Programme Policy Officer-Bread Value Chain (CST II) Vacancy-Job Ref: ACSYWFP/2508/202396


Programme Policy Officer-Bread Value Chain (CST II) Vacancy-Job Ref: ACSYWFP/2508/202396
Damascus (Syria)
WFP celebrates and embraces diversity. It is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity for all its employees and encourages qualified candidates to apply irrespective of race, colour, national origin, ethnic or social background, genetic information, gender, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation, religion or belief, HIV status or disability.
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. The mission of WFP is to help the world achieve Zero Hunger in our lifetimes. Every day, WFP works worldwide to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry and that the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly women and children, can access the nutritious food they need.
Wheat is Syria’s major staple food commodity, consumed mostly in the form of bread. Two to tea national security situation, a major objective of the Government is to ensure that Syria is self-sufficient in wheat. Wheat production has been encouraged on both rainfed and irrigated areas. Syria became self-sufficient in wheat in the mid-1990s. This has been achieved by a combination of the accumulation of national strategic stocks and the plantation of sufficient land to wheat to ensure that national production is approximately sufficient to meet domestic needs, even in a drought year.
Twelve years into crisis, wheat/bread value chain actors have been exposed to light or serious damages. Wheat production, storage, milling, and packing have been affected by availability and quality of needed inputs and their soaring prices. Sanction, drought, inflation, economic deterioration, and lack of availability of qualified companies, including skilled laborers, were pulling factors of the improvement of the value chain.
All of the above has contributed to reducing the efficiency of the bread value chain. National wheat production has decreased, so that more than half of the national wheat consumption has become imported. Storage and milling capacities have decreased as most of the mills and silos have been affected by the crisis, while bakeries were simultaneously lightly/ seriously damaged.
Accordingly, and since 2011, WFP has been providing food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance to crisis affected Syrian families in the country. The conflict in Syria is taking a devastating toll on the lives of the Syrian people. As of early 2023, 12.1 million people are food insecure in Syria; the highest number ever recorded. Since late 2019, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated to levels not previously seen in the country’s recent history: Protracted displacement, soaring food and fuel prices, stagnant salaries, loss of livelihoods and reduced food production have led to widespread food insecurity.
The protracted crisis and the most recent economic crisis in Syria and deteriorating food security situation is having detrimental effects on dietary patterns and is adversely affecting the nutritional status of the most vulnerable segments of the Syrian population. Today the food security needs exceed assistance levels and coping strategies of the population are near exhaustion and trends that show a severe deterioration are arising as compared to the baseline/starting point.
Over the past few years, food fortification has been the strategy used by WFP to improve the nutritional effectiveness of the food-based safety nets. This experience ranges from production and distribution of fortified blended foods to staple food fortification of wheat flour in the government’s food-based safety nets.
Wheat is a major staple food commodity in Syria, consumed mostly in the form of bread. Two to tea national food security situation, the major objective of the government is to maintain or strengthen the food security status of Syrians by ensuring that the population has access to bread through bread subsidy programme.
The most recent national data for nutrition1 had revealed that Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates in children under 5 was 1.7% (considered acceptable as per WHO standards – cut off being <5%); and was 4.2% in Pregnant and breastfeeding Women & girls (PBWG) (bordering the 5% cut-off for medium severity). While chronic malnutrition (stunting), for children under 5, was identified at a national prevalence of 12.6% (equivalent to medium severity according to the WHO thresholds), however, with pockets where chronic malnutrition was as high as 22%, clearly indicating an underlying issue of micronutrient deficiencies.
Micronutrient deficiencies (mainly anemia) had mostly affected the population with at least 1 in every 4 children under the age of 5 (average prevalence 27.4%), and 1 in every 3 women (both PBWGs: about 30.6%; and women of childbearing age: about 29.4%) suffering from anemia, increasing of mortality and morbidity. Reference to the study of iron-deficiency anemia adopted by the Ministry of Health in 1997, the results identified the prevalence of anemia among children under five years of age in Syria at 27.22%, and among women of childbearing age at 40.5%. In 2001 one of the recommendations as a long-term strategy was to work on wheat flour fortification with addition of iron sulphate to address the micronutrient deficiencies among Syrian population.
In 2003, the Syrian government rolled out a pilot for a wheat flour fortification programme. Results of the 2009 evaluation of the pilot exhibited evidence of a decrease in iron-deficiency anemia, upon which support was requested from partners to scale up and rollout the wheat flour fortification program in Syria. However, with the onset of the crisis in 2011, the fortification program was put on hold and the know how lost.
WFP is a technical partner of the Government of Syria for Wheat Flour Fortification. In 2019, WFP approached Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Internal Trade and Customer Protection (MOITCP) and partners to explore the feasibility of reactivating the wheat flour fortification program in Syria and agreed to the importance of reviving the programme. Accordingly, a national wheat fortification committee was approved by the Minister of Health and an Assessment on the current situation of public meals, availability of feeders and their respective status was conducted with the support MOH and MOITCP. Accordingly, the government is planning to launch a new pilot to fortify subsidized bread in one governorate, with future plans to expand county wide.
Advanced technical skills and experience in food fortification policy review and development, including aligning national regulation and legislation with international recommendations.
Knowledge of the wheat/bread value chain including the technicalities around wheat flower/bread production.
Proven leadership in all steps in program cycle (design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation) of large-scale food fortification programs with public health objectives.
Involvement in advocacy with the national government(s) and other relevant stakeholders.
KEY ACCOUNTABILITIES (not all-inclusive)
The Programme Policy Officer – Bread Value Chain Advisor under the overall guidance of the Head of Programme, direct guidance of the team leader of Livelihood and Social protection and support from the team leader of Nutrition and School Based Programming, will have the following responsibilities:
Support WFP efforts on supporting a national wheat flour fortification Pilot during preparation, implementation and evaluation phases and development of a national fortification policy and programme.
Support WFP work around the Bread Value Chain, provide technical support and contribute to evaluating and updating of Bread Value Chain strategy.
Support the design and the implementation of the relevant bread value chain studies.
For Wheat Flour Fortification (WHF):
Develop a plan for the implementation of the wheat flour fortification pilot, including procurement of equipment and premix, installation of equipment, training and capacity building plan, development of quality control and quality assurance guidelines, development of monitoring tools and guidelines.
Lead the coordination and provide technical support and expertise leading to the implementation of the wheat flour fortification pilots.
Evaluate the implementation of the pilot and draft a plan for the expansion of the wheat flour fortification project WHF.
Support with the implementation of a cost-benefit analysis exercise of the wheat flour fortification, to be used as a top-level advocacy tool for national Policy makers.
Support the Government, mainly the national committee for wheat flour fortification, in developing the framework for a National WHF Programme.
For Bread Value Chain:
Lead and support the work around Bread Value Chain and its activities.
Evaluate the current bread value chain, identify the bottlenecks and provide relevant technical recommendations to enhance the efficiency of the value chain.
Provide technical support to rehabilitation projects of silos, mills and bakeries.
Support the CO in updating the Bread Value Chain strategy.
Provide support to the government in technical aspects around the Bread Value Chain.
In addition to the above, the incumbent will:
Represent WFP in technical and coordination meetings within the country, region and in other places as needed.
Draft key documents and reports as required.
Coordinate with internal and external stakeholders for development of appropriate communication materials, technical documents, advocacy briefs, and related materials to drive key bread value chain and WHF activities.
Aligned with the above accountabilities and responsibilities the consultant deliverables are as follows:
Development of a Framework for national WHF policy including a roadmap to be undertaken for implementation of the mandatory wheat flour fortification agenda in Syrian Arab Republic and in coordination with MoH and MOITCP.
Develop an implementation plan for the fortification pilot.
Develop guidelines for monitoring, quality control and quality assurance of the fortification operation.
Develop the tendering documents for Feeders, premix and required lab equipment’s.
Develop the instructions on the installation, calibration and troubleshooting of fortification operation.
Updated bread value chain strategy.
Technical notes on improving the bread value efficiency chain at actor level (Silos, Mills, Bakeries,…etc.)
Other tasks as required by the supervisor.
Advanced University degree (Masters) in Public Policy, Public Administration, International Development, International Relations, Sociology, Anthropology or other related fields relevant to Social Protection, or a First University degree with two additional years of experience related to the fields of nutrition/food fortification and/or public health policy and/or program review, planning, designing, and implementation/monitoring.
At least six years of experience building capacities of government sectors and/or other partners on areas broadly related to nutrition and health. Experience in providing strategic policy advice to national government(s). Proven experience in managing multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral working groups and negotiations in national and/or international settings, particularly in the field of food fortification and/or nutrition.
Fluency (level C) in spoken and written English. Fluency (level C) in spoken and written Arabic will be considered an asset.
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