CALL FOR BIDS – Evaluating Project on Defending Human Rights Defenders in India

Terms of Reference for an Independent Final Evaluation Consultancy for the Project: ‘Strengthened HRD protection ensuring sustained access to justice for the most vulnerable (January 2020 – March 2023)

1. Introduction

    The OMCT. The World Organization Against Torture (Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture – OMCT) was founded in 1985. Based in Geneva, but working through its large and active SOS-Torture Network working in more than 90 countries, it is among the largest civil society coalition fighting against torture and all other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the world. The OMCT is also one of the leading organisations striving to provide protection and support to human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk wherever they are, regardless of their specific area of work. It’s been a pioneer in this field since its inception. In 1997, the OMCT and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) launched the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. It is a unique collaboration based on their respective global networks. In 2015, following a rise in attacks and repression, the OMCT, in partnership with 11 other international and regional NGOs, created ProtectDefenders.eu, the largest global protection mechanism. The OMCT is one of four members on its management board.

    The Project: ‘Strengthened HRD protection ensuring sustained access to justice for the most vulnerable’. The project aimed to strengthen the protection of HRDs and to ensure that they are able to continue their work to further democracy, protection of human rights, and rule of law in India. It was designed to strengthen HRD protection through effective engagement with diverse HRDs and to capacitate them, strengthen collective approaches in civil society-led HRD protection, and develop structured engagement with state institutions, United Nations (UN) mechanisms, European Union (EU) and other relevant institutions. It endeavoured to enable HRDs to continue their victim-centred human rights work in particular for those working with the most vulnerable with minimal hinderance from the state, and to facilitate access to justice.

    This project was coordinated by the OMCT, envisaged to benefit from the expertise and experience gathered for years in the OMCT’s engagement on defending HRDs around the world. The OMCT has implemented this project in India together with four co-applicants, including the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) hosted by SWADHIKAR, the National Alliance of Women (NAWO), the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), hosted by Manasa Centre for Development and Social Action.

    This project was designed to significantly collaborate with the thematic national and regional platforms of HRDs in India. This project also intended to strengthen Human Rights Defenders Alert – India (HRDA), a volunteer national platform of HRDs, to strengthen the civil society led protection mechanism for HRDs. In addition to the co-applicants, HRDA was a key stakeholder of this action and provided on the ground support and coordination of key interventions.

    The overall objective (impact level) of the action was to strengthen and develop an inclusive, effective and existing collective civil society led protection mechanism for HRDs in India, thereby ensuring greater access to justice for the vulnerable and marginalised communities. The specific objectives to be accomplished within the project period (outcome level) were –

    1. Capacitating HRDs and supporting their capacity to be resilient, innovative and empowered to document, to litigate, to reach out to most vulnerable, including victims of serious human rights violations.
    2. Building platforms for direct and effective engagement between civil society and state institutions to provide protection to HRDs.
    3. Ensuring HRD protection and using digital technology to accelerate immediate interventions.
    4. Contributing towards developing an Indian HRD protection jurisprudence.

    The project had four Expected Results (outcome level) which were designed to be inter-linked to yield substantial and lasting benefits as well as improved technical and management capacity for all of the project’s numerous target groups and beneficiaries:

    1. Capacitated HRDs are resilient, innovative and empowered to document, litigate, reach out to and sustain long-term work with the most vulnerable, including in addressing the most challenging cases of serious human rights violations such as torture, ill treatment, and assassinations.
    2. An understanding and acceptance on issues concerning HRDs among state institutions is developed.
    3. HRDs under threat and crisis are provided protection.
    4. Significant progress in developing an HRD protection jurisprudence is achieved.

    Relevant Stakeholders and Environment: The project was under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of OMCT, its management board and its former Executive Council Member from India. The project was also implemented through a CSO consortium based in India, comprising of all the co-applicants. The Consortium was headed by the former OMCT Executive Council Member from India. The project was implemented by the OMCT through a three-member secretariat established in India, in coordination with a focal point based in Geneva.

    The final evaluation is envisaged to take place in a highly challenging environment for HRDs in India, which the project has been a key witness to. In addition to specific challenges pertaining to individual HRDs from state and non-state actors which the project attempted to respond, partners in India faced multiple challenges by restrictions to access and utilise financial resources in addition to a hostile climate against human rights work. A significant part of the project was also directly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent mobility restrictions.

    Funding Sources: The main funding source for this project was the European Commission through its European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights – Country Based Support Scheme (India), and Misereor – the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation. The project period was originally from January 1, 2020, till December 31, 2022, but was authorized an extension through March 31, 2023.

    Other Evaluation: A late mid-term external evaluation of the project was undertaken in August 2022 and a report of the same is available. This evaluation, in addition to specific engagements with beneficiaries, engaged in a three-day interaction with all program staffs and consultants in Bangalore, partially also attended by the representatives of the two donor organisations.

    2. Cause and Objective of the Final External Evaluation

      A provision was made in the original project for a final external evaluation to be conducted by an independent evaluator or a team of evaluators, after the implementation of the project. As the final evaluation, the goal of the evaluation is to assess the implementation of the project, its effectiveness vis-à-vis its stated objectives, its value to the direct and final beneficiaries, realisation of the outcomes it achieved by the end of the project period, and an outlook for this nature of work in the future, facilitating the development effective future strategies. The evaluation should provide an objective view of the project’s relevance and the OMCT’s, India co-applicants’ and partners’ competence in implementing it, and should provide practical suggestions and recommendations that can be implemented in the future.

      The evaluation should be carried out in the light of the objectives, results, and the challenging context of the project’s implementation, and will be based on the project application and the cooperation agreement, the two principle documents describing and delimiting the project. The various actors in the programme will help evaluate the usefulness and impact of the project, notably: the relevant OMCT Staff, India co-applicants’ consortium, project secretariat in India, project staff and consultants, and human rights defenders engaged with in the project.

      Scope and Key Questions: With this call for bids, the OMCT seeks to enlist the services of a consultant(s) to undertake an evaluation of the OMCT’s EU and Misereor funded project in India. The consultant will evaluate the relevance, effectiveness, impact, coherence, and sustainability of the project, which was implemented between January 2020 and March 2023. The evaluation should seek to identify strengths, weaknesses, and lessons learnt from the project’s implementation, so that the OMCT, India co-applicants, and HRDA can improve their work defending HRDs. The evaluation is expected to provide precise recommendations for continued engagement. The evaluation therefore has four key overarching objectives, namely:

      1. Identify and assess the project in relation to the outcomes targeted in the original project proposal, and analyse any constraints and obstacles which affected the projects’ ability to achieve the expected outcomes during for the period January 2020 – March 2023.
      2. Identify and assess the cooperation between the project implementers and HRDs on the ground in India engaged in the project for the period January 2020 – March 2023, in line with the objectives of the project.
      3. Assess if the project activities have contributed to the strengthening of the work of the OMCT, India co-applicants and HRDA in their work with HRDs.
      4. Make recommendations for the future of OMCT’s engagement in India based on the lessons learnt in this project.

      In line with the above, the evaluation must address all 6 of the main criteria below, and these can be addressed using sample key questions proposed below:


      • How relevant have the project’s objectives and activities been to the aims outlined in the EU’s original call for proposals?
      • What kind of changes, or additional components, could be incorporated in potential future projects to make it more coherent with the needs of the target groups in India?


      • How logical was the project to the socio-political context in India specific to the HRDs?
      • How were the activities planned and implemented to address the concerns and achieve project objectives?


      • To what extent have the strategies, approaches and activities implemented contributed to achieve the project objectives (outcome level)?
      • Which elements / strategies of the project have been most effective? Which have been less effective?


      • Was the project implemented in an economically efficient manner, avoiding waste and ensuring cost-efficiency?
      • To what extent were the results achieved within the intended timeframe, and/or was the timeframe reasonably adjusted during the intervention to overcome obstacles and mitigate delays in how the intervention was managed?


      • How successfully has the project been in protecting HRDs who are protecting and assisting vulnerable communities?
      • Can the project staff identify any highly vulnerable individuals who have benefitted from HRDs who were protected? What has been their experience during the project?


      - What activities of this project can continue in the absence of future funding?

      - How can the potential future projects build onto the achievements of this project

      3. Evaluation Methodology

        The proposed method and approach of the evaluation should include specification and justification of the design of the evaluation and the techniques for data collection and analysis. This evaluation should therefore include a process of desk review of documents, plans and reports, as well as interviews with the staff and consultants responsible for the project, project concerned staffs at the OMCT, its secretariat in India, India co-applicants’ consortium, and HRDs reached out and engaged through this project.

        Taking into consideration the size and capacity of the organisation, the evaluation should seek to prioritize the production of a shortlist of practical and implementable recommendations that can aid in learning from what has been achieved. The method should take the OECD DAC Standards for evaluation[1] into account, as appropriate.

        Upon selection and acceptance of the original summary bids being sought by this TOR, the Consultant(s) should propose an evaluation method based on the project’s logical framework.

        4. Report and Recommendations

          The Consultant(s) is expected to deliver to OMCT a comprehensive written report of maximum 25 pages excluding annexes which meets the following specifications:

          • Addressing the main evaluation questions related to Relevance, Effectiveness, Impact, Coherence, and Sustainability. Highlighting gaps, challenges and opportunities and clearly indicating lessons for OMCT, India co-applicants and HRDA to achieve real protections for HRDs in India;
          • Highlighting gaps, challenges and opportunities and clearly indicating lessons OMCT could learn from its experiences in country-specific activities in India resulting from this project;

          The lessons drawn from the successes and failures should be presented as conclusions and recommendations to be implemented in future potential projects in India. To this end the Consultant is expected to:

          - Present clear, concise and practical recommendations on the relevance, effectiveness, impact, coherence, and sustainability of the strategy, activities, and cooperation among all stakeholders during the course of this project;

          - Present clear, concise, and practical recommendations on the HRD capacitation, protection and advocacy aspects of this project;

          - Present clear, concise and implementable recommendations for improvement of HRD protection work in India.

          5. Duration and Location

            The tasks under this evaluation are to be undertaken for an estimated period of 25 working days, between May 1, 2023, and June 15, 2023, and the final draft must be completed by June 23, 2023. A draft report of the evaluation will be presented to the Secretary General of the OMCT, Chairperson of the India consortium and representatives of India co-applicants. The location of the evaluation will be at multiple locations in India.

            A breakdown of the expected activities is provided below:

            - Inception report[2] for the evaluation

            - Discussion of the inception report with OMCT and project secretariat and incorporation of comments

            - Desk review of relevant documents, proposals and reports

            - Travel to project partners’ offices, and to interview staff, consultants and HRDs engaged through the project at multiple locations in India, in some cases use online interactions by using secure mode of communication

            - Analysis of data collected

            - Report compilation with list of conclusions and recommendations

            - Present and discuss the draft report, recommendations, and possible continuation strategies

            - First draft feedback (including possible feedback from donor agencies and may include re-engaging key stakeholders)

            - Incorporating comments and final report compilation

            6. Requirements and Qualifications

              A consultant with the following skills and competencies is encouraged to express their interest by submitting a bid which also satisfies the below:

              - Post-graduate degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. fields of Social Sciences, Law, Economics, and Human Rights)

              - At least 7 years of experience and additional training in project evaluation, including in the field of human rights (essential), civil and political rights and/or human rights defenders (desired)

              - Specialisation and additional training in human rights and experience of working with victims of human rights violations

              - Competence in organisational development

              - Demonstrable experience in evaluating programmes and projects implemented in multiple states in India

              - Knowledge and insights of the socio-economic and political dynamics as well as the social justice and human rights issues in India

              - Demonstrable knowledge and understanding of the architecture of human rights organisations in India

              - Fluency in English is required, and additional language capabilities of Indian languages will be an added advantage

              7. Eligibility, Applications, and Consideration

                Applicants can be organisations or individual consultants based in India.

                Applications will be accepted up to May 12, 2023, only via email, to Radosh Piletich, Director of Development, OMCT, at: rp@omct.org. Thank you for understanding that we cannot answer phone inquiries.

                In order for your application to be considered, please send an email indicating "EVALUATION CONSULTANCY – INDIA PROJECT" in the subject heading, with the following attachments, in PDF:

                • A Letter of Interest summarising the Bid and the possible start date (max. 1 page)
                • A Bid for Contract, detailing the proposed methodology, timeframe, and fee (max. 4 pages)
                • Individuals: a CV/resume, with relevant evaluations completed with dates (max. 2 pages)
                • Firms: a list of relevant evaluations completed during the past three years (max. 1 page)

                Due to the volume of applications, only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

                [1]Please see the DAC Guidelines and Reference Series Quality Standards for Development Evaluation (https://www.oecd.org/developme...). These standards should be used as guidance, but may in various aspects not be relevant for or appropriate to evaluating human rights work.

                [2] See: https://www.alnap.org/system/files/content/resource/files/main/annex-1-guidelines-inception-report.pdf