Terms of Reference for a Consultancy Service on the Mid-Term Review of the Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) Project in Cameroon

Project Title: “Landscapes and Livelihoods: Participatory Restoration of the Mount Bamboutos Ecosystem” in Cameroon

1. Introduction

The International Tree Foundation (ITF) and the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) seek the services of a skilled consultant to undertake a mid-term external review of their three-year project, funded by Darwin Initiative. The overall aim of the project is to restore the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of the mount Bamboutos ecosystem, while securing the livelihoods of the local and indigenous communities. The project started in April 2018 and is implemented in nine (09) villages around the Mount Bamboutos Landscape, aiming to reach a total of 1500 project participants both directly and indirectly. The first phase of the project will come to an end in September 2021, however, due to plans to expand and scale-up the project to two five-year phases, a mid-term review of the first half of the project is required.

1.1 About ERuDeF

ERuDeF is the leading Cameroonian conservation organisation, founded in 1999. ERuDeF has part of her mission to conserve biodiversity and restore fragile environments through research, training, education and community engagement.

ERuDeF has 20 years of expertise in biodiversity conservation; landscape restoration; agroforestry and agricultural development; sustainable forest management; livelihood and economic development, and conservation finance.

1.2 About ITF

ITF is a UK based organisation that works with communities in Africa and the UK to carry out sustainable community forestry projects which protect, regenerate and cultivate trees and forests to conserve habitats rich in biodiversity and to enhance human and environmental well-being.

1.3 Project Description

The Mount Bamboutos Initiative (MBI) is a project for the restoration of the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functions of Mount Bamboutos in Western Cameroon, through the planting of 15 million trees in 15 years. It is a joint initiative of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), Cameroon and the International Tree Foundation (ITF), UK in collaboration with the government of Cameroon. The Mount Bamboutos ecosystem by 1960 was one of the most biodiversity rich mountains in continental Africa with the presence of gorillas, chimpanzees, antelopes, elephants, birds, amphibians and butterflies. Additionally, the 2740 m high mountain conferred to this ecosystem a high degree of endemism and restricted ranges to many of the globally threatened species found there. Fifty-seven years down the lane, due to an exaggerated anthropogenic pressure, this once one of the richest mountain biodiversity hotspots in Africa and the second highest water tower in Cameroon has nearly been completely degraded with many of the species going to local extinction

Due to massive deforestation (that has led to the disappearance of the Mt. Bamboutos Forest Reserve created in the 1900), intensive and uncontrolled farming in low and high-altitude areas, the natural vegetation has declined, the springs located on the mountain side have dried up, and the soil erosion is worsening. These have led to unregulated land uses, land use conflicts, severe poverty, unregulated use of natural resources, water crises and food insecurity.

The project therefore seeks to restore the biodiversity and ecosystem functions of Mount Bamboutos, while securing the livelihoods of the local and indigenous communities. The project has six major components: governance, forest landscape restoration, livelihood development, research and development, biodiversity and sustainable finance.

Three community-based organizations (CBOs) are involved in the delivery of the project, with one coming from each of the five administrative districts in the project area. We have:

Menoua: Green Impact, who have replaced Groupement D’Appui pour le Developpement Durable (GADD)

Lebialem: Operation Green Space (OGS)

Mezam: Community Assistance In Development (COMAID)

The research component of the project is conducted by the Cameroon Mountains University Network (CaMUN) which includes individual researchers, universities and other research institutions.

2. Project Review Period

The period under review is from project start date, that is, July 2018 to November 2019.

3. Review Stakeholders

The results of this review are primarily intended for internal use by ITF and ERUDEF to inform future improvements to the project and to transfer learning across the project area. Results and findings will also be shared with the funders, Darwin Initiative and TreeSisters. Relevant results and lessons learned will be shared with other stakeholders, including farmers, village forest management committee members, traditional authorities, relevant government agencies and other actors within the landscape.

4. Purpose of the Review

The objectives of the Mid Term Review are to review the project’s:

  1. Relevance – the extent to which the objectives are consistent with local communities’ needs and priorities.
  2. Participation – the extent to which local communities and institutions are actively engaged and participating in the project.
  3. Effectiveness – the extent to which the targeted project objectives are being achieved (or are expected to be achieved).
  4. Efficiency – how economically resources/inputs are being converted into results.
  5. Sustainability – the extent to which the benefits are likely to continue after the project
  6. Impact – the long-term effects that the project is likely to produce (directly, indirectly, intended and unintended).
  7. Adaptive Capacity -the extent to which the project applies strong adaptive management practice to ensure continued relevance, strong performance, and learning.

The review should assess the above in relation to two central broad questions:

I. What changes / outcomes / achievements have taken place?

II. How have these changes / outcomes / achievements been brought about?

In relation to this, the review should consider the following sub-questions:

  • How are community members involved in the project?
  • How are local community institutors involved in the project?
  • What have been the unintended and unexpected outcomes of the project activities?
  • Who are benefitting (number of men, women, youth), in what ways?
  • Have any changes been achieved in relation to policy / practice / attitudes of decision makers / policy makers etc. in the countries where the project is working?
  • To what extent has the achievement of the changes / outcomes been influenced by external / other factors?
  • To what extent are changes attributable to the project activities?
  • How accurate is the ‘theory of change’ that was articulated near the beginning of the project? Is it effective, where were the gaps, how should it be adapted and improved for the future?
  • What are the most effective approaches used by ERuDeF and ITF to bring about change?
  • What is working, what is not working, and why?
  • What overall lessons are being learned?
  • How are relationships between partners helping or hindering the ‘delivery of changes / outcomes’? How can these relationships be improved?
  • How effective are the project’s monitoring, management, learning and financial systems? How can these be improved?
  • Is the project delivering ‘value for money’?
  • How readily is project learning transferable to international knowledge development?

5. Provide Recommendations for Continued Project Interventions and Scale-up

Learning from this review will feed into plans for expansion and scale-up of this project. Learning will also be applied to inform other projects and programmes across the network. The review should therefore be strongly focused on recommendations for improvement relating to the central questions outlined above, and in particular – if and how activities could be adapted to better meet the needs of the target communities.

6. Methodology

The review should consist of the following:

(a) Review of project documentation: Review of archived material related to the project. This could include, but is not restricted to: annual and quarterly reports, communications between ITF, ERuDeF and partners, the original project proposal document, the basic ‘theory of change’, all relevant project data stored in ERuDeF’s system, data collection tools, training materials etc. this information will be provided to the reviewer by ERuDeF and ITF. Any other relevant statistics and secondary sources should also be reviewed by the consultant. The review process requires the Consultant to plan a field visit to some of the project villages to meet with some project participants.

(b) Development of a review approach and data collection tools / methods:

This should include:

  • Detailed time line and work plan
  • Outline of any proposed changes to the scope of the review
  • Key interview questions
  • Proposed sampling framework
  • List of stakeholders to be consulted, and
  • Development of associated data collection and review tools (in addition to the tool already developed to assess Outcome 4, as mentioned above)

ITF and ERuDeF welcome the use of mixed methods, particularly participatory review methods that engage youth, women, men and other participating stakeholders.  

Sample size: Based on a target of 1,330 participants over 3 years, a sample size of approximately 250 participants is required for this review. However, the exact sampling framework is to be proposed by the consultant. The proposed approach should be submitted to ERuDeF and ITF for approval prior to the fieldwork.

Stakeholders to be consulted: The consultant should plan to include the following groups of stakeholders in the review:

  • Direct project participants
  • ERuDeF implementing staff
  • Relevant ITF staff
  • Volunteer Mentors
  • Wider stakeholders (ERuDeF will advise at review design stage) – for example traditional leaders, local government representatives, municipal council staff, etc.

(c) Participate in a briefing meeting with ERuDeF, with participation from ITF (possibly on skype): This should take place immediately prior to the fieldwork.

(d) Field visits: Field visits will take place in Femmock in Bafou North, Mekoup and Balekeu in Bangang, Bawa in Babadjou, Menka in Pinyin clan, Formenji in Bamumbu, Mba-muock in Fossimondi and M’muockmbie, where ERuDeF operations are focused, and should include the agreed sample of participants and stakeholders. This is expected to take 01 week, depending on the exact methodology. This should also include time spent with project staff in ERuDeF’s office in Dschang, as well as Skype interviews with relevant members of the ITF team.

(e) Provide a brief to ERuDeF and ITF (who will join on Skype): using either a draft set of results or PowerPoint presentation to summarise preliminary findings and recommendations. This should be shortly after the end of the field work.

(f) Submit a draft review report: of no more than 25 pages that corresponds to the requirements outlined below in the ‘Deliverables’ section.

(g) Submit a final review report: incorporating any relevant feedback from ERuDeF and ITF.

7. Deliverables

Deliverables should include the following:

  • A review work plan, including: planned timeline, methodology / approach, planned stakeholders to be consulted and sampling framework, data collection and analysis tools, qualitative and quantitative protocols for data collection and analysis.
    • Any suggested improvements to existing review scope, as outlined in this document.
    • Presentation of preliminary findings.
    • Draft review report written in English that meets the requirements outlined below.
    • One (01) electronic file of the final qualitative and quantitative data collected.

8. Final Review Report

The final review report should be error free, clear and written in simple English. The main body of the report should not exceed 25 pages and should include an executive summary, brief project background, and recommendations. Technical information should be included in appendices only. Analysis of project achievements should always be backed up with relevant data, with reference to the data source. Recommendations should be specific and include relevant details for how they might be implemented.

The structure of the report should cover the following:

  • Executive summary (approximately 10% of the final report)
    • Brief project background (approximately 5% of the final report)
    • Main findings relating to the review questions and including detail of any unintended outcomes that are resulting from project activities (At least 40 – 45% of the final report)
    • Recommendations for future action (At least 40% of the final report)

In addition, the final report should contain at least the following annexes:

  • Terms of Reference for final review
  • Itinerary
  • List of meetings attended
  • List of persons interviewed
  • Details of review methodology
  • Summary of field visits
  • List of documents reviewed
  • Any other relevant material, including data collection tools

10. Required Qualification 

  • An advanced University Degree in Forestry, Agriculture, Natural Resources Management, Development Studies, Geography or a related field.
  • Proven experience in conducting a similar task in an international donor-funded project is a great asset.
  • Profound and demonstrated knowledge and experience in landscape restoration and sustainable natural resource management projects.
  • Understanding of the dynamics of rural societies and willingness to travel to traditionally sensitive rural environments.
  • Proven experience in project review and excellent report writing skills.
  • Fluency in written and spoken English and French is highly required.

11. Indicative Schedule of Activities

The review field work is expected to be undertaken by 15th December, 2019. It is essential that the final report is submitted to ERuDeF and ITF by 10th January,2020.

Indicative timeline for the review

Key Tasks Time Period Location
Review of background materials 1st – 5th December   Remote
Submission of methodology, work plan and tools November 10th   Remote – via email
ERuDeF and ITF feedback on methodology, work plan and tools November 12th     ERuDeF Head office and via email
Detailed briefing with ERuDeF/ITF; interviews with ERuDeF and ITF staff; field visits; debrief on findings with ERuDeF and ITF 15th to 25th December 2019 ERuDeF Head office, ERuDeF Dschang, via phone and skype 
Draft report submitted 10th January 2020 Via email
Final report submitted 20th January 2020 Hard and soft copies

Applications for this consultancy should be emailed to info@erudef.org or hq@erudef.org latest on 30th November, 2019 with ‘MBI Mid-term formative Review’ in the subject line. This call for a consultancy service is opened ONLY to Cameroonians.

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