Job # 112237
Job Title Operations Officer ( Human Development)
Job Family Social Protection
Location Freetown, Sierra Leone
Appointment Local Hire
Language Requirements English [Essential]
Background / General description
• Following a brutal decade-long civil war which killed 20,000 people and displaced half the population, Sierra Leone has been on a path of reconciliation, reconstruction, and stabilization of its economy and governance systems. But recovery was dealt a blow by the global financial crisis that has resulted in a sharp fall in four revenue generating areas: private capital flows, remittances, foreign aid and commodity prices and could impact the chances of Sierra Leone reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To minimize the impact of the crisis, it is important that Sierra Leone continues to improve basic service delivery to the poor, especially in the areas of health and education and also to assure that the poor have access to opportunities. The poverty headcount is estimated to have decreased to 62 percent in 2007 from 67 percent in 2003/04. Although the impact on households of the food and fuel crisis of 2008 and the ongoing global recession has not been measured, it is likely that poverty has increased since 2007. On non-income measures of poverty, Sierra Leone is one of poorest countries in the world, ranking 180 out of 182 on the 2008/9 Human Development Index. Sierra Leone’s health indicators are grim but have shown signs of improvement over the past three years. Sierra Leone has a life expectancy of 47 years, an infant mortality rate of 89 per 1000 live births, and a maternal mortality ratio of 857 per 100 000 live births. Each year, about 9 percent of children die before their first birthday and 1 of every 8 children dies before his/her fifth birthday; up to 40 percent of these deaths occur in the first month of life.
• Although basic education access has improved over the past five years about half of teachers (49.4%) teaching at the basic level are not qualified or trained to teach. Schools in difficult-to-reach areas suffer significantly from lack of adequate facilities and materials.
Adult literacy rate is still low at only 39.8 percent. Key Challenges for the HD Sector
• Capacity for service delivery and monitoring remains weak in basic education, evident in lack of learning materials in schools, high numbers of untrained and unqualified teachers, and poor performance on regional examinations.
• There is a need to develop and implement innovative programs to combine employment programs with ways to build basic numeracy and literacy skills to the “lost generation” so that they can become more trainable and acquire the skills to help their country.
• Responding to the Global Price Crisis. Among emerging challenges are the question of assuring that the poor do not suffer from the recent global price hikes and lessons from 2008 round of price hikes points to a need to design a scalable safety net which can be expanded or contracted according to the situation. Countries with scalable safety nets such as labor intensive works, cash transfers or food transfers benefited were able to respond quickly by scaling up the number of beneficiaries. Countries without them responded with instruments such as price controls etc. which failed. Sierra Leone has a scalable labor intensive works program and this can be scaled up to help families with able bodied workers but an additional system is needed for those without able bodied workers.
Sierra Leone being a potential food exporter should rely on cash transfers or cash for works rather than use price controls, or price subsidies or food for work as the latter programs will discourage farmers and jeopardize long term food security.
• Health Financing Dilemma. The Free Health Care Initiative (FHCI) appears to have achieved its goal of expanding access to health care for many who could not access it in the past and may help Sierra Leone move towards reducing high maternal and child mortality. The issue is whether the cost in reaching this major goal is fiscally sustainable because not only did it increase direct costs, it also led to a successful agitation by health workers to increase their salaries to compensate for the additional work-load. This in turn sparked off demands for pay increases in other sectors as well. Currently, there is an ILO supported proposal to establish a health insurance system in the country using general revenues and payroll taxes. Payroll taxes could negatively impact formal sector job-growth. Furthermore, general revenue financing cannot be justified unless the equity issue is addressed. The current insurance proposal does not address how the poor would be covered for their premiums as proposed premium levels may be too high for the poor. Although it is pitched as an answer to the sustainability question around the FHCI, the proposed insurance could in fact exacerbate the issue of sustainable health financing as it is not clear that proposed revenues would cover the attendant costs of the scheme. Furthermore, there is the question whether the health system can adjust to another major system shock after FHCI.
• Specific Issues by HD Subsector Education
• Weak capacity of MEST to implement projects and programs aimed at improving access, quality and management efficiency in education e.g. EMIS was initiated but remains weak. The MEST decided not to have a PIU, but has not adequately staffed the Education Sector Plan Coordinator’s office to be able to implement existing programs. Procurement of educational materials and teacher training, as well as adequate supervision are not delivered with consistency.
• There is a lack of coordination between the MEST, including at the Local Council level and the Local Councils which has hampered service delivery.
• The country needs to shift from a project to program approach in the sector in order to work on strengthening systems.
• There are concerns about the broader structure of the education budget. Many investments are ‘off budget’ and the so-called Education Sector Support Framework is actually only a small part of the program. The goals to increase spending in education in general, and at the basic level specifically, are not being met. Education is 20 percent of the budget (which might be adequate, but could be better) – but within the education budget, only 27 percent is allocated to primary education. The MOF argues that donors finance basic education – but this needs to be carefully analyzed: preliminary analysis of donor interventions does not bear this out.
• Problem of "ghost teachers" was beginning to be addressed by an audit conducted last year, but this is politically charged and has not moved forward.
• About half of teachers at basic level not qualified or trained raising concerns about learning quality, evident by low performance on tests designed for surveys as well as on regional learning assessments.
• High levels of youth unemployment and low skills level of youth are seen in poor transition rates from school to work. Health Nutrition and Population
• Deaths of children under five are primarily due to malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea, with malnutrition contributing to nearly 60% of the mortality rate. These illnesses are preventable and amenable to simple preventive interventions and yet uptake of these cost-effective interventions is very low in the country. Decentralization of services has been positive in improving quality and access and needs continued support.
• A key reform to expedite achievement of MDGs 4 and 5 that was rolled out on a national scale in 2010 is the free health care initiative for pregnant and lactating women and children under 5. As part of its implementation salaries for health workers were increased significantly causing a huge increase in the wage bill that the government is unable to cover. As a result it has turned to donors to support it.
• The government has introduced Results Based Financing scheme on a national scale in the health sector in the first quarter of 2011. Under the RBF scheme, health facilities receive payments based on results achieved for the indicators covered by the scheme. This is also expected to help improve the quality of health care in the country. A system monitoring service quality is being set up under the DSDP project. The challenges involved in the national scale-ups are substantial, and implementation is being closely monitored.
• The Government is also working on developing a new national health insurance scheme and has sought technical advice from the World Bank. The success of implementing health insurance will depend a great deal on the system’s ability to provide services which will require significant amount of systemic strengthening. Despite salary increases in 2010, health staff are still dissatisfied. The system for distributing and managing drugs and medical consumables also needs strengthening. Social Protection
• Government’s commitment to decentralized basic service delivery provides a promising opportunity to support improved access and quality. However this promise may not be fulfilled particularly in those sectors where the technical ministries do not provide adequate support to the local authorities. The quality of technical support at the district level is not very good particularly in education and water supply. The Governments is on track to meet the triggers for the second phase of DSDP, and the Bank will respond with a scaled up package of support. The DSDP project is also helping the Government implement a system to monitor service quality.
• Youth unemployment remains a serious social, economic, and security challenge. About 800,000 people between ages 15 and 25 are unemployed, are employed without remuneration, or are underemployed. The Youth Employment Support Project, which became effective in October 2010, aims to
(i) to improve technical capacity and promote creation and/or expansion of small youth owned enterprises in economically viable activities;
(ii) to improve skills base of young people to make them more employable; and
(iii) to provide a safety net and income supplement for the most vulnerable youth through public works. Physical implementation of the public works sub-projects has commenced and NaCSA is front-loading activities into the first 12 months of the program to increase support to urban areas that were hardest hit by increased food and fuel prices. Technical and financial proposals for the three skills development and employment support contracts have been received from the shortlisted NGOs and are being evaluated by Government.
• Following recent food and fuel price rises, Government and the Bank have put a heightened priority on strengthening the country’s safety net systems. The Government has completed a social protection strategy which defines specific outcomes and prioritizes interventions to achieve such outcomes in order to maximize the impact of existing limited resources. The social protection strategy recommended further analytical work, which is being launched in the form of a Social Protection Assessment with support from the Rapid Social Response (RSR) TF. Note: If the selected candidate is a current Bank Group staff member with a Regular or Open-Ended appointment, s/he will retain his/her Regular or Open-Ended appointment. All others will be offered a 3 year renewable term appointment.
Duties and Accountabilities
• Assist the Task Team Leaders (TTLs) to prepare and supervise projects, including providing day-to-day advice, drafting of periodic project preparation and supervision reports (Project appraisal document, aide-memoires) and updating of the Bank’s Implementation Status Reports;
• Provide implementation support for HD projects and donor trust funds, including resolving implementation bottlenecks, collection and reporting of sector monitoring indicators;
• Provide oversight of project preparation and implementation in coordination with the TTLs and the Bank's procurement and financial management specialists;
• Proactively pursuing opportunities to enhance coordination of services to government, synergies between programs and cross HD sectors opportunities. The Bank’s program will need to be particularly closely coordinated with the capacity building efforts of other donors. This may include joint missions and/or assessments, preparation of various TORs, and regular communication on progress and problems;
• Assist the TTLs in coordinating issues across sectors and identify cross cutting themes;
• As agreed with the TTLs, participate in various donor coordination meetings, including attending periodic meetings and providing feedback to TTLs on key issues, and maintain engagement with NGOs and other civil society organizations regarding health and education sector issues;
• Prepare quarterly reports on implementation progress for the sector programs; Organize by audio or VC each three months a meeting to discuss constraints with project coordinators and the respective TTLs;
• Assist the Government and TTLs to organize the semi-annual missions for the projects and facilitate the preparation of supporting documents for review;
• As opportunities arise, provide support for lending and analytical services across a range of other themes;
• Assist the relevant Ministries and Agencies to establish and, where appropriate, refine their Quarterly Progress Report for ongoing projects, as well as take the lead in reporting to the Bank and the government on project-level Results Frameworks.
• Maintain effective communication within the Bank, with government officials and other partners
• Write a monthly report on his/her activities.
• Learning Bank internal systems for monitoring, hiring local consultants, creating Activity Initiation and Completion Summaries, etc etc.
• Being responsive to the Country Manager’s requests relating to the HD sector;
• Master's degree and a minimum of 5 years' relevant experience in one or more professional disciplines, or equivalent combination of education and experience.
• Strong theoretical base in subject area, combining a broad grasp of relevant theory and principles and of involved practices and precedent.
• Ability to translate theory into practical applications in context of Bank work.
• Ability to participate in multi-disciplinary teams.
• Excellent written and oral communication skills
• A record of proactive teamwork.
AJS DOES NOT CHARGE A FEE AT ANY STAGE OF THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS AND AJS DOES NOT CONCERN ITSELF WITH INFORMATION ON BANK ACCOUNTS.
SOME EMPLOYERS MAY ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF YOUR APPLICATION.