International Consultant for Development of Reintegration of At-Risk Children (ARC)

Location : Abuja, NIGERIA
Application Deadline :11-Dec-20 (Midnight New York, USA)
Additional Category :Democratic Governance and Peacebuilding
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :70 Working Days
Expected Duration of Assignment :70 Working Days

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.


There are approximately 13.2 million out of school children in Nigeria with 69% from Northern Nigeria. The majority of these from the Almajiri system with UNICEF estimating that they make up at least 70% of Nigeria’s out of school children. Precise numbers are hard to come by but there could be as many as 11-15 million in Nigeria today equivalent to 7% of the population.

This system is practiced in Northern Nigeria and refers to young boys (Almajiri) and out of schoolgirls have migrated from their homes in search of Islamic knowledge. The term has expanded to refer to young people who beg on the streets and not in secular education. They are primarily from poor background who study Islamic learning with Malammai(“Mallams”), teachers of the Quran and depend on alms/ begging, child labour, scavenging to survive.

The system today is characterised by social exclusion, chronic poverty and abuse churning out young people with little to no formal education or employable skills posing social and economic challenges to the Government and to Almajiri themselves. The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the issue with deportation of Almajiri children from across different States without any protective safeguards highlighting multiple vulnerabilities.

There is not a lot of reliable information on what happens to them once they reach adulthood. Given their multiple vulnerabilities there have been concerns that Almajiri are at risk of recruitment into armed groups including violent extremist groups. For example, a UNDP pilot study based on interviews with young adults formally associated with Almajiri highlighted some concerns which may increase  their vulnerability to recruitment in armed/violent extremist groups including low levels of education, low understanding of religious texts with 30%  knowing Almajiri friends who had approached or joined armed groups including Boko Haram.

UNICEF data also points to a number of child protection issues facing children. A recent survey based on data from over 6,000 in Kaduna and other northern states found that half were suffering from child neglect, abuse and exploitation whereas others faced psychological and mental distress, health concerns, gender-based violence and children in contact with the law. Many required social services to address these issues including food and nutrition, legal, education, health and counselling services.

The Response: There have been a number of efforts to address this issue before, but they have failed lacking the support of Mallams and communities given deep cultural, social and religious underpinnings. Previous initiatives have also underscored the importance of having in place political leadership which is trusted.  The high levels of trust placed in President Buhari and his Government in the North and amongst the Almajiri provide an opportunity for the current administration to address the Almajiri system.

The ARC Project: Under the leadership of the Special Advisor to the President on Social Investments has devised an initiative to address the Almajiri system and beyond  the plight of children in street situation in Nigeria with a strategy to put in place systems, mechanisms and structures at state  and local government areas level to address this phenomenon.  Addressing this would reduce poverty, insecurity, address health and education challenges and other issues. The project proposes an incentivisation strategy for Mallams and communications strategy for prevention to prevent a resurgence of Almajiri.

Beyond that there is outreach with the Northern Governors Forum to galvanize their support. This has resulted in statements of support for this initiative as well as a stakeholder summit to facilitate mapping. The Project would be tailor made for different affected age groups and targets those at-risk including street affected. There is also a monitoring & evaluation and knowledge management component

Working in partnership with UNICEF and UNDP, the Government will develop the current concept into a fully-fledged and costed offer/ project with objectives as well as milestones and themes/outputs along the lines of those already set out by the Government which would be required as a basis for success of this initiative. The Project should seek to complement and expand on the wide range of actors working in this space to engage these actors not simply as implementers but as active participants in the design and tailoring of the engagements. For this reason, the design phase will factor in broad based consultations to ensure engagements are informed by lessons learned and the context. This will also help ensure a continuous process of cross-fertilisation and adaptation between this project and those of partners.

On completion of the Project, the Consultants in partnership with the Office of the  Special Advisor to the President on Social Investments , UNDP and UNICEF will also support development of  strategy documents, informational materials, briefing notes, costed plans and other materials to support the launch of the Project.

The Consultants will work in close collaboration throughout with Special Adviser to the President on Social Protection, UNDP and UNICEF in development of the Project including development of  methodological note, in-country consultations, development of the Project document , incorporation of comments and validation of the Project as well the launch of the Project by the Government of Nigeria.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Consultant(s) working under the supervision of UNDP & UNICEF and close guidance of the Special Advisor to the President on Social Investments will be responsible for undertaking the following:

  1. Finalise methodological note signed off by Special Advisor to the President on Social Investments Office, UNICEF and UNDP setting out the process for development and finalisation of the ARC Project document. This should include timelines, process to be followed, expected resources required from the Government and UNDP/UNICEF, risks/mitigation strategies and be presented in a brief note plus spreadsheet
  2. Conduct Desk/ literature review of available materials on the Almajiri phenomenon including relevant studies, lessons learned detailing past programming/reform initiatives, lessons learned plus any information relevant to development of the project.
  3. Conduct in-country and virtual consultations with relevant interlocutors including Government, Religious leaders, Practitioners and other relevant interlocutors to inform development of the Project
  4. Develop Concept note detailing main outputs and objectives of the project to be presented and signed off by the Government and which will inform development of the Project Doc
  5. Develop costed project document that includes a theory of Change utilising format agreed with UNDP and UNICEF. Following a validation process the Consultant(s) will incorporate changes and complete a finalised document

Provide substantive support for launch including informational notes, briefings and talking points as required


  • Provide substantive support for launch including informational notes, briefings and talking points as required.
  • Finalization of methodological note including timelines, milestones and process
  • Completion of desk review and in-country consultations.
  • Completion of concept note with theory of change including key objectives and outputs
  • Completion of zero draft project document
  • Completion of costed project document
  • Work with Government and UNDP/UNICEF in preparing for launch, development of informational materials, briefing notes, op-eds etc.;
  • Drafting of final consultancy report with file of docs


  • Demonstrates integrity by modelling the UN’s values and ethical standards
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNDP
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability
  • Treats all people fairly without favouritism
  • Ability to work with a multi-cultural and diverse team
  • Ability to produce high quality research work under pressure of tight schedules and timelines.
  • Ability to understand and interpret governance issues and complex development situations;
  • Good communication skills, written and oral;
  • Ability to motivate staff and work well with others;
  • Ability to plan and priorities, and to work under pressure;
  • Excellent negotiation and diplomatic skills;
  • Proven experience in interacting with senior government and donor counterparts
  • Proven programme design experience

Required Skills and Experience

Educational Qualification:

  • Master’s degree in Human Rights, Peacebuilding, Law, Social Sciences, International Relations, Political Science, or other relevant fields.


  • Senior expert with at least 10 years relevant programme and operational management experience
  • Experience in leading projects/programming relating to children in street situation and/or Almajiris and/or skills/livelihood programming is preferred
  • Knowledge of prevention of violent extremism programming is preferred but not a requirement
  • Experience in design and development of multi-year and multi-partner project/programme documents for the UN is a requirement
  • Previous experience working in the region on peacebuilding, child protection, livelihood/employment and/or rule of law/human rights programming is preferred
  • Knowledge of the context in Nigeria and the Almajiri system in Nigeria is preferred


  • Full proficiency in English;
  • Computer literate.

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