Research on Role of Local Partners in Programme-Level Decision-Making


About Trócaire

Trócaire is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Trócaire was established to express the concern of the Irish Catholic Church for any form of human need, but particularly for the needs and challenges faced by communities in the global south. Together with our partners, we work towards supporting women, men and communities for long-term change. In Ireland, we raise awareness about the causes of poverty through our outreach programmes in the education sector, through parish networks, and through our public campaigns and advocacy work. More information about Trócaire is available at

Context of Work

Trócaire has worked in partnership with local organisations in the countries where we work for nearly 50 years. As a partnership agency, Trócaire is committed to the ‘Localisation of Aid’ agenda[1], aimed at shifting greater power to local actors and ensuring that development and humanitarian programmes are locally-led*.* Trócaire is also a signatory to the Grand Bargain and Charter4Change, two of the key international instruments focused on advancing the localisation agenda. To deliver on these commitments, Trócaire established a Global Hub on Partnership & Localisation in March 2021. Based in Nairobi and working across the organisation globally, the Hub works to deepen Trócaire’s approaches to and expertise in partnership and localisation, as outlined in its Partnership and Localisation Strategy (2021-2025)[2]. Trócaire’s localisation approach focuses on four outcome areas: 1) Increased voice and influence of local actors, 2) Effective capacity strengthening, 3) Equitable partner relationships, and 4) Increased access to funding and resources for local partners.

While a significant portion of the initial discourse on localisation was focused on the commitments relating to increased direct funding to local actors, there is an increasing recognition of localisation as a process to enable locally-led programming[3]. Fundamental to the idea of locally-led programming is the ability for local actors to take a leading role in shaping key decisions in the programme cycle. This is reflected in the approaches and commitments of various actors and forums focused on localisation, some of which are noted below –

  • The Grand Bargain Intermediaries Caucus outcome document calls on intermediary INGOs to “ensure that local/national actors play a more prominent and more visible/active role in programme/project steering”, and proposes measuring this through the representation of local and national actors in programme steering committees and demonstrated participation in planning and decision-making[4].
  • The NEAR network’s Localisation Performance Measurement Framework includes an indicator on assessing the engagement of local partners throughout the project cycle in its ‘Partnership’ component.[5]
  • In its approach to localisation, USAID has identified two main indicators to measure progress. While one is focused on funding, the other looks to ensure that its “programming will place local communities in the lead to co-design a project, set priorities, drive implementation, and/or evaluate the impact of our programs.[6]
  • DG ECHO’s Guidance on Promoting Equitable Partnerships includes a commitment to “ensuring the participation of local/national actors throughout the humanitarian response cycle” as one of its five main areas of focus.[7]

Trócaire’s ambition is for local actors to not only participate in, but lead programme-level decision-making where relevant and appropriate. One of the commitments under the Outcome 3 of Trócaire’s Partnership and Localisation Strategy (Equitable Partnerships) is to ensure a leading role for local partners throughout the programme cycle, including the planning, design, implementation, and monitoring of projects. In Trócaire’s last Partner Feedback Survey (conducted once every two years), one of the areas of improvement identified by the recommendations was to enhance partners’ ability to influence decisions within Trócaire. Partners did not strongly perceive that they had equal or greater decision-making power than Trócaire in designing programme budgets. Partners agreed to a limited extent that they had equal or greater decision-making power throughout the programme cycle, and in designing programme activities and action plans, however there was room for improvement. This was also noted as an area requiring attention in Trócaire’s mid-term review of the ongoing strategic plan[8], which identifies localisation as one of the key shifts Trócaire has committed to.

This consultancy is aimed at addressing these findings from the partner survey by examining the dynamics of programme-level decision-making within Trócaire more closely and providing recommendations to enable our local partners to have a greater role in shaping programme decisions. While Trócaire recognizes that there can be different types of local actors engaged in decision-making during the programme cycle, this study focuses on the involvement of Trócaire’s local partners, who are predominantly local or national NGOs or CSOs. The study may briefly reflect on the involvement of affected local communities in programme-level decision-making, but this is not its primary focus.

This research is funded by Irish Aid, under the ongoing ICSP programme. In ICSP, Trócaire have undertaken to develop learning plans centred around several initiatives taking place under the four programme goals and Trócaire’s Global Hub on Partnership and Localisation. The learning plans place an emphasis on learning for decision-making and adaptation of programmes during the lifetime of the grant.


The overarching purpose of this consultancy is to support Trócaire to deliver on its commitment to equitable partnerships by enabling greater voice and decision-making ability for our local partners at the programme level. To this end, this study will explore the perspectives and experiences of Trócaire’s partners regarding their engagement in the programme-level decision making processes, along with analysing Trócaire’s current practices and internal guidance on programme cycle management, and relevant donor conditions and requirements that affect partners’ ability to influence programmes. It seeks to answer the following questions –

  • What are the key decisions and decision-making moments relevant to Trócaire’s partners in the programme cycle, and to what extent are they currently able to influence these decisions?
  • What are the barriers and enablers to partners being able to shape programme-level decision-making?
  • What actions or changes are needed to be made by Trócaire, donors and partners themselves for partners to be able to meaningfully influence decisions throughout the programme cycle?

Scope of the Work

Trócaire’s relationship with local organisations is shaped by virtue of its identity as both, a partnership agency, as well as an ‘international intermediary’ in the context of localisation. As a partnership organisation, Trócaire has a long history and deep-rooted ethos of working through empowering relationships with local civil society organisations, based on the core values of solidarity, participation and subsidiarity from Catholic Social Teaching. It has processes and guidelines in place to ensure that our local partners are key stakeholders throughout the programme cycle.

On the other hand, as an ‘international intermediary’, Trócaire’s interactions with local actors are also shaped by the varying requirements and stipulations of its institutional “back donors”. The extent that local partners are engaged in and influence the planning and design of programmes and budgets is often determined by the timelines and unique parameters of each funding opportunity, varying donor practices as well as Trócaire’s own internal requirements. In addition, as an international NGO and in most cases, the budget holder, Trócaire recognizes there are power dynamics at play in our interactions with local organisations which can shape discussions and affect key programme decisions.

The consultancy will be expected to analyse these dynamics in the programme cycles of a selection of Trócaire’s recent institutional funding grants across different donors, countries and programme areas. The entry point for the final report is localisation, and to what extent Trócaire’s existing policies and practices on programme cycle management vary across contexts and enable or impede our commitment to ensuring partners are able to not only participate in, but lead programme-level decision-making.

To this end, the consultant will be expected to deliver the following –

  1. Based on a literature review of internal and donor policies and grant documentation, a light quantitative survey, as well as interviews and/or focus group discussions with partners and Trócaire staff, identify and map the key decision-making moments and governance structures within the programme cycle across the grants sampled for this research. (The sampling will be determined by Trócaire and aim to have representation of Trócaire’s largest institutional donors, the countries it operates in, and the thematic focus areas of its programmes.)
  2. Analyse the processes and power dynamics within these decision-making moments and structures to determine to what extent Trócaire’s local partners are able to have a leading role in shaping key decisions relevant to the programme across its various stages, including the initial conception, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, close-out and reporting as well as decisions on the programme budget.
  3. Identify key barriers, enablers and examples of good practice in terms of ensuring that the voices of local partners are able to shape programme-level decision-making.
  4. Provide recommendations, including practical steps for i) Trócaire, ii) relevant institutional donors, and iii) local partners to enable greater leadership by local partners in programme-level decision-making across different contexts.

The final report will be a learning document that will inform Trócaire’s approach and practice for promoting the leadership of our partners in programme cycle management. While the final report is intended to be an internal product, the recommendations for donors will inform Trócaire’s broader advocacy on localisation.

It is anticipated the study will cover a total of 4-5 institutional grants from Trócaire’s most significant institutional donors across 3-4 countries. All engagements with Trócaire staff and local partners from the countries can be conducted virtually. The consultant will not be expected to engage with members of affected communities.


The consultant is expected to provide a detailed proposal, indicating the methodologies that will be used for conducting the research and developing a final report in line with the objectives and scope of the terms of reference. The proposal will be expected to clarify the research framework, the data to be collected, how it will be collected, and the broad timeframe of the project. In particular, the consultant will be expected to suggest a proposed methodology and/or theoretical framework for analysing the power dynamics between Trócaire and local partners during key decision-making moments in the programme cycle.

The study design should incorporate a participatory approach, capturing views of Trócaire and partner staff at the head office (if required) and country level. The consultant will not be expected to engage directly with affected communities. The assignment is expected to be conducted remotely, however there is a possibility to consider in-person engagement if required by the methodology.

The methodology is broadly expected to include the steps provided below. The proposal will be expected to adapt and provide further detail on these based on the consultant’s proposed approach.

  • Inception meeting with relevant Trócaire staff, including Trócaire’s Global Director-Partnership and Localisation, Partnership and Localisation Adviser, Global Knowledge Management & Learning Advisor, relevant staff from Trócaire’s Global Partnerships and Funding Unit, relevant staff from country teams including Programme Managers, MEAL Advisors and any other Trócaire staff, as required.
  • Development of an inception report with the final research methodology and timelines, as agreed with the Trócaire team.
  • Desk review of key documents, including but not limited to the following –
    • Review of relevant literature on localisation, including documents listed in the footnotes of this TOR, as well as the Grand Bargain 3.0 self-reporting guidance and indicators.
    • Trócaire’s Partner Feedback Survey 2022 Global Report, and country specific reports as necessary, Keystone Partner Survey Report 2020 and Trócaire’s mid-term strategic plan review.
    • Review of relevant internal guidance or resources published by Trócaire’s Global Partnerships and Funding Unit, particularly on grant management based on the institutional grants and donors included in the research sample.
    • Review of relevant internal guidance or resources on Programme Cycle Management such as Trócaire’s Partnership Policy, Global MEAL Policy and linked resources, Humanitarian Handbook, Programme Cycle Management Development Programme,, and other resources, as necessary.
    • Review of relevant calls for proposals, donor requirements for the projects included in the study.
    • Review of the relevant, key project documentation for the projects included in the study, such as the final proposals, results framework, monitoring reports, minutes of steering committee/project review meetings, narrative reports, etc.
    • Any other documentation required by the final methodology.
  • Data Collection: It is anticipated this study will follow a two-stage data collection process, starting with a light quantitative survey with Trócaire and partners’ programme staff across all of Trócaire’s country teams. This will be followed by deep-dive qualitative data collection process across the 3-4 sampled countries and 4-5 sampled grants. The consultant will be required to share all data collection tools with Trócaire for review before finalisation.
    • Phase I (Quantitative):
      1. Development, review and finalisation of survey tool for quantitative data collection: The main objective of the survey will be to identify the process of partner engagement and key decision-making moments during the programme cycle from the perspective of partners and Trócaire staff across all country teams, and get preliminary insights on partner experiences.
      2. Data collection based on methodology and tools agreed with the Trócaire team and analysis of findings.
    • Phase II (Qualitative):
      1. Development, review and finalisation of qualitative data collection tools: The qualitative methodology could include focus group discussions, key informant interviews, or other qualitative methods designed to reflect on the nature of power dynamics involved in selected decision-making processes. The data collection methodology should allow for anonymity or confidentiality of respondents, particularly for partners.
      2. Data collection based on the methodology and tools agreed with the Trócaire team: The main source of qualitative information will be relevant staff from Trócaire’s country teams and local partner organisations. Supplementary interviews with Trócaire’s HQ staff may be included if required.
  • Data analysis and drafting.
  • Presentation of preliminary findings: The consultant will be expected to share preliminary findings with relevant Trócaire and partner staff through a validation meeting and incorporate feedback as necessary into the final report.
  • Report writing and review: Trócaire and its partners should have an opportunity to review the final written report in full and provide feedback prior to finalisation. Time should be factored in for Trócaire and partners to review and for the consultant to make revisions based on Trócaire and partners’ feedback.
  • Finalisation of the report: The final report should be provided as a word document and PDF of maximum 25 pages (excluding annexes) and should include an executive summary.


The consultancy is expected to require a maximum of 30 consultancy days. It is planned to be carried out tentatively between July to October 2024.

Final Products

  • Inception report to be submitted following the inception meeting.
  • Final study report, including executive summary, of maximum 30 pages (excluding annexes).
  • Powerpoint presentation with the key findings and recommendations.

The submitted final products will require the final review and approval by Trócaire for the consultancy to be brought to conclusion.

[1] Trócaire, 2017. More Than The Money: Localisation in Practice.

[2] Trócaire, 2021. Partnership and Localisation Strategy.

[3] ODI, 2021. Are we there yet? Localisation as the journey towards locally-led practice.

[4] Grand Bargain, 2022. Towards Co-Ownership: The Role of Intermediaries in Supporting Locally-Led Humanitarian Action.

[5] NEAR, 2019. Localisation performance measurement Framework.

[6] USAID, 2022. Localization at USAID: The vision and approach.

[7] EU/DG ECHO, 2023. Promoting Equitable Partnerships with Local Responders in Humanitarian Settings.

[8] Trócaire Strategic Plan 2021-2025:


Applicants must demonstrate they meet the following requirements:

  • Excellent understanding of the localisation discourse and its evolution. Prior experience of conducting research or documenting learning on localisation is preferred.
  • Excellent understanding of key theories and methodologies for assessing power dynamics in humanitarian and development programming. Prior experience of conducting research or practice of methodologies addressing power dynamics will be an advantage.
  • Relevant professional experience and technical knowledge to carry out the intended research and report writing.
  • Advanced degree in a related field of study (for example, development studies, public policy, social sciences, or a related field).
  • Excellent English writing skills (including reports and publications).
  • Proficient spoken English language skills.
  • Experience working with international, national and local NGOs and community-based organisations.
  • Excellent time management skills, with an ability to deliver high-quality outputs on time.
  • Commitment to the safeguarding of programme participants, as demonstrated by signing Trócaire’s Safeguarding Programme Participants Policy.
  • Proficiency in spoken Spanish will be an advantage.
  • Researchers or organisations based in the Global South are particularly encouraged to apply.


All consultants who work for Trócaire will be required to sign and abide by Trócaire’s official position statement on exploitation and abuse, including zero-tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse. Trócaire recognises that abuse of power has led, and continues to lead, to many forms of exploitation and abuse. The nature of Trócaire’s work creates a power differential between those employed by or working with Trócaire and programme participants and partners. Trócaire acknowledges that the potential exists for those who work with programme participants and partners to abuse their position of power. Trócaire’s commitment to safeguarding is inclusive of its staff and all those with whom it comes into contact through its work.

Evaluation of proposals

Each technical proposal will be evaluated based on technical quality; background and experience of the consultant; and value for money.

How to apply

Identified consultants should submit a proposal marked “Partner-led Decision-Making Research” by e-mail to [email protected] latest by 12th June 2024.

Proposals should include the following:

  • The CV of the consultant(s), outlining relevant experience, accomplishments, and contact information of 2 references.
  • A written proposal, outlining the methodology, work plan and detailed budget, including the estimated number of days per deliverable and daily rate in Euro. (Maximum 6 pages)
  • Conflict of interest statement: Applicants should state clearly whether they have an actual or potential conflict of interest with the staff, volunteers, and/or board of Trócaire.
  • 2 writing samples of similar/relevant work.

Any queries relating to this Terms of Reference should be directed by e-mail only to Ruchi Junnarkar ([email protected]).

To help us track our recruitment effort, please indicate in your email/cover letter where ( you saw this job posting.

Job Location