mode of submission of offers:                                   e-Tendering online system in

Link to Video Guides on registering as bidder in eTendering and Submitting & Managing bids in eTendering:

Please note that this advert is not to be construed in any way as an offer to contract with your firm. Furthermore, UNDP reserves the right to reject part or all of the proposals.