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Short Term Consultant

Feasibility Study – Strengthening Water Access for Climate Resilience in Phongsaly

Deadline: 26th July 2024

Contract start: 1st August 2024

Duration: 70 Working Days

Introduction

CARE International is a global NGO working to end poverty and achieve social justice. We rebuild and improve the lives of the most vulnerable groups, especially women and girls who are often the most marginalised individuals in their communities and face unequal access to social and economic rights. In 2019, CARE worked in 100 countries around the world, implementing 1,036 poverty-fighting development and humanitarian aid projects, and reached more than 68 million people directly and 401 million people indirectly.

CARE International in Lao PDR began its operations in 1992 and has worked since then to improve the lives of vulnerable groups in both rural and urban areas, particularly ethnic minority communities. CARE works in partnership with community members, government, local civil society organisations, and the private sector. CARE currently implements projects in five provinces: Vientiane Capital, Phongsaly, Champasak, Savannakhet and Sekong.

CARE’s “Marginalized Women and Girls” program empowers women and girls to exercise their rights, to lead and make decisions, and benefit from socio-economic justice. CARE’s two main program areas in Lao are women’s health and women’s economic empowerment. Our health programs empower women and girls to exercise their rights to reproductive, maternal and child nutritional health for greater control over their bodies and to live a life free from violence.  Our economic empowerment programs give women and girls greater access to and control over economic opportunities, resilient resources and dignified work by promoting gender equality, fighting gender based violence and climate risk. CARE has extensive experience and expertise in both of these areas and will continue to pursue evidence-based practices to deliver long-lasting solutions effectively and sustainably.

Since 2006, CARE has worked in Phongsaly province in the areas of integrated development of agriculture, livelihoods, health, education, water/sanitation, climate change and interventions contributing to poverty eradication. Phongsaly is the farthest northern province in Laos, which shares borders with China and Vietnam. Most of Phongsaly lies at high altitudes, with the highest city in Laos at 1,400 meters above sea level. Phongsaly’s population includes 28 different ethnic groups, with majority Akha, Khmu, Tai Lue and Hor. Phongsaly has a total population, 197,989 (2023) and seven districts: Phongsaly, Mai, Khua, Samphanh, Boun Neua, Boun Tai and Gnot-Ou. CARE has been working in three of the seven districts: Samphanh, Mai and Khua. To date, CARE has implemented three projects involving strengthening access to quality water, several of them focus on construction and renovation of gravity fed systems.

The Strengthening Water Access for Climate Resilience in Phongsaly project proposes to strengthen access to safe water among 15 communities in Samphan and Mai districts. The project will focus on strengthening access and quality through exploring more sustainable approaches to water infrastructure and community behavioral practices. The project will also partner with communities to ensure that adequate investment will be made, ensuring awareness and capacity-building are key priorities as these are strong foundations that contribute to long-term sustainability. Throughout the project period, CARE will also explore climate-resilient livelihood options that will contribute to long-term sustainable use and consumption of water and protection of water sources in communities.

FEASIBILITY STUDY DESCRIPTION

The feasibility study is a key component of the project to ensure the suitability and potential sustainability of water systems providing year-round water supply. The key focus of the study is establishing potential communities that are able to have year round water supply that is able to supply adequate water for consumption, hygiene, and WASH needs of the entire community. Understanding the current gender dynamics of potential villages is also a component of the study with female participation in leadership and female participation in water management committees to be assessed. A more in-depth gender analysis will take place once village selection is complete. The existing watershed and water supply will be assessed to ensure the suitability of water systems and the potential to supply adequate demand for the village now and in the future.

The feasibility study will consist of the following activities:

  1. Village selection processes undertaken based on rapid assessment results which include a) assessment of gender dimensions to water supply and labor burdens; b) established poverty criteria; and c) negotiation with local authorities resulting in 15 target communities being provisionally selected for project implementation.
  2. Technical assessment of water quantity and quality of an estimated three sources per targeted community, i.e., 45 sites (15 x 3) assessed during the wet and dry seasons. Village selection informed by results of technical assessment and finalized list of 15 target villages agreed.
  • Water level measurement between the seasons
  • Water chemical testing
  • Distance measurement between the bodies of water and the villages
  1. Water system designs undertaken and costed for the 15 selected target communities.

As an initial step of the project, this study will involve a) village selection informed by village visits and basic information gathering followed by b) detailed technical feasibility assessments for village water supply systems in 15 targeted communities in Samphan and Mai Districts. This initial feasibility assessment will  help ensure project coherence, improve effectiveness and appropriateness of selected water systems, and ensure sustainability.

  1. Village Selection:

Existing district data reveals that there are a total of 32 villages in both districts without functioning water supply systems. A summary of this situation is shown below:

Figure 2.

Location Number of villages Population Number of Families Number of poorest Families (%) Ethnicities
Samphan District
Villages without system 4 1,053 171 24 (14%) Phounoy, Hmong, Akha, Khmu
Villages with broken system 16 6,525 1,247 189 (15%) Khmu, Akha
Mai District
Villages without system 4 902 191 78 (41%) Akha, Tai Dam, Laobid
Villages with broken system 8 2,488 543 142 (26%) Akha, Tai Dam, Khmu
Total 32 10,968 2,152 433 (20%)

The consultant, CARE and district government partners, undertake an assessment of a) current water supply system issues; b) village leadership openness to women’s involvement in leadership and decision-making including current function and gender makeup of water management committee (if it exists); c) data on gender disaggregated seasonal water collection labor burdens; d) likely water supply demand in 10 years’ time based on population growth estimates and any village plans;  e) current WASH behaviors of communities including source use, managing waste water; and f) gather basic information on potential sources of water for the supply systems as well as watershed protection. This information, gathered through one-day village rapid assessments, will inform village selection.

Final village selection will be undertaken based upon the consultant’s recommendations, jointly by CARE and district authorities based on the following criteria:

  1. Scale of demand for water able to be satisfied in regards to consumption, hygiene, and WASH needs, with larger villages being prioritized.
  2. Level of village vulnerability, with villages with higher poverty levels being prioritized.
  3. Technical feasibility, with sites where meeting future village water needs for year round water supply is most feasible being prioritized.
  4. Level of need, where women’s current water collection burdens are most onerous and where women’s likely future role in water system decision making and management is greatest.

A draft list of the 15 selected villages will be developed through this process. Detailed technical assessment in these 15 sites will then occur, any necessary adjustments will be made and then the list of 15 selected villages finalized.

For each of the 15 selected villages, a detailed technical assessment will determine the best way to meet the villages’ predicted water needs. This will commence with determining likely levels of water demand in ten years’ time based on a) existing natural growth in village and school populations (Namsaat guideline is 2.9%/year x 10 years); b) any planned village consolidation/relocation to the site; and c) a minimum daily requirement of 55-75 liters of water per person per day in accordance with the Naam Saat[1] guideline to meet current and future drinking, washing and sanitation requirements. Based on the above factors a total daily required supply for each community will be calculated that the designed water system should at a minimum be able to satisfy. The project will explore different types of water systems identified in Figure 1 to determine the most appropriate and effective water source for year-round water supply for each village and will be a key priority of the feasibility assessment.

The technical study will involve a) visiting multiple potential source sites in each community; b) assessing the flow rates in both wet season and during the dry season (target assessment in June-October) from each source; c) undertaking water sampling and quality assessment from each site during both the wet and dry seasons; and d) assessing ease of watershed protection for each potential source site. During the technical assessments the reasons for existing system failure will be examined and solutions identified. In many cases system failure is the result of pipes not being properly buried and thus open to later damage. In other sites the water supply may be insufficient for the community because of reduced flows or increased community demand. In each case the technical assessment will explore the reasons for failure and develop plans to repair/replace the system to a level that meets communities’ projected future water needs year-round.

In line with recent Ministry of Health policies on rural water supply the project will design water systems that enable supply to individual household levels rather than community standpipes. This approach enhances sustainability and increases water usage with related health benefits. CARE has used this approach in the past and will continue to do so in this project. However, to ensure that poor households can fully benefit, the project will design systems that subsidize the costs of water meters and household connections, normally paid for by the end user, for poor and especially female headed households. This model design will be decided by established village-level Water Management Committees and Naam Saat with the guidance of CARE’s water specialist. In addition to household connections the village systems will also be designed to meet any village school water and health care center supply needs based on the assessment to ensure a community approach is taken to year-round water supply.

The project will trial approaches to enable potable drinking water supply in at least two communities. The design of these trials and associated technology selection will take place during project implementation and as such will not be covered under the assessment described in this document. The feasibility study will also include research of existing models for potable water supply in Laos or in the region, assessing different technical models against key criteria including ability of poor households to sustain access.

Possible potable water systems include water filters, sedimentation tanks and the like. The study will also look at the required maintenance of these systems and how much it will cost to inform community decisions on the selection of approaches and subsidy designs.

SCOPE OF WORK

The scope of work is to:

  1. Go through an in depth village selection processes – undertaken based on rapid assessment results which include a) assessment of gender dimensions to water supply and labor burdens; b) established poverty criteria; and c) negotiation with local authorities
    1. This will result in selection recommendations that CARE and local government authorities will use to select the target villages.
  2. Technical assessment of water quantity and quality of an estimated three sources per targeted community, i.e., 45 sites (15 x 3) assessed during the wet and dry seasons. Final village selection informed by results of technical assessment and finalized list of 15 target villages agreed.
  3. Water system designs undertaken and costed for the 15 selected target communities including any school or health centre in that community
  4. Research of existing models for potable water supply in Laos or in the region, assessing different technical models against key criteria including ability of poor households to sustain access.

KEY DELIVERABLES

  1. Inception report for feasibility study including any methodology, appraisal tools to be used and FGD guidelines
  2. Undertake rapid assessment of 32 target villages and create recommendation list research in all target communities and submit an interim invoice (50% of total cost)
  3. Full technical assessment report for selected villages
  4. Full water system design for 15 target villages
  5. Research report on potable water supply systems
  6. Final report submitted, including one page summary, and online presentation of findings to internal CARE staff

Roles and Responsibility

  1. The lead consultant takes full responsibility for managing the assignment contract and collaboration with CARE Laos, particularly CARE’s Senior Women’s Health Advisor
  2. CARE is responsible for supporting the consultant for travelling in project areas for data collection to perform as committed within the scope of work.
  3. All tasks under this assignment have to be carried out in a participatory manner and gender- sensitive and following all relevant CARE Laos policy including safeguarding policies.
  4. Any data collection done within this scope of work should be disaggregated by age, sex and disability and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and more (LGTBQIA+) and their participation in the water system management.
  5. All raw data shall be cleaned and submitted with the summary of findings.

TIME FRAME

This assignment is expected to run from 15/7/23-30/11/23 The total working days is 70 days.

SELECTION CRITERIA

1 Qualification and Experience ·       Relevant post graduate qualifications.

·       At least 8 years’ experience on water supply in Lao PDR or south East Asia, ideally with programming and gender experience

·       Strong in social research methods, gender mainstreaming, ethnicity, Social Behavioural Change and Communication, etc.) are required.

·       Demonstrated good understanding of gender issues, community dynamics and role of Naam Saat in Laos.

2 Technical skills ·       Demonstrated strong water supply system technical research, design and construction.

·       Demonstrated strong capacity in community mobilisation and engagement in design, creation and maintenance of village and household water solutions.

·       Excellence in using KOBO, Microsoft Office and other online communication platform such as Google Meet, Team and Zoom.

3 Language ·       Excellent written and spoken English language skills.

·       Experience in Lao PDR and Lao language skills are desirable.

4 References ·       A minimum of two referee contacts who have managed the proposed consultant previously.

As a matter of course, all consultants are subject to the following policies:

  • CARE Laos safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.
  • Terrorist Check Safety and Security Management Plan.
  • CARE Code of Conduct.

APPLICATION

If you are interested in this role, please submit 1) responsible consultant’s CV and consultant team’s CVs, (2) cover letter, (3) two references, (4) Consulting proposal and (5) cost quotation to: Lao.contracts@careint.org by 26th July 2024, please include the text: “Application for Water Supply System Feasibility Study” in the subject of your email.

Note that the cost quotation should include the consultant’s daily rate as well as any materials and travel costs required for the consultant to complete the analysis outlined above.

  • CARE is an equal opportunity employer committed to a diverse workforce. Women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • CARE Laos has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct within or external to the organization and imbed child protection in all they do;
  • CARE Laos participates in the Inter-agency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme (MDS).  CARE USA reserves the right to seek information from job applicants’ previous employers about incidents of sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment, and/or child abuse.  The applicant may have been found guilty to have committed or about which an investigation was in the process of being carried out at the time of the termination of the applicant’s employment with that employer.  By submitting the application, the job applicant confirms that s/he has no abjection to CARE USA requesting the information specified above; and
  • As well as pre-employment checks, CARE Laos will use the recruitment and reference process to ensure potential new staff understand and are aligned with these expectations.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the Botsiber Foundation. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CARE International in Lao PDR and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation

[1] Nam Saat manage water systems and quality control for rural communities (where about 80% of the population lives) and tests the water’s quality for household use. Most organizations work with Nam Saat. Nam Saat is under the department of hygiene in the Ministry of Health.