Terms of Reference for the development of the Communication Strategy of the MRU Secretariat

July 1, 2020 12:30 pm

Title: Communication Expert Consultant

Location: Sierra Leone, Freetown

Duration: 30 Working Days on a three-month period


1.0 Background

The West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) Program is a five-year effort funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The overall goal of WA BiCC is to improve biodiversity conservation and promote climate-resilient and low-emission development across West Africa, with a focus on three core thematic areas. These are: Combatting Wildlife Trafficking; Increasing Coastal Resilience to Climate Change, and Reduce Deforestation, Forest Degradation and Biodiversity Loss. WA BiCC is regional in scope and design yet also focuses on targeted geographical areas within West Africa, which include two coastal and five transboundary forest ‘Learning Landscapes’. WA BiCC works with three core regional partners: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mano River Union (MRU) and the Abidjan Convention, and with targeted national and sub-national institutions, to increase the capacity of institutions at all levels and to strengthen the linkages between effective practices on the ground and policies that can support positive and locally appropriate outcomes. The program is bolstered by a series of cross-cutting ties to knowledge management and learning, capacity building, gender and social inclusion and advocacy.

The Mano River Union (MRU) is an intergovernmental organization with a Secretariat based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The MRU is comprised of four Member States – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea. These countries contain the last and largest intact fragments of the once sprawling Upper Guinean Forest, and their conservation and management is key to the economic and environmental well-being and growth of this subregion and West Africa overall.

WA BiCC and MRU  have worked closely to review and revised the MRU`s Strategic Plan and to develop an accompanying Action Plan to update and integrate the current priorities and ambitions of the MRU Heads of State for the sub-region that better reflect the realities of the new decade.

Various actors highlight the key role played by the Secretariat to coordinate activities and to ensure lasting peace in a prosperous region and ensure that economic growth and environmental stewardship are seen as mutually essential. The Secretariat’s challenge is to ensure effective and efficient coordination and communications among regional, national and local partners.

2.0 Justification

‘The 2020-2025 Strategic Plan makes explicit the importance and necessity of new challenges resulting from the  Paris Agreement on Climate Change under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements such as the CITES to combat wildlife trafficking and the Abidjan Convention Protocols and the Convention of Biodiversity for the management of marine and terrestrial resources. To effectively implement the Strategy and Action Plans and coordinate and communicate with Member States and the diverse stakeholder base in the subregion, a robust Communications Strategy is required.

To address this need, WA BiCC and the MRU are recruiting a Communications Expert/Specialist consultant to develop a Communications Strategy covering the needs of the Secretariat and more specifically the effective implementation of its Strategic and Action Plan in coordination with Member States and other regional partners, notably ECOWAS and the Abidjan Convention.

3.0 Description of the activity

 The activity is to develop the Communications Strategy of the Secretariat tailored to the needs of the Secretariat in promoting and coordinating regional activities within the framework of the implementation of the MRU’s revised Strategic Plan and to provide a wider visibility of the Secretariat’s activities.

4.0 Objectives

The consultant will work in close collaboration with the Secretariat’s identified focal point, WA BiCC’s Capacity Building and Policy Specialists and WA BiCC’s Communications Team to achieve the following specific objectives:

  • Develop the Communication Strategy for Mano River Union
  • Develop Communication Action Plans and Implementation Framework based on the four pillars of the Strategic Plan
  • Propose resource (technical and financial) mobilization options and recommendations to support the implementation of the Action Plans
  • Strengthen relevant MRU secretariat staff on communication tools social media, behavior change communication and advocacy

5.0 Activities

  • Assess the needs for internal and external communication and information sharing of the Secretariat in consultation with identified stakeholders such as the MRU Communication officer and the WA BiCC Communications Unit and the relevant regional organizations in the subregion and West Africa more broadly;
  • Conduct a desktop review based on research and documents provided by the Secretariat, WA BiCC and other sources;
  • Identify the different strategic groups and organizations at the national and regional levels which shall be considered as targets of the Communications Strategy;
  • Map out existing networks, knowledge-management platforms and other initiatives to be integrated into the strategy;
  • Develop the general framework of the Communication Strategy document including the different sections and main parts of the final document;
  • Produce a final communication strategy including actions plans to integrate all the feedback with Final recommendations for implementation (inclusive of all inputs collected from various experts or stakeholders);
  • Develop training materials on communication tools social media, behavior change communication and advocacy;
  • Conduct the training on social media, behavior change communication and advocacy for the staff of the Secretariat in Freetown and the Member State representatives;
  • Propose resource (technical and financial) mobilization options and recommendations to support the implementation of the strategy

6.0 Specific Tasks, Level of Effort and Deliverables

The consultancy will last thirty (30) working days spread over three months. The level of effort (LOE) allocated for this activity is 30 days distributed as follows:


7.0 Reporting

The consultant will work directly with the Secretariat’s designated focal point in Freetown and will coordinate his/her work with WA BiCC’s Freetown-based Capacity Building Specialist. To ensure the successful achievement of this Terms of Reference, and contractual compliance, the consultant will report directly to the WA BiCC Capacity Development Specialist, the Secretary-General of the MRU or her designate and consult regularly with the WA BiCC Communications Unit.

8.0 Required Qualifications

The Consultant must be an experienced Communications Specialist with the following requirement:

  • Master’s degree or a related advanced degree in communication, communication for development (C4D), international development, journalism, social marketing or a field relevant to media/communication and development.
  • At least 10 years of working experience with evidence of achievements in the areas of communication, advocacy, information and knowledge management, information technology and other related topics;
  • Experience in designing and implementing communications strategies related to environmental policies and strategies and materials in the context of a climate change or natural resource management projects will be an asset;
  • Experience using social media tools to advance publicity and advocacy campaign messages;
  • Strong experience in collaborating with regional institutions particularly on capacity strengthening and communication activities;
  • Strong writing, facilitation, research and analytical skills;
  • Ability to effectively coordinate with appropriate stakeholders in all aspects of communication activity planning;
  • Ability to work independently and produce timely and high-quality results;
  • Be fluent in both English and French;
  • Candidates who are nationals of an MRU member state will be preferred.

9.0 Mode of application

Interested candidates are solicited to send their application no later than July 7th, 2020 at 5:00 pm Freetown local time to the following email wabiccrecruit@gmail.com

To be considered, applicants must submit the following:

  • A letter of application explaining individual qualifications for this opportunity
  • A current CV in reverse chronological format
  • A list of at least 4 professional references including name, contact information, and statement of relationship to the referee

Applications that do not meet the minimum requirements listed above will not be considered


Fields with (*) are compulsory.

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