Consultant – Youth-Led Systems Labor Market Assessment – remote with travel to DRC

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)




Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world. Mercy Corps partners to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Mercy Corps has been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since August 2007, with a staff of around 400 people working in Eastern DRC, with the overall country goal being to support vulnerable communities through crises while fostering programs that build resilience and promote long-term change. Mercy Corps’ national office is in Goma, with sub-field offices in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. Mercy Corps DRC’s key programming areas include a combination of longer-term development and immediate humanitarian response programs to 1) Improve water service delivery and ensure equitable access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services, in urban and rural areas; 2) Improve food security and nutrition; 3) Promote diversified livelihoods, economic recovery and development; 4) Support peacebuilding and local governance. Mercy Corps DRC’s humanitarian programs aim specifically to assist populations affected by the conflict and crisis in Eastern Congo.

Project Description

In September of 2023, Mercy Corps signed an agreement with the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA-USAID) to implement the Graduating to sustainable Agriculture, Income, Nutrition, and food Security (GAINS) Program. GAINS is a five-year, USD 105.7 million Resilient Food Security Activity (RFSA) to sustainably improve Food, Nutrition, and Economic Security (FNES) in Kasai through two Purposes and five Sub-Purposes.

  • Purpose 1: Strengthened Livelihoods and Increased Incomes

SP1.1: Improved usage of credit and capital

SP1.2: Increased profitable, diverse enterprises and IGAs

SP1.3: Increased sustainable agricultural production

  • Purpose 2: Improved utilization of quality food among vulnerable people

SP2.1: Improved maternal, infant, and young child nutrition behaviors (MIYCN)

SP2.2: Improved WASH behaviors

GAINS theory of change emphasizes pathways for building resilience, including increasing access and use of resilience capacities to address climate and conflict shocks and stresses for improved food, nutrition and economic security.

The Mercy Corps-led GAINS consortium includes four international (World Vision, AVSI, and IITA/CIP) and five local (Action Paysanne, APC, Inter-Actions, SDC, SANRU) organizations. The design of GAINS is guided by four foundational principles: locally-led and people-centered, sensitivity to power and conflict dynamics, and landscape vision for climate adaptation at scale. GAINS will be implemented through a multi-sectoral, climate and conflict sensitive and gender transformative approach to support food, nutrition and economic security. Specific attention will be paid to resilience, social inclusion and power dynamics considerations across the program’s various sectors of intervention.

Under SP 1.2. (“Increased profitable, diverse enterprises and IGAs”), GAINS aims to support program participants to gain employment and start their own enterprises. In order to refine its approach in this area, the GAINS program is conducting a Youth-Led Systems Labor Market Assessment (SLMA), which will provide recommendations for specific interventions and potential partnerships to make the market system more inclusive, resilient, efficient and productive.


The Youth-led SLMA falls under SP 1.2 (Increased profitable, diverse enterprises and IGAs) and is one of GAINS’s primary assessments during this initial program “Refinement” phase. The assessment will be conducted to identify existing and potential employment and market opportunities, building the foundation of GAINS’ Purpose 1 (Strengthened livelihoods and increased incomes) market approach. The Youth-led SLMA will analyze the functions and rules of target labor markets to identify how GAINS can leverage opportunities for reducing labor market barriers and inefficiencies, and increase impact.

The SLMA will provide GAINS with actionable and contextually relevant information about:

  1. System-level constraints and opportunities of existing labor markets, including root causes for labor market inefficiencies;
  2. Gaps and opportunities for the establishment and growth of new labor markets;
  3. Actors, rules, and relationships that influence key market sub-sectors;
  4. Incentives and risk perception of existing labor demand- and supply-side actors (especially vis-à-vis young men and women);
  5. Existing, local service providers offering technical and other complementary skills for the labor market (including entrepreneurs).

Consultant Objectives:

The assessment will employ a staged approach to data collection and specifically be divided into four stages as outlined below. The approach is based on Mercy Corps’ Market System Development (MSD) assessment methodology, which relies on both primary and secondary data. In addition, the stages of the MSD methodology are paired with youth-led methods based on best practices identified through desk research which informed this SoW and will further be used as the study methodology and research tools are developed, tested, and finalized.

  • The first stage will consist of a desk review to provide a preliminary overview of the current economic climate, the participation of youth (and especially young women) in the local economy of Kasai, and a list of existing and possible future markets in which youth (and especially young women) could participate.
  • The second stage will consist of conducting a preliminary sector selection exercise, by answering the following question: “Which sectors currently absorb labor and which are likely to see increases in employment, particularly for youth?” (USAID-Youth Power, 2018)
  • The third stage will involve a deeper dive into the selected three to four high-potential market systems, investigating market dysfunctions and root causes for low youth employment, for both male and female youth. In this stage, perspectives of several key groups will be gathered to achieve the outlined objectives, with different tools being used for each group:
    • Interviews of local business employers
    • Focus group discussions (FGDs) with youth
    • Interviews with value chain actors
    • Supplemental Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with government officials, NGO staff, training institutes and private sector actors
  • The fourth and final stage will involve an analysis of opportunities and growth pathways for youth employment in off-farm, non-farm, and on-farm jobs. After synthesizing and combining the findings from stage three, a sensemaking exercise will be conducted to refine the proposed intervention in P1. The exercise will be led by the assessment lead/s, youth, and will also include other members of the GAINS team. As described in further detail below, once this final stage is completed, the youth will lead in a series of dissemination exercises in the target areas.

A Youth-Led Approach

From the start of the SLMA, all efforts will be made to ensure that the assessment is youth-led. A core set of youth from the target Health Zones will be selected and engaged from the start, with the expectation that they may lead or co-lead every step of the process until the end. This includes helping in fine-tuning the design, gathering data, and participating in the data analysis and interpretation, as well as help wider communications and messaging around the study. Additional youth beyond the initial core group will also be brought on board to support in various stages of the study. As it sets out to involve youth throughout this study, GAINS will seek to establish a locally acceptable way of doing so and consider any protection considerations (i.e. vulnerabilities, risks, etc.), especially with respect to female youth.

Consultant Activities:

For the realization of the aforementioned deliverables, the consultant will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Review the study’s SOW approved by the donor and other existing documents, including the Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework, a desk review document of youth-led SLMAs, research questions, methodology and sampling strategy.
  • Propose any major changes to the methodology.
  • Conduct a desk review, as per Stage 1 of the initial SoW, or as per proposed changes to the SoW.
  • In consultation with GAINS team, lead a process of sector selections, to refine the study’s scope.
  • Design data collection tools for review by the GAINS team.
  • Support preparation for training of data collection teams.
  • Participate in training of a data collection team (in person).
  • Conduct and/or participate in some KIIs/FGDs, as needed.
  • Help ensure data management plans are in place, including transcription.
  • Analyze and summarize findings.
  • Prepare and deliver a presentation of findings.
  • Prepare a draft report based on findings.
  • Co-lead feedback/validation exercise to solidify recommendations.
  • Finalize report based on team inputs.
  • Ensure youth are participating, leading, or co-leading in every step of the assessment.
  • Bring a gender and social inclusion lens to every stage of the study.
  • Participate in consultation calls/meetings during the tool development and analysis process, especially when learning about and discussing preliminary findings.
  • Maintain regular professional contact with the program team on the progress of the deliverables.
  • Request any information from the program team that may be critical to support the study.
  • Be available to clarify questions and drafts.
  • Provide quality drafts and final deliverables as per schedule.

Mercy Corps Responsibilities

Mercy Corps will provide the Consultant with the necessary support to undertake and implement the assignment and execute the objective of this SoW. Such responsibilities include:

  • Provide relevant documents and technical support to the Consultant.
  • Orient the consultant on any relevant program and institutional information.
  • Support the desk review process with the consultant by providing documents (if necessary) and feedback.
  • Provide review of final study design, tool development, data collection, data analysis, and report finalization process.
  • Arrange the data collection plan, hire and manage enumerators, and allocate field supervision to liaise timely with the consultant for technical support.
  • Monitor regularly, provide feedback, and ensure the effectiveness of the study.
  • Disburse payment as per the agreed schedule in the Consulting Contract.
  • Support the documentation of collected data on the field.
  • Provide details on the primary audience for the report brief and will advise on how to tailor the report for the audience.
  • Ensure translation of data collection tools to/from French to/from local language (if necessary).
  • Provide local translators from French to local languages for interviews, as needed.
  • Cover/provide transportation for any travel related to this consultancy.
  • Reimburse lodging, daily meals and incidental expenses during any travel related to this consultancy.

Consultant Deliverables:

The consultant will be responsible for the below deliverables to be completed in the indicated timelines. The detail activity timeline suppose to be submitted by the consultant with the technical proposal document

  • A summary of key findings from desk review and sector-selection exercise.

Task 1.1 Compile and assess existing data/reports/publications

Task 1.2 Liaise with GAINS team and youth advisory group on the ground to gather additional relevant foundational information, as needed

Task 1.3 Lead discussions/meetings with youth advisory group and GAINS team for sector selection process

  • A refined methodology and data collection tools, to be reviewed by the GAINS and research team.

Task 2.1 Refine methodology/research questions based on desk review, in collaboration with youth advisory group

Task 2.2 Co-design tools with youth advisory group

NB: The study tools will then be piloted by the data collection team and the consultant will lead on revising inputs afterwards.

  • A training of youth enumerators

Task 3.1 Prepare training materials

Task 3.2 Conduct in-person training in Tshikapa

Task 3.3 Revise tools based on feedback and pilot results

Task 3.4 Provide support in early phases of data collection

  • A PowerPoint presentation that illustrates the key findings of the report.

Task 4.1 Clean and code data

Task 4.2 Analyze data

Task 4.3 Capture key findings

  • A draft SLMA report including background, methodology, findings and limitations.

Task 5.1 Validate and gather feedback on the findings

Task 5.2 Write draft report

  • A final draft of the SLMA report

Task 6.1 Finalize report based on feedback from Mercy Corps, in English, (not to exceed 50 pages), which builds off of the draft, and also includes an executive summary, recommendations, endnotes, and annexes.

NB: An action plan may also be included as part of the report depending on the project’s ability to run a sensemaking workshop prior to the report submission deadline.

Timeframe / Schedule:

The anticipated dates for the consultancy would be for the consultancy to start on May 15, 2024 and end on August 15, 2024. The total estimated LOE is 40 days.

The consultant will charge Mercy Corps for the days used, not the estimated level of effort. Should the work require more time than the estimate, the consultant will agree on priorities and confirm changes to the consultancy work plan in writing.

The Consultant will report to:

The consultant will report to the GAINS Strategic Learning Advisor.

The Consultant will work closely with:

The Chief of Party and Deputy Chief of Party, the GYSI Lead, the GAINS Senior Management Team, including relevant staff across the consortium.

Skills and Knowledge Requirements

  • Have a minimum of five years of experience in program’s assessments & research design and implementation.
  • Master degree or equivalent required in Development Studies, Sociology, Agriculture or a related field.
  • Experience in conducting livelihood and/or market assessments, preferably using the Market Systems Development (MSD) approach.
  • Demonstrated ability to analyze both in qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis
  • Specific experience and expertise in data analysis and recommendations for program interventions; ideally within a USAID/BHA-funded Resilient Food Security Activity (RFSA).
  • Research skills and capacity-sharing experience.
  • Experience in participatory approaches (ideally youth-led); development of tools for focus group discussions and conducting face-to-face and virtual interviews, processing and analyzing qualitative data.
  • Ability to work effectively and collaboratively under tight deadlines.
  • Fluent in spoken and written English and French.
  • Qualitative analytical skills and knowledge of qualitative analysis software such as MAXQDA or NViVo.
  • Experience in conducting labor-market assessments is preferred.

Diversity, Equity and inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives. We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening, and evolving to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring, and evaluation of our field projects. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.


To apply for this opportunity, the consultant should provide the following documents:

  • CV
  • Proposed work plan and financial proposal

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