National Participatory Village Planning Framework Consultant

Spark MicroGrants

Spark MicroGrants

kigali, rwanda
Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Advancing Citizen Engagement PROJECT

Terms of Reference


The Government of Rwanda, in cooperation with Spark Microgrants and the World Bank, is committed to further enhancing effective local governance and development to improve livelihoods in Rwanda. The Advancing Citizens Engagement Project aims to improve livelihoods and capacity of communities and national and local government for citizen engagement. It is a pilot project covering 249 villages in Rwanda, with the goal of producing lessons and a model to be scaled up through a National Framework for Participatory Village Planning.

The Project Components are:

  • Component 1: Village and Local Government Capacity Building. This component finances training and technical assistance activities to build the capacity of local government at the district, sector and cell levels to facilitate community-driven village development planning to enhance citizen engagement and improve rural livelihoods. It also builds community capacity to participate in village development planning and to manage subprojects they identify themselves.
  • Component 2: Microgrants. This component finances village-level subprojects identified in village development plans (from Component 1). Each target village will be provided a grant of US$8,000, disbursed over two years (60 percent in year one and the balance of 40 percent in year two). Target villages choose the subproject(s) to be financed by the microgrant to improve the social and/or economic welfare of the village, in support of their stated goals. Other than a limited set of disallowed costs, communities have a free choice of project, as long as it meets proposal review criteria. Criteria include i) designed to bring communal benefits to the village in support of their stated goals; ii) gender mainstreamed; iii) technically viable; iv) consistent with environmental and social risk management frameworks; and v) adequate governance and maintenance arrangements are detailed. Due to the small size of the grant and relatively high levels of public infrastructure in Rwanda, it is anticipated that most subprojects will be small-scale, communally managed livelihoods activities, such as a cattle rearing, small livestock (goats, sheep) and moto-taxi businesses. The microgrant subproject proposals include a work plan and budget, including inputs, costs, people responsible, and timelines for implementation. 5% of total microgrant funds are contributed by District Governments. The project also provides funds to support technical advisers for each project to support technical planning and implementation (such as engineers or veterinarians).
  • Component 3: National Framework for Participatory Village Planning. Component Three aims to consolidate lessons from the pilot activities under components one and two and support the government of Rwanda to prepare a National Framework for Participatory Village Planning (NFPVP). Activities under this component will: (a) integrate the FCAP into existing planning systems; (b) promote the effectiveness of community-driven planning methodologies among government stakeholders; and (c) develop a framework for a government-owned national scale initiative to strengthen participatory, village-led planning and development – the NFPVP.

With respect to Project components, full details can be viewed through the link to the World Bank Projects and Operations website for this project. Proponents should familiarise themselves with the Project Appraisal Document (PAD) in so far as it is necessary to deliver on these Terms of Reference (ToR).

The assignment

This assignment aims to support delivery of project component 3 – specifically the development of a National Framework for Participatory Village Planning, which builds on lessons learned through the implementation of the ACE project to date.

The objectives of this assignment are to support Spark Microgrants and the Government of Rwanda to i) facilitate an existing working group to discuss and agree on key technical aspects of the NFPVP; ii) conduct a review of both Rwandan government systems and progress to date in the ACE project, in order to inform and guide the discussions of the working group; and iii) draft the NFPVP based on the outcomes of the working group meetings.


Village planning plays a crucial role in the sustainable development and growth of rural communities. It involves engaging local stakeholders, including community members, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, in the decision-making processes that shape their villages' future. By encouraging active participation, village planning ensures that development initiatives align with local needs, aspirations, and available resources.

In Rwanda, the Government has recognized that improving village governance will be an important part of reaching the country’s goals of achieving middle-income status. The government recognizes that achieving middle-income status will require further improvements in institutions to encourage greater creativity and initiative by central and local government officials, and to improve responsiveness to citizens’ concerns. The Ministry of Local Government’s Governance and Decentralization Sector Strategic Plan states that, ‘Governance and decentralization are key enablers of the socioeconomic transformation, which are expected to lead to improved welfare for the citizens.’ The Rwanda Governance Board has recommended strengthening citizen engagement (CE), particularly in terms of bottom-up planning. The Local Administrative Entities Agency (LODA) of the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC), has also highlighted the ongoing centralized nature of decision making in Rwanda and asserted that village planning processes need to be strengthened to ensure that local leaders represent the needs of communities. This is expected to improve the alignment between community needs and public spending, in the process leading to more effective use of government resources and better development outcomes for the rural poor.

The 2001 decentralization policy was designed to strengthen citizen engagement and begin the shift to a more bottom-up, participatory approach to development planning, and significant progress has been made. However, citizen voice and participation remains limited and planning processes are still centralized and top-down. This has seen many of the poor in rural areas – and particularly marginalized members of the community such as youth, persons with disabilities and women – being left out of the benefits of Rwanda’s economic growth.

Multiple analyses have highlighted that the government needs to strengthen citizen engagement in local governance to improve development outcomes. The government has launched a number of initiatives to enhance CE, including through LODA’s August 2019 concept note to strengthen Citizen Engagement in Social Protection Programs. However, these efforts remain a work in progress, as acknowledged in the 2019 joint Government of Rwanda (GoR)-World Bank Future Drivers of Growth study, which observed that ‘the government’s top-down approach to public administration...impairs trust and stifles local initiative and creativity.’ The Rwanda Governance Board’s 2019 Scorecard indicator for citizen participation decreased by 3.79 percent compared to the previous year, with the lowest score being for “percentage of citizens satisfaction in their participation in elaboration of District budget and Plans.” The need to strengthen citizen participation is reflected in the National Strategy for Transformation 2017-2024 (NST1). In particular, priority areas 5 and 6 under the Transformational Governance Pillar, ‘Strengthen capacity, service delivery and accountability of public institutions’ and ‘Increase citizens’ participation, engagement and partnerships in Development’, are seen as important strategies for improving livelihood and social welfare.

While there are a number of ongoing initiatives and institutions in place to strengthen citizen engagement, the government lacks a comprehensive framework for inclusive planning at the grassroots village-level. Local government capacity for participatory planning is also limited. At the village level, community mobilization is undertaken by Social Economic Development Officers (SEDOs) within the respective cell government administrative units. SEDOs have a good understanding of government targets to reduce poverty, improve household assets and support food security. However, many feel ill-equipped to mobilize citizens to own and lead change. Engagement processes continue to be influenced by top-down development objectives, with limited technical capacity for community dialogue, feedback cycles, and inclusive participation. Staff to be newly assigned to the cell level will need technical support to effectively reach out to citizens.

Since 2017, Spark Microgrants has worked in partnership with local governments and central government in Rwanda to strengthen participatory village-level actions and development planning, including by training local government officials to lead participatory planning processes. Founded in Rwanda in 2010, Spark has formulated a participatory village development approach that leverages historical Rwandan social organizing practices, including ubudehe, imihigo, and umuganda. This model is called the Facilitated Collective Action Process (the ‘FCAP’, also known as Inzira Y'Iterambere in Kinyarwanda).

The FCAP is a two-year village mobilization and capacity building process to establish a platform for development coordination at the village level. The FCAP approach seeks to prevent elite capture and ensure inclusion and equity. The FCAP builds on existing government planning frameworks and is designed to support implementation of the government’s citizen engagement plans. It brings structure and purpose to existing platforms for citizen engagement by: (a) building the capacity of village leaders and local officials who coordinate the official planning process; (b) mobilizing communities to attend and meaningfully participate in regular weekly village meetings conducted by the government; and (c) supporting the formulation of inclusive village-owned plans that will integrate with plans above the village level. The FCAP helps transform the government’s weekly village meetings from a forum for one-way dissemination of information to a platform for exchange and constructive engagement.

The ACE Project launched in 2021 in two of Rwanda’s five provinces (Northern and Southern provinces), where Spark has a successful track record of implementing community-based development programming with local governments. Within these provinces, the project is concentrated in 249 villages within seven sectors across 4 districts.

To date, Components 1 and 2 of the ACE project have progressed very well, meeting or exceeding all targets, and demonstrating the value of participatory village planning and the viability of transfer of funds directly to communities to support local development.

Under Component 3 of the ACE project, Spark is seeking support from qualified experts to consolidate lessons from the pilot activities under components one and two and support the government of Rwanda to prepare a National Framework for Participatory Village Planning. This is expected to be achieved through:

  • Facilitation of the Policy Working Group housed in LODA. The policy working group was constituted in 2022 and convenes on a quarterly basis. Working group members include technical staff from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) and the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC). District mayors and vice-mayors from the project target areas are also represented on the working group to bring implementation experience from component two to bear in the policy-making process. Members of the group are supported to understand and utilize learning from the JSDF pilot and exposed to international experience on participatory village development planning. External partners from the broader development community may also be invited to contribute on relevant topics/sessions.
  • Consolidating practical experience from components one and two. This will be achieved by reviewing progress reports from the project and discussing at National and subnational level how lessons from implementation can be scaled through the NFPVP. A participatory and consultative approach to identifying and socializing key lessons is expected.
  • Desk-based review of lessons from Rwanda and globally on participatory planning and village development. This will include a summary review of existing village planning frameworks and best practices, both nationally and internationally; existing policies, strategies, and best practices related to participatory village planning, both nationally and internationally; and current institutional and governance structures in place for village planning in Rwanda.
  • Drafting and dissemination policy papers on topics including; (i) integrating with the existing citizen engagement platforms and social protection programs; and (ii) managing risk, including the design of anticorruption and social safeguards elements of a National Framework. The policy papers will also incorporate relevant international experience.

This approach is intended to generate a cost-effective and high-quality policy document for government that is owned by policy makers and built on both strong evidence and real experience from the grassroots.

Activities in component 3 requiring design support from the consultant are as follows:

Activity 1: Facilitate a NFPVP working group

The working group consists of technical level staff from LODA, MINECOFIN, MINALOC, District Governments and Spark. Contributors from other development partners may be included as needed. The working group currently meets on a quarterly basis to move forward key elements of the National Framework for Participatory Village Planning, and reports annually to the PSC. As of September 2023, working group meetings have covered:

  • ACE program progress
  • Findings from program assessments and workshops, including on local government capacity building and SEDO availability
  • Identifying risks, challenges, and gaps in the current FCAP model
  • Progress on designing a scaled-up FCAP program

Future discussion topics may include;

  • Integration of the FCAP into implementation of the Decentralization policy
  • Participatory M&E systems development
  • Feedback and consultation sessions with Development Partners
  • Reporting and evidence sharing
  • Project and FCAP budget analysis (to develop cost models for the National Framework)
  • Integration of participatory methodologies into village planning practices and project delivery practices.
  • Data and results analysis from the project
  • Spatial and economic analysis to inform feasibility and design of the National Framework

  • The consultant is expected to coordinate with Spark’s policy team to coordinate regular working group meetings. They will be responsible for developing the agenda for meetings and facilitating discussion in accordance with a workplan to be agreed in advance with the Spark management team. Given the unpredictable nature of Government staff’ schedules, the plan is expected to accommodate flexibility and be responsive to changing needs. Consultants may advise on opportunities to invite other relevant stakeholders to participate in working group meetings or for ACE stakeholders to join other relevant forums in support of NFPVP development and adoption.

Activity 1 Deliverables:

  • Working group discussion schedule outlining thematic content of meetings and desired outcomes/decisions.
  • Background materials submitted before each thematic meeting.
  • Signed meeting minutes submitted after each meeting.

Activity 2: District Consultation and Learning Visits

The objective of this activity is to facilitate exchange of learning between citizens, local government and national government stakeholders, contributing to policy-relevant learning, and to support district and village involvement in the policy process.

At least 3 District-level conferences/events will be organised for knowledge exchange between Government staff and village members, to support district and village involvement in the policy process. These workshops will convene subnational champions to advocate for participatory village planning, helping to share learnings from ACE’s community-driven approaches with central government stakeholders. These visits will facilitate consultation with local government officials and beneficiaries on issues specific to the National Framework, with accompanying central Government staff. They are intended to facilitate exposure of national-level stakeholders to evidence from village-level stakeholders, and foster inclusion of citizen voices into the policy development process. They will be targeted towards developing the understanding of central Government stakeholders on key issues, and to facilitate experiential learning of key project results/impacts. The conclusions from these meetings will be captured in summary reports and meeting minutes, in will contribute to policy papers.

  • The consultant is expected to organize and convene these consultations, in coordination with Spark’s Policy and Program teams. They will be responsible for developing the agenda for consultations, lists of attendees, and for co-facilitating discussion (with Spark staff and local governments). Plans for each consultation will be developed by the consultant and reviewed and approved in advance by the Spark management team.

Activity 2 Deliverables:

  • Consultation plan outlining thematic content of meetings and desired outcomes/decisions, and a schedule and draft agenda.
  • Presentations/facilitation plan submitted before each consultation.
  • Signed attendance records submitted after each consultation.
  • Summary report of consultation proceedings and outcomes.

Activity 3: National level consultations

The objective is to build a coalition in support of the NFPVP through exchange of learning between citizens, local government and national government stakeholders, and other development partners, contributing to policy-relevant learning, and to support district and village involvement in the policy process.

At least two national-level conferences in Kigali will be organised on citizen engagement and participatory methodologies. These conferences will be attended by local and national level government stakeholders, and selected development partners, civil society and universities. These conferences will facilitate learning, dialogue and consensus building and key issues related to participatory development planning, rural livelihoods, and citizen engagement.

These consultations must be designed to deliver learning relevant to the development of the NFPVP. They will leverage evidence from ongoing project activities and be structured and facilitated to support the design of a scaled-up national programming, building on successes and lessons learned from the ongoing pilot. Discussion topics will be selected by the project team based on need, but may include;

  • Reviewing Rwanda’s decentralized development planning process to incorporate community-led village development.
  • Local government training and capacity building to enhance citizen engagements - lessons learned from the ACE project and how to scale successes.
  • Citizen voice and accountability – incorporating citizen feedback loops to enhance development programs and service delivery.

  • The consultant is expected to organize and convene these conferences in coordination with Spark’s Policy team. They will be responsible for developing the agenda for the conferences, lists of attendees, and for co-facilitating discussion (with Spark staff and national government). Consultants will advise on and support the execution of strategies for mobilizing key national-level decision-makers and champions to participate in organized consultations. Plans for each conference will be developed by the consultant and reviewed and approved in advance by the Spark management team.
  • The consultant will liaise with two project-supported Technical Advisors embedded in MINALOC and LODA to support national-level consultations and engagement.

Activity 3 Deliverables:

  • Conference plan outlining thematic content of meetings and desired outcomes/decisions, and a schedule and draft agenda.
  • Presentations, background materials, and promotional materials submitted before each conference.
  • Signed attendance records submitted after each conference.
  • Summary report of conference proceedings and outcomes.

Activity 4: Background research on Rwandan systems for participatory planning

As a complement to bottom-up evidence generated through the project, the consultant will leverage evidence and best practices to support development of a high-quality and scalable design for the National Framework. This includes background research into participatory methodologies and their application across a range of contexts in Rwanda.

Desk-based research will be focused on a summary review of:

  1. Existing village planning frameworks and best practices, both nationally and internationally;
  2. Existing policies, strategies, and best practices related to participatory village planning, both nationally and internationally;
  • Current institutional and governance structures in place for village planning in Rwanda.

  • The consultant is expected to conduct desk-based research on the topics above, and to draft and disseminate two policy papers on i) Lessons learned and areas for improvement in Rwanda’s current village development and village planning framework; and ii) Lessons learned and best practices from international experience in participatory village development. The papers are expected to cover both technical and operational lessons, and should be a maximum of 5-7 pages in length. Background research in support of key policy analysis may be contained in annexes if needed. The paper topics are subject to change based on interest and need from government stakeholders as engaged throughout the NFPVP development process.

Activity 4 Deliverables:

  • Research plan for both topics submitted
  • Summary of research and draft outline of policy papers submitted
  • Full draft of policy papers submitted
  • Final draft of policy papers submitted.

Activity 5: Drafting the NFPVP

The NFPVP is expected to be a 10-15 page document in the style of a detailed concept note. It will include the following sections (not an exclusive list):

  • Brief rationale for a NVPVP
  • Outline of the NFPVP, including objectives and core features of the program/process, including required financing and/or reforms, and the roles and responsibilities of various institutions. Core features may include:
    • Updated annual village development planning process
    • Updated village development plan/proposal review process at District level
    • Improved financing system for village development planning
    • Detailed institutional arrangements
    • Key capacities and roles of implementing agencies required
    • Estimated costs
  • Summary of existing relevant policies, processes and institutions that are involved in implementation of the NFPVP.
  • Expected outcomes/development results.
  • Description of key qualitative aspects of the framework’s constituent parts, such as:
    • How to encourage active community participation and consultation in village planning processes.
    • How to promote inclusivity by engaging diverse stakeholders, including marginalized groups and vulnerable populations.
    • How to facilitate the identification of community priorities, needs, and aspirations.
    • How to enable the integration of environmental sustainability and climate resilience in village development plans.

  • The consultant is expected to draft the NFPVP collaboratively, based on the outcomes of activities 1-4. Drafts will be developed and presented to key stakeholders so that inputs are collected along the way and consensus on key features is developed throughout. The final draft is expected to be endorsed by the Government of Rwanda, thus must be in a form familiar and acceptable to counterparts in LODA, MINALOC, and MoF. The consultant will work with government counterparts to identify the process for review, endorsement, and eventual adoption of the NFPVP, which will be submitted as a deliverable.

Activity 5 Deliverables:

  • NVPVP contents page/outline submitted
  • Proposed government endorsement plan
  • First draft NVPVP submitted in Word and PPT
  • Final draft NFPVP submitted in Word and PPT

Other Information

Contract duration: Six (6) months

Submission deadline: Tuesday 26th September 2023

Please send completed proposals through the link with a copy to