USAID-funded CRCA Activity Overview
In central Africa’s Mbomou-Uele border region, spanning north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and eastern Central African Republic (CAR), armed groups, often fuelled by illicit natural resource exploitation, perpetuate cycles of violence that inflict trauma, undermine livelihoods, and exacerbate intercommunal tensions. The USAID-funded Community Resilience in Central Africa (CRCA) Activity builds on Invisible Children’s (IC) well-established programs and partnerships across the region to strengthen community resilience in response to these threats, while reinforcing conservation initiatives that aim to cut off armed groups from key revenue streams. CRCA aims to equip at least 118 target communities with the skills and tools to reduce their exposure and equip them to mitigate risks from security threats, to recover from conflict-induced trauma (20 target communities), peacefully transform intercommunal conflicts (30 target communities) while pursuing livelihood activities (30 communities). By doing so, CRCA will achieve progress toward a future in which civilians and wildlife are connected less by the mutual threats they have faced, and more by the thriving interdependence they share.
CRCA is one of multiple projects contributing to a Joint Results Framework developed by USAID with the ultimate objective to strengthen community resilience and improve wildlife conservation in the Mboumou-Uele border region. In addition to CRCA, the Joint Results Framework includes two conservation-focused projects funded through USAID’s Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) and implemented by conservation organization African Parks Network. Together, CRCA and the CARPE projects will achieve the following Intermediate Results (IRs):
- IR 1: Strengthened capacity for wildlife conservation in Garamba National Park, Chinko Reserve, and other protected areas (NOTE: CRCA is not responsible for this IR)
- IR 2: Communities enabled to mitigate and adapt to security and conservation threats
- IR 3: Target communities enabled to pursue pro-conservation livelihoods and basic needs
- IR 4: Vulnerable populations’ recovery from trauma facilitated
- IR 5: Key inter-communal conflicts resolved
CRCA launched in October 2017, with the first year of the project primarily focused on operational ramp-up and the design and implementation of activities associated with IR 2 (Communities enabled to mitigate and adapt to security and conservation threats). CRCA is now in Quarter One of Year Two, which entails a stronger focus on the design and implementation of activities associated with IR 4 (Vulnerable populations’ recovery from trauma facilitated).
IR 4 Overview: Vulnerable populations’ recovery from trauma facilitated
Instability in the Mbomou-Uele border region, especially due to the presence of armed groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has uprooted several communities and disrupted social dynamics. Survivors of the conflict often struggle with trauma and even stigmatization in their own communities. Future security and stability in the region depend, in part, on the extent to which people are integrated back into communities. However, targeting only ex-combatants for reintegration, especially in a region with such extreme poverty and protracted violence, risks fuelling resentment and can thus be counter-productive. Reintegration and trauma healing support is needed by a wide range of people, including victims, former combatants, and host communities.
At present, the core approach to addressing vulnerable populations’ recovery from trauma stems from the creation of 20 Community Counsellor Teams (CCTs) who will be mobilized to provide community-based trauma healing seminars. Through this practice, the intended CRCA result will be to have a “reduced level of trauma and enhanced community acceptance of returnees from armed groups.”
CRCA’s IR 4 activities will include the provision of both community-based psychosocial services (sub-IR 4.1) and psychosocial services to High Needs Individuals (HNIs) (sub-IR 4.2).
To date, CRCA has planned for several activities under IR 4, including:
- Coordinating support for returnees from armed groups through community training on family tracing protocols.
- Development of an enhanced system for tracking and supporting the family tracing and repatriation of escapees.
- Assessment of the trauma healing and reintegration services available for population in need with the eventual introduction of support provisions for trauma healing and reintegration services.
- Selection and Training of 20 Community Counsellor Teams (CCTs) with updated training modules, including working to support and develop referral pathways for “High Needs Individuals (HNIs)” to reference hospitals .
- Trauma-Healing counselling for High Needs Individuals
- Community-based trauma-healing seminars by the CCTs
- Awareness-raising sessions with local stakeholders for “traumatized persons”
- Outreach sessions within 20 communities and follow up sessions to address PSS and GBV issues in the community.
- Support for reunification and reintegration of returnees from armed groups.
Invisible Children is seeking an experienced MHPSS Consultant to ensure the quality adherence of CRCA’s IR 4 activities and methodologies, drawing upon sound and evidence-based MHPSS global practices.
The MHPSS consultant will provide remote-based technical leadership and country support to CRCA to ensure that the design and management of IR 4 activities adhere to international guidelines and standards, promote strong beneficiary and donor accountability that meets the reporting needs for internal and external stakeholders. The consultant will provide technical guidance on IR 4 project design and management structure and take a leading role in the recruitment of a field-based MHPSS expert to spearhead management of IR 4 project implementation.
Objectives & Deliverables
Objective 1 - Audit of IR 4: Assess the quality and sufficiency of the current state of existing MHPSS materials, plans, and programming for IR 4:
- Peer Review: Peer Review of all project literature and methodology developed to date and propose necessary revisions.
- Global Standards: Take lead in development and oversight of program technical monitoring and evaluation framework of the proposed project activities. This includes supporting the development and identification of minimum standards (quality benchmarks) on MHPSS within the integrated programs of CRCA and develop innovative tools to measure progress.
- Methodology Review: Review existing IR 4 methodology literature for Trauma Healing interventions and propose any necessary revisions.
- Service Mapping: Map out the Psychiatric services available in the selected reference hospitals for HNIs and identify any areas of concern.
- Community Mapping: Map out the local/community services available in CAR/DRC at community and government level and document how it complements the guiding framework of the project
- Training Modules/Materials: Review training modules and propose any revisions and/or quality improvements that ensure alignment to global MHPSS standards.
- Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Framework Review: Review MEL systems for MHPSS programming, in collaboration with MEL team and implementing partners; including, the development of MEL tools and methodology, management of reporting mechanisms and information flow, and analysis of program data and impact
- MHPSS Stressors: Conduct a desk review of existing assessment reports produced by CRCA or other agencies that identify and pinpoint any mental health stressors for the affected community in the Mbomou-Uele border region.
- Standard Audit: Assess the degree to which IR 4 project activities and methodologies align with global MHPSS standards and any national guiding frameworks (mental health/PSS policy or plans).
- Local Coordination Review: Support program teams to identify pre-existing community-based local actors providing mental health and/or psychosocial services to various groups, including INGOS, focus on gender-based violence, men’s support, child protection, Psychosocial Support, Psychological first aid etc and carve out a programmatic approach for how IC will work and complement services with these local agencies.
Objective 2: Detailed recommendations/alterations made to IR4 Program Design that meets overall best-practice guidelines and evidence-based approaches:
- Propose a program design that takes into account the best-practice guidelines and evidence-based approaches and training of relevant actors (e.g. Programs aligning to IASC Guidelines).
- Develop and disseminate guiding frameworks and quality assurance materials for Invisible Children’s incoming IR 4 MHPSS Adviser, specifically on common psychological reactions, evidence-based coping strategies, and best practices for directing people to available MHPSS support services.
- Audit and assess programmatic soundness of the proposed approach for the provision of community-based psychosocial services (Sub IR 4.1), as outlined in the CRCA Technical Application and the CRCA Year Two Implementation Plan
- MHPSS Technical Coordination and Activities: Map out an approach for how project plans will coordinate with local and international MHPSS actors and draw upon the pre-existing available services
- Promote interagency communication and support that leverages an interagency referral system
Objective 3: Lead the creation of a JD/TOR for an IR 4 MHPSS Adviser
- Informed by the IR 4 program design, the consultant should craft a detailed job description reflecting the responsibilities and core competencies relevant to IR 4. This staff member should be a qualified MHPSS expert, with experience working with communities in volatile conflict and post-conflict areas, and will be responsible for the quality assurance and roll out of IR 4 interventions.
Objective 4: Recruit MHPSS Adviser for IR 4
- Serve as technical hiring manager for the shortlisting and final selection of a field-based IR 4 MHPSS Adviser, which includes:
- Initial vetting of applicants
- Management of and participation in the interview process with top candidates
- Recommendation to CRCA leadership of a best and final candidate
- Master’s degree in a relevant field such as mental health, psychosociology, or social work is a must;
- Minimum 5 years’ experience in setting up and implementing high quality MHPSS, preferably in community resource-deprived contexts.
- Familiarity and proven versality designing programs drawing upon global MHPSS guidelines and a mental health case management approach.
- Existing networks of contacts in MHPSS
- Ability to be flexible and work in difficult environments
- Ability to work independently with minimal supervision and, at times, remotely
- Excellent communication and diplomatic skills
- Experience with capacity building, training, and day-to-day mentoring
- Ability to analyze diverse information and develop recommendations for an appropriate response
- Prior experience in central Africa and/or areas that have facing similar dynamics with protracted armed group violence, is preferred
- Political and cultural sensitivity with qualities of patience and diplomacy
- Ability to work both in an advisory role and implementation context.
- Working proficiency in French is preferred.
- Ability to communicate clearly and sensitively in written and spoken English.
- At least 2 previous experiences in similar situations and contexts
About the Organization
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Invisible Children is an international non-profit organization working to end violent conflict and exploitation facing our world’s most isolated and unprotected communities. We partner with local visionaries in volatile conflict zones to build community-led initiatives and drive global policy change to end violent conflict and ensure communities have the safety they deserve. When Invisible Children was founded in 2004, our primary aim was to hasten an end to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) crisis in central Africa and support the lasting recovery of communities in the region targeted by the LRA and other armed groups. Our comprehensive approach to the LRA crisis has integrated every level of intervention, from direct partnerships with local communities to advocacy campaigns targeting international policymakers.
Over the course of 12 years working with remote communities in central Africa, we have contributed to significant progress in ending the LRA crisis, while refining and adapting our programs to address violence perpetrated by a number of armed groups and other destabilizing forces threatening the central Africa region. Invisible Children’s current work focuses on developing innovative and sustainable solutions to regional insecurity and armed group violence. In recent years, this has included the exploration of community-based initiatives and conflict analysis to address the intersection of human security and illicit wildlife trafficking in the central Africa region.