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Evaluation of rainforest project in Colombia

Real-time evaluation of the project “Formalization of Indigenous Councils and territories in non- municipalized areas in the Colombian Amazon”, carried out by Rainforest Foundation Norway, Fundación Gaia Amazonas and Etnollano.

Background

The project goal is for Indigenous Councils to be constituted as political authorities on par with conventional municipalities. The project focuses on 16 indigenous territories and the period of implementation is from May 2019 to December 2021. The project is implemented by Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN), Fundación Gaia Amazonas (Gaia) and Etnollano, further referred to as implementing partners. 

The Political Constitution of Colombia of 1991 recognizes that indigenous peoples have the right to govern their own territories as part of the structure of the state administration. The objective of this project is to consolidate this for 16 indigenous territories, of 12 million hectares combined, through capacity development and official registration of Indigenous Councils.

This was made possible when the former President Santos of the Republic of Colombia on 10 April 2018 signed Decree 632, by which “the fiscal and other regulations necessary to operate the indigenous territories in areas of the Amazon that lack municipalities are enacted”. The decree recognizes Indigenous Councils as a local form of indigenous territorial government that can be given political, judicial, administrative and fiscal power on par with municipalities. As far as we know, this level of recognition of indigenous peoples as self-governed entities within the structure of the state administration is unique in the world.

Today the indigenous territories in question, located in the departments of Amazonas, Guainía and Vaupés, are titled in the name of the ethnic groups that inhabit them. However, the registration, formalization and recognition of Indigenous Councils is fundamental for strengthening their autonomy and the fulfilment of their role as a political and administrative authority with capacity to manage public and private recourses without intermediaries.

To our knowledge, never before has such an approach to rainforest protection and rights been applied in this scale. On that background, we have decided to conduct a real-time evaluation, where the evaluator will follow the project throughout most of the project period. The evaluation work will be carried out in phases, the first starting about 12 months after start-up, the second phase will tentatively be conducted at the beginning of 2021, and the last phase will be carried out immediately after project end. During this period, the evaluation team will consult documentation, carry out interviews and visit project sites.

Purpose

The overall purpose of the real-time evaluation is to produce knowledge that can improve the project during the project period, but also that will guide and inspire future interventions here and elsewhere.

Evaluation users

The main users will be the implementing partners; however, the evaluation will be targeted towards a wider audience consisting of decision makers and other agencies working in similar fields.

 Objectives

he objectives of this evaluation are to assess and monitor the project set-up and its implementation throughout the project period, to suggest improvements/changes to the project while being carried out, and be able to carry out an in-depth analysis of the effects and success of the various components of the project. The outputs from the first parts of the evaluation will be most relevant to the implementing partners. At the same time, they will guide the remainder of the evaluation, and constitute a basis for the final evaluation report.

Evaluation questions

The three evaluation phases will be used to answer the following questions:

 

  • What are the main characteristics of the new administrative model (or models, if different models are developed), and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How is the administrative model(s) that will be set up aligned with the needs of the indigenous authorities?
  • What are the lessons learned from the process of designing an administrative model for the indigenous territories, and for the time frame set to implement it?
  • What is the effect of the capacity building of indigenous leaders, and to what degree has it led to increased administrative knowledge and skills?  
  • What impact, intended or unintended, does the formalisation of indigenous councils have on traditional structures among indigenous people?
  • How sustainable are the project results, what can be done to ensure they are sustainable over time, and how could this be evaluated five years after project end?
  • What is the probability that this project will lead to the impact level goal of the project?
  • What methodologies are developed as part of the project, and how they work?
  • How are the implementing partners managing risk, including planning for risk and handling risk during implementation of the project?
  • How do implementing partners document the process, and how well is the documentation used for learning, knowledge management and monitoring of results, especially when it comes to do necessary adjustments in the project?
  • What are the main characteristics of the new administrative model (or models, if different models are developed), and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How is the administrative model(s) that will be set up aligned with the needs of the indigenous authorities?
  • What are the lessons learned from the process of designing an administrative model for the indigenous territories, and for the time frame set to implement it?
  • What is the effect of the capacity building of indigenous leaders, and to what degree has it led to increased administrative knowledge and skills?  
  • What impact, intended or unintended, does the formalisation of indigenous councils have on traditional structures among indigenous people?
  • How sustainable are the project results, what can be done to ensure they are sustainable over time, and how could this be evaluated five years after project end?
  • What is the probability that this project will lead to the impact level goal of the project?
  • What methodologies are developed as part of the project, and how they work?
  • How are the implementing partners managing risk, including planning for risk and handling risk during implementation of the project?
  • How do implementing partners document the process, and how well is the documentation used for learning, knowledge management and monitoring of results, especially when it comes to do necessary adjustments in the project?

Scope

The evaluation object consists of the project “The Formalization of Indigenous Councils and territories in non- municipalized areas in the Colombian Amazon”; including all relevant documents, the implementing organisations and key stakeholders. The evaluation will follow 2 of the 16 territories throughout the evaluation period. The territories in question will be selected together with implementing partners.

Methodology

The evaluation will be organised over a period of 18-24 months. The work will be carried out in three main phases of investigation (document reviews, interviews, project visits). The two first phases will be followed by an inception report (first phase only) and brief reports of 4-5 pages to the implementing partners and will also feed into the final report. The last phase will result in the main concluding report at the end. The specific organisation of the phases will be suggested by the evaluation team and approved by RFN. This includes how and when to answer the evaluation questions throughout the evaluation period. The evaluation shall be based on recognized evaluation methods, predominantly qualitative. In the inception report, possibilities for more rigorous, perhaps quantitative evaluation methods may be explored and suggested to RFN.

Particular emphasis shall be put on the possibility for representatives of all stakeholders, in particular target groups and marginalised groups, to provide information and share their views freely, and to comment on preliminary analyses and draft reports.

Specific methods and a more elaborate evaluation design will be suggested by the evaluation team and approved by RFN.

Milestones and deliverables

All written deliverable should be in Spanish, with summaries in English. Language in oral presentation will be according to need.

  • Inception report in English specifying evaluation design in detail (proposed methods, plan for data collection, timeline, how and when the evaluation questions will be answered, etc), about 2-4 pages
  • Brief reports (4-5 pages) from the two first phases of the evaluation. The reports should be accompanied by an English summary, appx. 2 pages.
  • Oral presentation and discussion by phone/video from each phase to implementing partners. This will include main findings, suggestions for improvements/changes, and plans for next step.
  • Draft report (include all the key elements of the final report)
  • Final report, not more than 25-30 pages excluding annexes.
  • Presentation of final report (online/video)
  • Inception report in English specifying evaluation design in detail (proposed methods, plan for data collection, timeline, how and when the evaluation questions will be answered, etc), about 2-4 pages
  • Brief reports (4-5 pages) from the two first phases of the evaluation. The reports should be accompanied by an English summary, appx. 2 pages.
  • Oral presentation and discussion by phone/video from each phase to implementing partners. This will include main findings, suggestions for improvements/changes, and plans for next step.
  • Draft report (include all the key elements of the final report)
  • Final report, not more than 25-30 pages excluding annexes.
  • Presentation of final report (online/video)

Specification of final report:

The final report is to be submitted after feedback has been received and integrated into the draft report. The final report should be submitted as a final, proof-read version, in a reader-friendly layout, and submitted electronically.  The report shall be in Spanish and constitute a maximum of 25-30 pages, excluding annexes. It should contain at least the following sections (not exhaustive):

  • Executive summary in Spanish (max 2 pages).
  • Summary in English (about 6 pages, counted as an annex.
  • Introduction and context background;
  • Description of the evaluation questions and methodology for data collection and analysis including scope, constraints, and limitations;
  • Brief description of the project evaluated; 
  • Findings and conclusions;
  • Recommendations for a possible future programming to be implemented by RFN, and for similar interventions elsewhere
  • -Demonstrated research and evaluation skills including research methodologies that include qualitative data collection and analysis
  • -Knowledge of the decree 632 and the formalization of Indigenous Councils in Colombia is an advantage
  • -Experience in accompanying initiatives for the implementation of indigenous territorial and cultural rights in the Amazon
  • -Good understanding of the Colombian context with special relevance for this project, including political context, indigenous peoples and their rights, multi-cultural context, participative methods and/or capacity building
  • -Good understanding of monitoring and evaluation, and results management as practiced in ODA (Official Development Assistance)-funded NGOs
  • -Fluency in Spanish and English, written and orally
  • Executive summary in Spanish (max 2 pages).
  • Summary in English (about 6 pages, counted as an annex.
  • Introduction and context background;
  • Description of the evaluation questions and methodology for data collection and analysis including scope, constraints, and limitations;
  • Brief description of the project evaluated; 
  • Findings and conclusions;
  • Recommendations for a possible future programming to be implemented by RFN, and for similar interventions elsewhere
  • -Demonstrated research and evaluation skills including research methodologies that include qualitative data collection and analysis
  • -Knowledge of the decree 632 and the formalization of Indigenous Councils in Colombia is an advantage
  • -Experience in accompanying initiatives for the implementation of indigenous territorial and cultural rights in the Amazon
  • -Good understanding of the Colombian context with special relevance for this project, including political context, indigenous peoples and their rights, multi-cultural context, participative methods and/or capacity building
  • -Good understanding of monitoring and evaluation, and results management as practiced in ODA (Official Development Assistance)-funded NGOs
  • -Fluency in Spanish and English, written and orally

Timeline and time use

We foresee the evaluation to be carried out in three periods of work during and after the project period. The three phases will be carried out as follows:

The first phase will take place as soon as the evaluator(s) is selected, preferably during April-May 2020. The first phase includes the inception report and the first brief report. Estimated time of work: 6-7 weeks.

Phase two will be carried out around February 2021. Estimated time of work: 4 weeks.

Phase three will be carried our right after the end of the project period, which is planned to finish by the end of December 2021. The draft report should be submitted in the beginning of March 2022. Estimated time of work: 6 weeks.

In the case of changing needs during the implementation of the project, the evaluation design may be changed, or the real-time evaluation cancelled.

Travel and budget

The consultant will be expected to make her/his/their own arrangements for travels to/from Bogotá. RFN will assist with travel to partners in the project area.

We ask evaluators to present a budget based on the estimated time frame above. This should include specification of daily fees, all travel costs to/from/in Bogotá, and other costs relevant for carrying out the evaluation.

Qualification and composition of the team: 

The evaluation will be carried out by one or more consultants, with well documented experience from evaluation, or from working with civil society organizations at global, regional or national levels. Experience with indigenous peoples’ organisations would be an asset. Among the proposed teams, RFN will select the team that provides best value for money based on a consideration of a) to what extent the team is well suited for the task, emphasising in-depth expertise (including academic work) and the relevance for the evaluation of the specific technical expertise and experience of the team member(s), b) proposal of how the evaluator(s) will conduct the work and c) the costs expressed in daily fees.

 When assessing the qualifications of the team, RFN will particularly emphasize the following:

Consultant’s proposal

Candidates interested in submitting a proposal should register by Friday 20th of March to the following email address: siribl@rainforest.no.

Candidates will be given the programme description and results framework. Questions regarding the assignment can be submitted and the answers will be shared with all registered candidates.

The candidates must submit the following, in English or Spanish

  • CV of all consultants in the team, and a brief summary (maximum two pages combined) of their qualifications.
  • Budget as specified above. If team members have different fees, the expected division of labour between them must be indicated.
  • Proposed methodology for carrying out the work, including timeline and how/when to focus on the evaluation questions, 2-3 pages.
  • CV of all consultants in the team, and a brief summary (maximum two pages combined) of their qualifications.
  • Budget as specified above. If team members have different fees, the expected division of labour between them must be indicated.
  • Proposed methodology for carrying out the work, including timeline and how/when to focus on the evaluation questions, 2-3 pages.

Proposals must be sent to stilling@rainforest.no by Friday 3rd of April 2020.