Request for Proposal No.: RFP‐AFG‐KBL 009-October -2022 for the provision of Consultancy Services for a Research Project on Principled Humanitarian P

Danish Refugee Council


Research Topic: Principled Humanitarian Programming in Afghanistan

Country: Afghanistan

Duration: November 2022 to February 2023

Reporting to: Research Steering Committee

Unit/department: Afghanistan Country Office

Location: All of Afghanistan

Background Information:

The humanitarian community recognizes that humanitarian principles should lie at the heart of any response, particularly in situations of armed conflict. These principles are enshrined in the ‘European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid’ adopted by the institutions of the European Union (EU) and the Member States in December 2007 and in International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Afghanistan presents a complicated humanitarian environment for organizations to navigate, requiring localized contextual analysis, consistent engagement with stakeholders and coordination amongst the humanitarian community to ensure humanitarian principles are respected and that the response is effective in meeting its objectives. This requires an analysis of the interface between community needs, access, response modalities, and coordination structures vis-a-vis the Humanitarian Principles that guide the response.

Purpose of the Research and Intended Use:

The research will aim to develop an understanding of the challenges and dilemmas encountered, and the decisions undertaken, in relation to existing structures through which aid is coordinated, negotiated, delivered and accessed. The research will look at how organizations pursue principled humanitarian action in the delivery of assistance, in adherence to the core humanitarian principles of Independence, Impartiality, Neutrality and Humanity in Afghanistan. The focus of the research is the humanitarian sector, including its complex architecture and diverse membership, and the processes for coordinating and delivering aid. With this background, the study aims to provide a platform for reflection about aid actors, and from aid actors as a community of practice, as well as result in concrete recommendations for the HCT to take forward.

Specifically, the research will look at:

(a) The implementation of programmes/projects at the field level including delivery, access negotiations and structures/modalities through which aid is delivered;

(b) Coordination of the response in the field including sub-national and national levels;

(c) Assess the current capacity and needs amongst frontline actors to effectively undertake negotiations around principled delivery of assistance in their target areas; and

(d) How principled decisions are collectively taken within the response to address humanitarian dilemmas.

The findings will be presented in various forums. The following list includes proposed forums, but is not exhaustive:

  1. Humanitarian Country Team
  2. ICVA
  3. ACBAR
  4. HAWG

The purpose of the study is not to review a specific organization’s programme or operations. The purpose is to engage various partners representing a significant sample of the Afghanistan humanitarian architecture and to determine whether existing coordination mechanisms and implementation modalities are effective in enabling principled responses and achieving “do no harm” outcomes. Findings and feedback of specific organizations will be anonymized when determined necessary by the steering committee (see section on Coordination and Management of the Research**)**.

The study will review existing efforts and accountability frameworks for the operationalization of humanitarian principles in contexts such as Afghanistan, characterized by increased physical access but deteriorating space and capacities to implement relevant, principled approaches due to increasing attempts of interference and bureaucratic access impediments (BAI). The research report will be influenced by reflections on the extent to which established modes of programme implementation and delivery of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan enables or hinders principled response. This reflection will entail interfacing with organizations that cut across the Afghanistan humanitarian response, whose diverse mandates and operations have culminated in a multifaceted approach to needs in the country.

In addition, the study shall reflect upon findings from similar studies conducted in Yemen and Iraq, making relevant comparisons and drawing recommendations to the benefit of the humanitarian response, beyond Afghanistan. The research should include broader lessons learnt and best practices to be presented in global forums with explicit interest in strengthening the capacities to implement principled humanitarian interventions.

Scope of Work and Lines of Inquiry:

Needs and barriers

  • How do the current bureaucratic access impediments and attempts of interference affect the capacity of actors to deliver assistance according to humanitarian principles and achieve “do no harm” outcomes?
  • How do existing structures/processes for delivering aid affect partners’ capacity to effectively deliver assistance in a principled manner?
  • What is our understanding of the impact of inefficient/unprincipled responses on our capacity to meet the need of affected populations (see inclusion/exclusion of specific groups, increase in BAIs, etc.)?

Delivery of humanitarian assistance

  • To what extent does the Afghanistan’s humanitarian response strategy, represented in the study by the collective sum of all individual organizations engaged in this research, leverage the humanitarian imperative to address the most significant needs
  • To what extent does the diversity of implementation modalities represented within the humanitarian response strategy, and by the collective sum of organizations involved, impact adherence to principled implementation and achieving “do no harm” outcomes
  • To what extent do existing structures and processes for delivering aid, including but not limited to petition lists, community referral mechanisms, engagement of traditional community structures – shuras/jirgas – and the community development committees, allow for a principled delivery of humanitarian assistance
  • To what extent do field operations reflect the Afghanistan’s humanitarian response strategy or the aims of the programme strategy with regards to the humanitarian imperative and humanitarian principles
  • How has assistance been perceived by beneficiaries regarding humanitarian principles and are there differences in perceptions between stakeholders and beneficiaries
  • How have donors’ strategies and decisions impacted partners’ willingness and ability to mainstream the humanitarian principles throughout programmes and coordination
  • What are the key challenges for each of the humanitarian principles and accountability that organizations face; in what ways do these challenges impact effective programming
  • What are the mitigating measures (capacity building, programming, advocacy, negotiation, etc.) that organizations adopt when forced to compromise humanitarian principles; how do compromises, if any, impact the effectiveness of programming
  • Is there any evidence of actions taken by humanitarian organizations to address compromised humanitarian principles and what were the implications
  • Are the humanitarian principles used to externally communicate the organisations motivation, objectives, and ethos


  • To what extent has Afghanistan’s humanitarian response, represented in the study by the collective sum of all individual organizations engaged in the assessment, succeeded in engaging with authorities and community stakeholders/ structures in a coordinated, principled and effective manner
  • To what extent have organizations’ engagement strategies proven effective in delivering principled, coordinated aid, and to analyse the cost benefit of spending time/resources in doing so
  • To what extent do organizations think that the various coordination forums and humanitarian leadership mechanisms adopt a humanitarian and coordinated approach in engaging authorities from a principled perspective
  • Do the current coordination forums support (directly or indirectly) organizations in delivering principled assistance
  • To what extend does the decentralized nature of the Afghanistan humanitarian response impact principled engagement and principled delivery of assistance


  • Is there a correlation between principled delivery of humanitarian assistance and access, defined as the capacity to reach and to be reached by target communities without impediments and interference
  • Does evidence suggest a link between an organisation’s sustained presence in a location and the ability to deliver principled humanitarian assistance
  • To what extent do organizations perceive they have good and consistent acceptance by authorities and community leadership, and whether that acceptance will allow them to deliver principled humanitarian assistance; if not, what can be done to improve the acceptance needed for facilitating aid delivery without compromising principles
  • How have organizations maintained presence in their areas of operations and has this led, or not, to increased accountability with various stakeholders
  • How has the organisation incorporated the need to obtain and secure access as part of its humanitarian programme
  • How does the Afghanistan humanitarian response define “hard to reach” in the current access environment and have humanitarian principles been impacted while negotiating access to these populations and areas


The research will conclude with a set of recommendations to promote principled humanitarian programming in the Afghanistan humanitarian response. Additionally, comparative analysis with similar studies conducted in Yemen and Iraq will allow reflection and recommendations on broader issues enabling or impacting agencies’ capacity to deliver humanitarian assistance in contexts characterized by severe yet different access impediments.


To answer the research’s lines of enquiry, DRC would like the research/research team to submit a proposal with study design and methodology, which focuses on participatory and qualitative methods to assess the key humanitarian principles and their operationalization within the Afghanistan’s humanitarian response strategy. DRC seeks a researcher with demonstrable experience of similar research. The research should primarily be conducted in-country with an emphasis on in-person data collection wherever feasible.

As a minimum, the methodology should include a desk review of key documents, including analysis of existing quantitative data, semi-structured interviews with key informants (INGOs staff including both management and field staff, NGOs staff including both management and field staff, different types of beneficiary group leaders, UN agency staff etc.), focus group discussions with beneficiaries and methods to seek the views and perceptions of various stakeholders including the beneficiaries. Geographical area of coverage should assess the different humanitarian approaches applied in different geographical areas considering different level of coherence with humanitarian principles.


The research team will conduct a review of the current “access environment” across Afghanistan including the HCT endorsed Engagement Strategy. The research team will review the current access environment and identify impediments that may hinder organizations’ capacities to reach and be reached by target communities in a principled manner.

The proposal should engage with the Humanitarian Access Working Group (HAWG) and its members and review studies by external researchers that have been conducted in Afghanistan.


The research organization will be expected to respect data collection ethics, and a consent process should be proposed and agreed upon with DRC which ensure privacy of interviewees, but also upholds the integrity of the research. This verification exercise will be crucial to ensure the protection of informants and protect against any unfounded claims of misrepresentation in the final report.

Research, Follow up and Learning:

The preliminary findings will be presented to the Steering Committee for feedback and inputs before final publication. In addition, one working session will be conducted to review the report.

Research Principles

The views expressed in the report shall be based on the independent and professional opinion of the research team, grounded in the outcomes of the data collection and analysis conducted. The research should be conducted in a transparent and independent manner. The research will be guided by the following ethical considerations:

  • Openness – of information given to the highest possible degree to all involved parties
  • Confidentiality and data protection – measures will be put in place to protect the identity of all participants and any other information that may put them or others at risk.
  • Public access – to the results when there are not special considerations against this
  • Broad participation – the relevant parties should be involved where possible
  • Reliability and independence – the research should be conducted so that findings and conclusions are correct and trustworthy


In addition to the circulation of the findings, presentations on the findings co-facilitated by DRC and the research team will be essential to communicate and discuss the research. These will include:

  • At least four in-country presentations (HCT, HAWG, ACBAR, Donors group and other if deemed appropriate)
  • One international presentation (for example at European Humanitarian Forum, tentatively scheduled for March 2023)

The research team would be required to attend such events, to share findings, experiences etc.

Coordination and Management of the Research:

The research team will be supported by Steering Committee. The Steering Committee members will be invited to a kick-off meeting with the selected consultant to review and finalize the research lines of inquiry prior to the start of data collection. The steering committee will make decisions based on the majority, not based on consensus building, to ensure the committee can drive decisions and be valuable contributors to the research.

The Steering Committee comprised of UN, civil society representatives and donors will oversee the administration and overall coordination, including monitoring progress of the research.

Deliverables and Reporting Deadlines:

The research team will agree with DRC on a timetable of deliverables to be utilized throughout the research period, such that the data and observations collected can be instrumentalized in real time in appropriate in-country forums. Ultimately, the research team will submit three reports. As well as four in country presentations, and one international invite only presentation; the deadlines to be agreed with the consultant.

  • Inception report: Following the desk review and prior to beginning fieldwork, the consultant will produce an inception report subject to review by the Steering Committee. This report will detail a draft work plan with a summary of the primary information needs, the methodology to be used, and a work plan/schedule for field visits and major deadlines. With respect to methodology, the consultant needs to provide a description of how data will be collected and a sampling framework, data sources, and drafts of suggested data collection tools such as questionnaires and interview guides, preferably against the research questions (not generically stated). Once the report is finalised and accepted, the consultant must submit a request for any change in strategy or approach to the Steering Committee. First draft inception report is due by day 15 since the signature of the contract and final version submitted no later than day 21.
  • Draft research report: A draft research report needs to be submitted to the Steering Committee no later than day 65-70, with a presentation on key findings; feedback will be provided to the researcher by day 75.
  • Final Research report: Submission is due within 90 daysfrom the signature of the contractto the Steering Committee**.**
  • Five presentations: These are in country and international presentations (may be virtual, but attendees will be Afghanistan-level attendees) which will invite relevant stakeholders to present the findings, lessons learned and follow up. Presentations shall take place between day 90 and day 120 of the consultancy period unless agreed with the Steering Committee.
  • Presentation to ECHO, regional/HQ: An invite only event organized by DRC for relevant stakeholders (Invitation list to be determined by ECHO and the Steering Committee at a later date). To be a live event following a similar format as the in-country presentation, with the adaptations considered following country level feedback to the original presentation.

All material collected in the undertaking of the research process shall be submitted to the Chair of the Steering Committee prior to the termination of the contract. The language used for the deliverables will be English.

Timeframe and Budget

Proposal should present a budget for the number of expected working days over the entire period of the research including the development of inception report, tools, planning and conducting fieldwork, analysis, reporting and presentations. The total budget will be analysed based on timeline, deliverables and workplan.

The researcher/ team lead is expected to provide a suggested timeline and work plan for the Research based on these scheduling parameters and in keeping with the scope of the Research questions and criteria. Considering the complicated issue of access in Afghanistan, this factor should be kept in mind for the proposal, but an understandable level of flexibility will be provided to researchers based on this.

In event of serious problems or delays, the researcher/ team leader should inform the Steering Committee immediately. Any significant changes to review timetables need to be approved by the Steering Committee in advance.

Experience and technical competencies:

  • 10+ years of experience with working in humanitarian contexts (preferably in conflict zones) in a senior management position.
  • Strong understanding of the political and humanitarian context in Afghanistan and the region
  • Ability to analyse quantitative and qualitative data, including qualitative data collection techniques
  • Experience with UN, INGO, donors and coordination forums
  • Strong knowledge and understanding of protection, refugee rights and international humanitarian law.
  • Sound and proven experience in conducting evidence based on OECD-DAC researcher criteria, particularly utilisation and learning focused research
  • Extensive experience of theories of change and how they can be used to carry out research
  • Background in International Humanitarian Law
  • Experience with similar research

Behavioural competencies:

  • Fluency in written and spoken English is required;
  • Extensive experience working in conflict zones, prior experience in Afghanistan, preferred
  • Proven experience of managing research of humanitarian projects
  • Experience of designing qualitative data collection methods, of managing participatory and learning focused research and analytical skills

For the proposal, please submit:

1. Technical Proposal (no more than six pages) outlining how the consultant or consultancy company will undertake the learning journey, including

  • The background of the consultant or company (incl. a summary of the relevant qualifications and experiences of the consultant or consultancy company)
  • The proposed methodology for the learning journey.
  • Proposed Workplan
  • Risk mitigation plan
  1. A cover letter, including commitment to availability for the duration of the assignment
  2. A financial proposal showing daily rate
  3. Proposed workplan for the consultancy
  4. 1 or more examples of similar work completed in past
  5. 2 reference contacts
  6. DRC Annexes: Supplier Registration form, Supplier Code of Conduct, and General Condition of Contract.

Evaluation of Consultants

  • Administrative Evaluation

A bid shall pass the administrative evaluation stage before being considered for technical and financial evaluation. Bids that are deemed administratively non-compliant will be rejected. Documents listed above must be submitted with the bid.

  • Technical/financial Evaluation

Technical/Finance proportion: 75/25

Minimum passing technical score 50

The technical criteria for this consultancy and their weighting in the technical evaluation are:

Technical criteria #

Technical criteria

Weighting in technical evaluation


Technical quality of the bid



Demonstrated understanding of the methodology and requested deliverables, all important components of the ToR are sufficiently addressed and considered.



Style, language, sophistication, and presentation.






A strong understanding and experience with on the ground humanitarian research.

Extensive experience and engagement with policy and advocacy around complex humanitarian context.

Proven experience in Afghanistan



Experience conducting similar studies on humanitarian access and principled delivery of humanitarian assistance

Previous experience conducting the same study in other contexts



Proven experience in presenting and disseminating research to internal and external stakeholders



Financial Evaluation*


Total Maximum Score


*Financial Evaluation: the total amount of points allocated for the financial scoring component is 25. The maximum number of points will be allotted to the lowest priced proposal that is opened and compared among those firms/institutions, which obtain the threshold points in the evaluation of the technical component. All other price proposals will receive points in proportion to the lowest financial proposal using the inverse proportion principle: (lower_bid price) *(fin_weighting_proportion) / (next bid price)

[1] Defined in this study as the capacity of organization to reach and be reached by target communities in a principled manner, without impediments and interference

How to apply

Interested firms/individuals can apply through below link

for any further clarification please send email to below

Afghanistan Procurement [email protected]

*Closing date: 16-Oct-22