Consultancy for Analytic Study of Institutional Readiness

Terms of Reference

Analytic study of institutional readiness in delivering the National Targeted Program for the Socio-Economic Development of Ethnic Minorities (NTP-SEDEMA) 2021-2030


Vietnam has achieved remarkable progress regarding economic growth and poverty reduction in the last three decades. Poverty rates have sharply declined from over 70% to below 6%, and living standards have improved significantly across the country. However, inequalities and disparities between ethnic groups are not closing fast enough. Ethnic minorities continue to represent the last mile for poverty reduction and human development in Vietnam. Close to 45% of ethnic minorities still live in poverty. Ethnic minorities who comprise less than 15% of the country’s population constituted 73% of the poor in 2016.*

Over the past years, through the Investing in Vietnam’s Ethnic Minorities Pillar (Phase 2) of the Australia-World Bank Partnership Phase (ABP2), the World Bank has actively engaged with government agencies, development partners and civil society, to inform policies, programs and institutional arrangements benefiting ethnic minorities in Vietnam. In particular, in collaboration with the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) and other line ministries tasked with ethnic minority development, the World Bank has been successful in delivering rigorous research and evidence-based policy products which served as foundational documents for the development of the Master Plan for Ethnic Minorities and Mountainous Areas Socio-economic Development, as well as the National Targeted Program for the Socio-Economic Development of Ethnic Minorities (NTP-SEDEMA, hereinafter also referred to as “the Program”), the Investment Policy of which was approved by the National Assembly in 2020. The World Bank commits to continuously working alongside the Government of Vietnam to identify strategic and high priority issues for ethnic minority development and deliver an agenda that is inclusive and equitable.

In 2019 in a joint-effort with CEMA, World Bank has completed a report on the “Drivers of Socio-Economic Development of Ethnic Minority Groups in Vietnam” which analyzed factors underpinning the success of certain ethnic groups, as well as explaining why some other groups continue to encounter challenges. This study demonstrates major issues that need to be addressed in order to narrow the widening gaps between Kinh and non-Kinh groups but also across minority populations. Findings from this study highlight that participatory socio-economic development planning at local level, and mechanisms to engage the most vulnerable and marginal groups, are still lacking, deterring ethnic minority representation in the decision-making process. This results in the delivery of some government-funded production-supporting programs that fall short of target beneficiaries’ needs and, in many cases, reinforce a mentality of dependency among recipients. This research also recognises misperceptions and social stigmas against ethnic minorities found among Kinh cadres and civil servant hinder the implementation of government policies and provision of basic public services to ethnic minorities. It is also evident in this study that the effectiveness of public service delivery, such as healthcare or education, is compromised due to the lack of cultural sensitivity and language barriers among the implementing staff. In this regard, cultural and ethnic sensitivity in addressing poverty for ethnic minorities is recommended as a focus for building capacity for local-level state officials.

Following the issuance of Resolution 88 /2019/QH14 in 2019 approving the Master Plan for Ethnic Minorities and Mountainous Areas Socio-economic Development, the Government of Vietnam promulgated Resolution 120/2020/QH14 in June 2020 to approve the investment policy for NTP-SEDEMA over a ten-year period. One of the major objectives of the Master Plan are to double the average income of ethnic minorities and reduce poverty rates by 3% annually by 2025, and by 2030 to ensure that ethnic minorities have an average income that is half of the national average and ethnic minority poverty rate is reduced to below 10%. To realise the objectives set out in the Master Plan, the NTP-SEDEMA aims to reduce the number of communes, villages and hamlets categorised as extremely difficult by 50% by 2025 and achieve an elimination target by 2030.

The NTP-SEDEMA is led by a National Steering Committee chaired by a Deputy Prime Minister while the Minister of CEMA takes charge as the Deputy Head of the Committee. The NTP-SEDEMA Coordination Office based within CEMA is responsible for assisting the National Steering Committee and CEMA Minister in aspects related to the Program’s management and operation.

The NTP-SEDEMA comprises 10 projects covering wide-ranging cultural, social, economic, and governance issues which will be implemented over two phases (Phase I from 2021 to 2025 and Phase II from 2026 to 2030) and each project is assigned to the management of one ministry-level agency (Resolution 12/NQ-CP). Responsibilities of in-charge agencies are elaborated in Decision 1409/QD-TTg which further provides that a local steering committee shall be set up by the provincial people’s committee. This committee is tasked with overseeing,  planning, implementing and monitoring the operation of NTP-SEDEMA and ensuring the achievement of objectives established in the Master Plan at their respective jurisdiction.

To continue our support to the Government of Vietnam throughout the implementation of the NTP-SEDEMA, the World Bank proposes this consultancy assignment to assess the preparedness of government stakeholders in launching the Program and ensuring its optimal outcomes for ethnic minorities in Vietnam. Findings from this assignment are also expected to inform other World Bank-funded operations targeting ethnic minorities in different parts of Vietnam and other settings.

The World Bank is now recruiting a group of consultants to conduct this assignment and develop a report describing the situation regarding the institutional readiness in delivering the NTP-SEDEMA.

Scope of Work

The recruited group of consultants are expected to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Review existing policy instruments related to the Master Plan and the NTP-SEDEMA design and operation, including but not limited to government’s decrees, resolutions, decisions, and the feasibility study of the NTP-SEDEMA; the overview and focus of Investing in Vietnam’s Ethnic Minorities Pillar within ABP2; and relevant background literature on ethnic minority development and policies in Vietnam;
  • Based on the initial documentation review and literature identify a set of core-competencies needed for the successful implementation of NTP (including client-orientation, inter-cultural awareness, communication skills including active listening, facilitation skills). These will be used to develop interview and group discussion guidelines outlined below.
  • Based on this initial analysis, develop sound qualitative methodology and detailed workplan to conduct the study in consultation with the World Bank team and government counterparts which includes: (i) detailed set of research questions; (ii) detailed interview and/or group discussion guidelines and agenda, (iii) an identification of government stakeholders to be engaged with at different levels (national, province, district and commune), and (iii) a tentative study sites and rationale for their inclusion;
    • It is expected that the analysis will take place in at least one commune/district/Province. The proposed location will be confirmed following the initial literature review. The consultants will assess the feasibility of conducting the analysis in the province of Lao Cai.
    • The research methodology to be developed will include the selection of focus sectors/institutions to be targeted at local levels – with a focus on a narrow set of sectors to keep data collection manageable - agriculture, health and education. Interviews with the Women’s Union may also be considered.
    • Research questions to be developed are expected to include the following aspects: (i) the role of “soft skills” in recruitment for key sectors in EM areas; (ii) the processes in place for assessing these as part of performance and for collecting feedback on the quality of the interaction with clients; (iii) perception of EM clients by government officials and understanding of how these influence client service/sharing of information on key programs and benefits; (iv) perception by EM clients of service provision and interaction with officials and how this may influence service-seeking behavior; and (v) training programs in place for officials and the extent to which some of the core competencies listed above are covered.
    • As part of the research design consultants will propose a set of semi-structured interviews/Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and focus group discussions focusing on both service providers (to assess core competencies, potential gaps as well as training needs for example) and potential clients. A set of FGD and KIIs will be planned with EM groups in the target commune to gain a better understanding of how they perceive interactions with local officials and how these influence access to services/program benefits.
  • Conduct fieldwork as outlined in the proposed methodology over the period agreed with the World Bank. The World Bank will provide logistical support necessary for the consultant team to complete the fieldwork.
  • Develop a report describing the current state of preparedness and outlining challenges facing various stakeholders tasked with the NTP-SEDEMA’s implementation. This report should provide:
    • A description of stakeholders’ current level of knowledge of the overall NTP-SEDEMA and their respective component project, existing capacity in undertaking their responsibilities, as well as their level of influence over the progress and success of the Program;
    • An identification of gaps, for instance, in relation to stakeholders’ skills, knowledge and expertise when planning, delivering and monitoring the NTP-SEDEMA, as well systemic and individual constraints in engaging with and identifying the needs of target beneficiaries; and
    • Recommendations to overcome the identified issues in order to promote institutional capacity and stakeholders’ agency in achieving the ultimate outcomes of the NTP-SEDEMA. This should take into consideration the available and potential resources and funding from the NTP-SEDEMA that will affect the existing capacity of implementing stakeholders.
  • Consult with relevant government agencies, development partners, and other stakeholders to collect their feedback on the draft report and present key findings in consultative workshops (when appropriate)

Timeline for implementation

The consultants are expected to conduct this assignment until February 2022 for a total estimated amount of 40 workdays (lead consultant) and 30 workdays (each team member), and carry out the following activities to deliver the final outputs of the assignment according to the timeframe below:





Recruit a consultant team and finalize contracts

June 30th 2021


Develop an inception note detailing the methodology and timeline for implementation

July 31st 2021


Conduct fieldwork

August-September 2021


Draft a report on institutional readiness

November 30th 2021


Disseminate key findings to World Bank team and/or at relevant workshop(s)

December 2021 –

January 2022


Finalize the report on institutional readiness

February 2022

Requirements for consultants

The World Bank is recruiting a group of three consultants to undertake this assignment, including one team leader and two team members. Qualified consultants are expected to demonstrate the following criteria:

  • Relevant educational qualifications, a minimum of a Master’s Degree, in sociology, anthropology, development studies, or other related areas;
  • At least 15 years (for lead consultant) and 10 years (for team members) of experience working in ethnic minority development, poverty reduction and rural development projects/policies;
  • Extensive experience in working with government agencies, development partners, and ethnic minority communities in mountainous and remote areas in Vietnam;
  • Ability to build relationships and communicate effectively with key research stakeholders;
  • Experience in conducting qualitative policy-based research using participatory methods and ability to synthesize and analyze qualitative data; and
  • Ability to communicate effectively and produce high-quality reports in both English and Vietnamese.

Application process

Interested candidates are invited to submit their individual or group application, including their latest CV and cover letter to by COB Monday May 31st, 2021. Group application should propose in their cover letter a staffing plan for undertaking this assignment which specifies the number of consultants, their qualifications, and respective responsibilities within this consultancy.

Location: Vietnam


(*) World Bank Vietnam. (2018). Climbing the ladder: poverty reduction and shared prosperity in Vietnam (English). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.

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