Call For Concept Notes on Investing in the Rain-Fed Agriculture in Sudan

The Embassy of The Netherlands, Khartoum

Duration: 4 years

Budget: €23 mln

Deadline: September 30, 2021

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, via the Embassy of the Netherlands in Khartoum, intends to fund a four-year food and nutrition security program in Sudan targeting the development of smallholder farmers in rain-fed agriculture for the Darfur region and South Kordofan State.

The Embassy, therefore, invites organizations interested in implementing such a program to submit concept notes. The Embassy will evaluate and compare the concept notes against the criteria set forth. Concept notes that do not meet the criteria set to a satisfactory level will be rejected and will not be considered further.

The submission of a concept note is the first stage of a two-stage application process. Funding will not be provided based on a concept note. At the second stage, a maximum of two applicants or lead partners of a consortium whose applications rank highest will be invited to submit a full proposal. These two applicants who successfully passed the concept note threshold will be provided with substantive criteria and outlines of the full proposal. The proposal that meets the criteria and outlines best may qualify to be selected.

The total funding available under this call for concept notes is up to €23 million over four years. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will fund only one proposal or none, up to the maximum funding available. Please be aware that for budgetary reasons there may be a possibility that the program will ultimately not be awarded.

Below are the context and main features of the envisaged program. Key criteria that will be used in the selection process are described at the end of this paper.

After reviewing the frequently asked questions FAQ, further questions can be submitted by email until Monday 20, September 2021 using both of the following e-mail addresses.

The responses to the received questions will be published on Thursday 23 September 2021.

If interested, you must submit a concept note and annexes to the Netherlands Embassy in Khartoum by using the following e-mail address, no later than (Thursday 30, September, 2021, by 23:59 CAT). Late submission after the deadline will not be considered.

I. Policy Background

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the basis for the Netherlands’s policy on Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. This policy is set out in the policy document ‘Investing in Global Prospects’ [1]. In the implementation of this policy, the empowerment of women and youth [2] is cross-cutting all interventions. The Netherlands sees cooperation between government, the private sector, civil society organizations, and knowledge institutions as indispensable to meet socio-economic challenges in a comprehensive and sustainable way.

The Netherlands’ efforts to contribute to SDG 2 is elaborated upon in the policy letter on food and nutrition security of 6 June 2019 (‘Op weg naar een wereld zonder honger in 2030: de Nederlandse inzet’, Parliamentary Papers 33625, no. 280). Concerning Sudan, the Multiannual Country Strategy (MACS) [3] of Sudan (2019-2022) states that the Netherlands plans to contribute to the following objectives:

  • Job creation in the private sector (especially for youth and women);
  • Sustainable increased production in rain-fed agriculture systems;
  • Improvement of food and nutrition security of vulnerable people;
  • Improvement of water harvesting at household level to increase year-round water availability;
  • Inclusive and sustainable solutions for conflicts around land and increased access to land;
  • Gender equality and women empowerment.

Therefore, the Government of the Netherlands, through its Embassy in Khartoum (called “the Embassy” henceforth), intends to give a financial contribution to an organization who can implement and monitor a new four-year food and nutrition security program in West Sudan. To ensure the greatest possible return on public resources, the Embassy invites interested organizations (or a consortium with one lead partner) to prepare and submit a concept note as per the guidelines and criteria described in this document. The Embassy will evaluate and compare the concept notes, based on which it will select and invite one or two organizations to prepare a full proposal.

II. Introduction

Since the revolution in 2019 in Sudan, the Transitional Government of Sudan (TGoS) is in place to promote peace and development. In 2020, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, met with the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Asmaa Abdullah. During this meeting, Minister Kaag confirmed the Dutch support for democratic reforms and socio-economic transitions in Sudan.

In its growth, rebuilding, and resilience agenda [4], the TGoS attaches great importance to agricultural sector development and support for smallholder farmers and rural youth employment in particular. Developing the crop and livestock sectors are significant  for the TGoS to address the economic crises and establish a base for economic recovery, stability, and sustainable development. This includes improving domestic agricultural production and reducing the import of food. This will also address Sudan’s high levels of food and nutrition insecurity, caused by insufficient availability of food, economic decline (worsened by COVID-19), and high inflation (including high food prices). With more than 50% of the Sudanese people directly depending on agriculture for their livelihood, sustainable development of the sector will have a direct impact on (long term) food and nutrition security, rural employment and income generation. Considering the agenda of the TGoS, policy and regulatory reforms [5] in the agriculture and food sectors are expecting, but not yet articulated in detail and announced.

The Embassy has identified the development of a food and nutrition security programme as an important new component in its portfolio to help Sudan to strengthen the productive sector. A scoping mission in March 2020, executed by three independent consultants, explored the initial idea with Dutch and Sudanese stakeholders and concluded there is a significant need and potential for a Dutch-supported, Embassy-coordinated program. Building on the foundation put in place by the scoping mission report, a formulation mission in October 2020 assisted the Embassy in developing programme guidelines, within the frameworks of the BHOS and the MACS Sudan. This call for concept notes is largely based on the findings of the scoping study and the formulation mission.

With respect to the geographical focus, the MACS states that this program will focus its activities on the Netherlands’ geographic priorities in Sudan: Darfur Region and South Kordofan State. Darfur and Kordofan are rain-fed areas with high levels of household food and nutrition insecurity. Large numbers of people are depending for more than 50% of the calorific intake on food aid. At the same time, there are agribusinesses' interests and opportunities to invest in the sustainable economic development of smallholder farmers and SME’s. Within the Darfur Region, it is proposed to focus on East and Central Darfur and South Darfur based on agronomic conditions and interests of agro-businesses. This geographic focus, however, does not exclude other windows of opportunity in the Darfur Region.

III. The rain fed agricultural sector in Darfur and South Kordofan

Conditions in the rain-fed agricultural sector in Darfur region and Kordofan state allow for the production of a variety of staple and cash crops as well as for animal husbandry, rangeland and forestry. The predominant agricultural activities in the areas include sorghum, millet, groundnut and sesame cultivation, livestock rearing (in order of importance: sheep, goats, cattle and camels) and forestry (variety of Acacia species including gum-arabic).

Smallholder farming is the main livelihood for the majority of the people, and has historically shown great resilience, capacity for adaptation and adjustment. The traditional rain-fed sector is generally a low-input/low-output system primarily for subsistence. Only seasonal surpluses are sold at the local markets. Agricultural operations are carried out mostly through family labour and depend to a large extent on the use of hand tools and animal traction. When able to and considered rational, smallholders are willing to use new technologies and change cultural practices. It is because of such adaptability that there exists a continuum of types of smallholder farms, both in the livestock and crop production sub-sectors. Most produce food for own consumption with some producing a surplus for the market. Others are part-time farmers: they keep farms, go to work in cities or mines and return during the rainy season to grow a range of food and cash crops or look after their livestock herds. Many farmers are member of some form of Farm Producer Organisation (FPO) or another.

In the current business environment it is very difficult for start-ups to establish a new business, or for existing MSMEs to scale up. There are too many uncertainties and operating in the formal economy is made difficult. As a result, the private sector in the agriculture and food sector is  dominated by a small number of large corporates [6], which are well organized and connected to either foreign or domestic capital. These corporates govern the most important supply chains on the basis of their own (irrigated) production capacity, value adding activities (storage, processing, etc.) and access to capital for trade and supplies. The following commodities from farmers in the rain-fed agricultural areas are of most interest to these companies: (a) oilseeds (groundnut, sesame and to some extent also sunflower); (b) cereals (mainly sorghum); (c) sheep and other livestock for fattening and exports; (d) other commodities (gum arabic, watermelon seeds and guar).

The TGoS has increased interest for the rain-fed agricultural sector with the aim to address the economic crises and laying the foundation for the economic reform [7]. Under the al-Bashir regime the productive sectors were neglected. The Sudan’s National Agriculture Investment Plan (SUDNAIP) is a five-year plan (2018 – 2022) with targets of six percent annual growth in agriculture GDP and increasing productivity and efficiency at the production and processing stages. It is aligned to the Sudan National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA). Currently, the TGoS is in the process of reforming the policies and programs for the agricultural sector [8]. TGoS priorities for the agriculture sector are including,  among other things: increase the allocation of the national budget for agriculture by 10%, establish an Agro-industry Fund, peace-justice-food security nexus, land use planning, adaptation to climate change and enabling policy environment, reducing food import and increasing export, and invest in research and extension services. Efficiency utilization of surface and groundwater for small-scale irrigation in rain-fed zones is amid the outcomes of transformative packages in the rehabilitation of Sudan’s water sector [9]. FAO and the WFP responding to a request from the Sudan Prime Minister by working on designing a ‘fit for purpose’ Agriculture & Livestock Transformation Agency (ALTA) as an innovative instrument to boost agricultural transformation in Sudan.

IV. Problem analysis

The productivity levels of rain-fed smallholder farmers in Darfur region and South Kordofan State are far below the potential. Up to date, the Darfur region and South Kordofan are experiencing poor socio-economic conditions, very high staple food prices, and the loss of productive assets.  Both areas are classified in Phase 2 (‘stressed’) and 3 (‘in crisis’) or worse according to the food insecurity Integrated Phase Classification (IPC, 2021) [10]. This is related to a wide range of causes: climate change and recurrent natural disasters (droughts, pests), poor natural resource management (NRM) and declining soil fertility, conventional farming practices, inadequate agricultural inputs and access to market information, significant post-harvest losses (up to 40%), recurrent conflict and insecurity which prevents farming and herding, and socio-economic factors including poor market access (both for sales of farm products as well as procurement of inputs).

Smallholder farmers are facing major challenges in breaking the cycle of subsistence farming and low productivity. The farmers lack knowledge and skills in modern and adaptive farming techniques and are engaged in bleak undiversified livelihood opportunities. Most of the farmers are not stand for lining up in farmers producers organizations (FPOs) in its current form, which often do not fulfil their socio-economic rights and needs. The necessary legal basis for FPOs registration is unclear, technical support and granting privilege for cooperatives as ideal engines for social and economic growth is minor. Financial institutions, especially banks, are reluctant to lend to smallholders due to limited collateral. The accessibility of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to credit and sector-specific loans are restrained, which eliminates their role to invest in appropriate food processing technology and nutrition-sensitive products. Land titles and property rights, managed through customary community-based systems, i.e. the traditional hakura system in Darfur, are among the challenges. Public extension services [11] are inefficient in reaching out due to a shortage of operational funds and unskilled staffing, while private agents of the agriculture-oriented companies mostly target large-scale farmers in mechanized and irrigated schemes. Women farmers, even though being the majority of smallholder farmers, have much less access to assets, inputs, services, land rights, and markets. This excluded them from the benefit of development activities. With poor access to natural resources include land, and lack of means to exploit the agricultural potential, prospects for young people are bounded. The  employment opportunities offered by existing MSMEs for youth are often not very productive causing them to go for alternatives in gold mines, cities and abroad.

It is generally acknowledged that there is no enabling environment for agribusinesses and farming development, which includes a lack of access to agriculture services for primary producers. The regulatory systems for businesses in Sudan are one of the least favorable in the world. Patronage and mismanagement have held back investment in the agriculture sector for decades. Policy and regulatory issues (e.g. management of an export cargo terminal, phytosanitary inspections,  taxation, cooperatives development, title deeds for women farmers) negatively impact inclusive business developments. On the World Bank’s ‘ease-of-doing-business list Sudan ranks 171 out of 190 [12]. The level of private investment in primary production and/or upstream value chain improvements in the rain-fed smallholder sector is rudimentary. This has prevented smallholders from taking advantage of market opportunities and employment. Inadequate physical infrastructures, especially in transport and energy (with frequent power interruptions), resulted in a high cost of production, which drove agricultural business out of some activities. Large corporates procure agricultural produce from smallholders through their buying agents or informal traders/collectors in the rural areas. Contract farming with smallholders in the rainfed areas has been tried and tested at a low scale. Nevertheless, farmers have unfair economic partnerships, which lead to weak negotiating power vis-à-vis the main wholesale buyers and processing companies. Private sector activity in job creation is limited, while the dominant role of large corporates and investors in the agricultural supply chains does not favor MSMEs development.  The investment industry in agriculture and food systems is insufficient and typically along short-chain routes. Enhancing the diet quality and accessing retail outlets for healthy diverse foods to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) households is rarely the goal of such industry actors.

Agriculture production in semi-arid regions is threatened by climate variability, as indicated by the year-to-year differences in both precipitation and crop yields. This increases the risk of reduced production, harvest failure, animal deaths, and food shortages. Expansion of cultivated areas in the rain-fed zones to compensate declining in agricultural productivity has led to the degradation of the land and water resources, deterioration and of rangelands, and fueling communal conflicts [13]. The traditional farming techniques and monoculture of crops exacerbate declining soil quality and the build-up of pests and diseases. The absence of timely climate information and technical support renders smallholder farmers in rain-fed agriculture become increasingly risk-averse. The use of inappropriate technology has had a significant impact on the environment, leading to forest clearance, soil erosion, and land degradation [14]. Opportunities for promoting agroforestry systems in rural areas are often out of reach, with a minor focus on maintaining biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Lack of food-water-climate nexus approach and water harvest techniques and structures (e.g. surface dams, shallow and deep bore wells, hafirs, dykes) prevents farmers from efficient use of runoff water in supplementary irrigation.  

V. Outline for the program


The overarching objective (impact) that the Minister is pursuing with this call aiming at supporting a four-year bilateral food and nutrition security program is to contribute to household food and nutrition security and sustainable, resilient, and fair economic development of smallholders and SMEs in the rain-fed agriculture areas in West of Sudan.

To achieve the overall objective, a theory of change needs to be developed that indicates how the following change will be realized, the underlying assumptions need to be verified, and if necessary, adjust the outcome and output indicators accordingly:

1. From low productivity levels to sustainable increased production and income for (female, young) smallholder farmers and (female-headed / youth-led) agro-SMEs in rain-fed agriculture areas.

Key outcome indicators:

  • Small-scale food producers (male/female/young) have doubled their productivity and income.
  • Number of small-scale food producers (male/female/young) who have become more resilient to climate and other shocks.
  • Number of hectares of land (disaggregated for agriculture and grazing) where sustainable agro ecological practices and efficient water use have been instituted.
  • Number of people for whom more and better food has become available.

Key output indicators:

  • Number of small-scale food producers (male/female/young) reached directly with activities (technologies/products/services) designed to raise productivity and income.
  • Number of farmers’ groups/organizations/cooperatives, and total number of member beneficiaries, supported.
  • Number of hectares of farmland (disaggregated for agriculture and grazing) directly reached with activities (technologies/products/services) aimed at increasing ecological sustainability.

2. Agri-businesses have taken a more inclusive approach in terms of partnerships, supply contracts, and value chain development with smallholders and agro-SMEs in rain-fed areas.

Key outcome indicators:

  • Number of companies engaged in inclusive agribusiness.
  • Number of strengthened farmers’/ workers’/ entrepreneurs’/ traders’ organisations for a sustainable local business climate
  • Number of companies with a supported plan to invest, trade or provide services (Dutch/ non-Dutch; male/ female; youth).
  • Numbers of links created by large agribusinesses with agro-SME’s.

 Key output indicators:

  • Number of direct jobs supported in individually supported SME by private sector programs (male/ female; youth)
  • Amount of mobilized private finance (million EUR).

3.  A more conducive environment for smallholder farmers, agro-SMEs and agribusiness to benefit from economic partnerships

Key outcome indicators:

  • Number of reforms/ improvements in major (inter)national FNS policies/ laws/ regulations.
  • Number of people (male/female/young) that enjoyed (more) secure land use.
  • Number of (inter)national institutions that contributed to improved (sub)national land governance aspects.
  • Number of farmers that adopted new knowledge and/or technologies.
  • Number of FNS-relevant knowledge institutions that perform better.  

The interconnection between the different outcomes can be shown, quantitatively, using the percentage of beneficiaries reached who profit simultaneously from several different effects, and qualitatively, by explaining the significance of these cumulative effects and sustainability elements. These two measures can serve as a proxy for the synergistic effects that can contribute to transformations towards sustainable and resilient food systems.

VI. Approach

The food systems approach (FSA) provides the conceptual framework that underpins the theory of change for this food and nutrition security program in Sudan. The FSA outlines the relationships between the different parts of the food system and the outcomes of activities within the system in socio-economic and environmental/climate terms. Feedback loops are a distinguishing factor in systems thinking: they occur between parts of the food chain (production, processing, distribution, and consumption) and from the socio-economic and environmental outcomes of food production and consumption (such as food and nutrition security and water and soil depletion) back to that production and consumption.

The FSA framework [15] offers several benefits to the program implementation team. First, it provides a checklist of topics that should at the very least be addressed when it comes to improving food and nutrition security. Second, FSA helps to map the impact of socio-economic drivers, the physical environment and climate changes on food and nutrition security by pointing to the various vulnerabilities of the food system. Third, it helps to assess limiting factors for achieving food and nutrition security, and hence identify effective leverage points aimed at improving food and nutrition security.

What’s more, applying a food system approach framework, which shows where the main interactions and feedback between the subsystems occur,  produces several of useful insights [16]:

  1. Mapping out opportunities for more efficient use of natural resources (beyond  one product and/or value chain).
  2. Highlighting the importance of the food system’s socio-economic context.
  3. Showing the implications of the food system for health, nutrition, livelihoods and the environment.
  4. Helping shed light on the trade-offs between different intervention strategies.
  5. Illustrating non-linear processes and feedback loops in the food system.

This program aims to transform food systems in rain-fed areas to be more resilient and equitable by identifying and implementing possible nutrition-sensitive value chain interventions that boost this transition inclusively and sustainably.

VII. Concept Note Outlines

Entities that meet the eligibility requirements (see VIII below) are invited to prepare a concise concept note. The concept note should not exceed 10 pages [17]. The concept note should cover the following sections:

  1. A signed statement in the form of a covering letter (not part of the concept note) by the applicant or consortium lead partner, confirming that there are no grounds for exclusion and that the eligibility requirements are met;
  2. Cover page (part of the concept note) with:
    • The name(s) of the applicant or lead partner and in case of a consortium the other consortium partners;
    • The name and designation of the contact person and full contact details of the applicant or of the lead partner in case of a consortium;
  3. Understanding of the theory of change and a further specification (including quantifiable and qualitatively – with justification and explanation where necessary) of the outcomes and outputs. (max 2 pages);
  4. Outline of how the program strategies will be implemented from the onset of the program with a focus on how the required impact in terms of food and nutrition security of smallholder farm households in rainfed agriculture areas, private sector engagement, gender transformation and rural youth employment and income generation will be achieved (max 4 pages);
  5. Interpretation of the main risks (external factors impacting negatively on the program progress and/or impact and outcomes, a.o. risks of climate change and conflict) and how the applicant or consortium lead partner intends to avoid or mitigate these risks (max 1 page);
  6. A description of the relevant capacities and track record of the applicant or consortium lead partner including how the different roles and responsibilities of staff will be divided; this section should make it evident that the applicant or consortium lead partner  has adequate experience and capacities to fulfil both the technical assistance responsibilities (full time and short term assignments) as well as the role of manager of the Challenge Fund. It should also explain in summary its track record in managing similar programs, in terms of size, context and complexity. (max 3 pages).

Annexed to the concept note (not part of the ten-page concept note) will be:

  • A summary budget (max 1 page), in euros. Please note that the proposed budget in the application may not exceed the budget amount of €23 mln for four years.
  • maximum of six summaries (1 page each) of recent contracts (see VIII below) which demonstrate that the applicant or consortium lead partner has the necessary competencies and experiences; at least two of the summary sheets will be signed and dated by the respective contracting authority;
  • A brief note with examples (1 page) on how applicant or lead partner and the other consortium partners have learnt and adapted their approaches into program design in the past.
  • summary CV of the proposed program manager-cum-fund manager (max. 3 pages);
  • in case of an application on behalf of a consortium, a signed commitment letter(s) of all partner(s); the commitment letter(s) should clearly state that there will be one leading partner acting as the applicant on behalf of the consortium.

VIII. Eligibility, Technical and professional competence

  • Any capable institution of any nationality is eligible to apply. This can be  a profit or not-profit private or public company, or an NGO, an International Organization, as single applicant or on  behalf of a consortium of organizations. Preferably applying organizations have prior experience  in Sudan,.
  • Having a proven track record in the required field, either based on the organization’s history of interventions or the individuals that will be working on the proposed program. This also apply on other consortium partners.
  • Applicants or consortium lead partners with their consortium partners must implement the project themselves and not simply act as an intermediary channel to provide financing to other implementing parties or subcontract those to execute most of the work.
  • The program implementation will be carried out at the responsibility of, and at the risk of the applicant or consortium lead partner to whom the grant or contribution will be awarded.
  • The proposed activities must be only implemented in Sudan. Basically, in the Darfur region and South Kordofan State.
  • The applicant or consortium lead partner must enclose references (project summary sheets) to six different contracts with the concept note (see VII above). It must be apparent from the reference contracts as a whole that the applicant or consortium lead partner has the following competencies [18]:
  • Building sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food systems in Africa;
  • Sustainable smallholder farming improvements in rainfed agriculture regions (including integrated  water and soil management by local communities);
  • Financial and operational management of a challenge fund or similar financing instruments;
  • Promoting employment and income generation for rural youth and women as well as working on gender transformation
  • Monitoring, evaluation, and learning systems as part of adaptive management of projects and programs under fragile social and economic conditions.
  • The above five competencies must appear at least once within the overall six reference contracts provided. Where the applicant or consortium lead partner relies on a contract that is not yet fully completed, only results actually achieved during the course of the contract will count. The end date of the references must lie not earlier than three years prior to the concept note submission deadline for this call. A contract may therefore have started more than three years ago.
  • When verifying the  applicant’s or consortium lead partner’s statement, the Embassy reserves the right to request further information from the other contracting authorities as to whom the service was performed.
  •  Applicants, or consortium lead partners located outside the EU, should be aware of the following. When selected contingent to competencies and the selection criteria, they must unconditionally accept the ‘contribution agreement’ and its obligations as a contractual modality. The application that contains a reservation concerning one or more contractual conditions or terms will be considered a ‘Tender Subject to Conditions’ and will not be processed.
  • If the selected applicant, or consortium lead applicant is located within the EU,  a grant decision will be used, and the Dutch General Administrative Law, the MOFA grant law, the MOFA grant decree and the MOFA grant regulations 2006  will be applicable.
  • The costs that are needed to hand in an application are for the applicant.

How to apply?

Applications for participation in this food and nutrition security program for the Darfur region and South Kordofan State should be submitted online at the latest at 23:59 CAT, September 30, 2021. Eligible organizations can apply by sending an e-mail with concept note and above-mentioned supporting documents to The subject line of the email should include the name of the applying organization and programme you are applying to:

  • Call for Concept Notes: Investing in Rain-Fed Agriculture in Sudan/Organization Name.

The time when the email is received will be considered the time of submission. Any technical issues relating to electronic submission are at the risk of the applicant. Applications received after 23:59 CAT on Thursday 30, September 2021 will be rejected without being processed. Please note that the email server will reject files larger than 14MB. For Larger files please use the ZIP, or split up into smaller files and sent in separated and clearly numbered emails. Where this is the case, the time at which the last email is received will be considered the time the application is submitted.

IX. Assessment and selection procedure

The selection procedure for this call for concept notes is divided into two rounds. Firstly, after the deadline, the embassy will evaluate the applications against official eligibility criteria and priorities. Please note that incomplete applications or concept notes of more than ten pages (excluding budget and attachments) will be disqualified and will be rejected without being processed. The Embassy will notify a maximum of two applicants with the highest scores (85% and above)  within three weeks following the announced deadline to hand in a full proposal. Unsuccessful applicants will also be notified within the same time frame. The Embassy reserves the right to cancel the call for Concept Notes and/or not to select any of the Concept Notes submitted, in which case applicants will be notified within six weeks after submission.

In the second round, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and embassy staff will make the final selection based on comparing the two proposals. In order to be selected a proposal needs to meet the criteria for assessing the full proposal. A maximum of one proposal, meeting the criteria best, will be selected for funding when the proposal meets the required criteria. Important  to note that the costs that are needed to hand in an application are for the applicant.

The assessment of concept note will be based on criteria as below:

A. Delivery of Outcomes (30%)

  • The level to which the detailed Theory of Change developed by the applicant or consortium members contributes to the objective as formulated in IV section, and the extent to which this is convincingly elaborated in activities that lead to the defined outputs and outcomes, as well as the interlinkages and balance between these results on output and outcome level. 
  • The level to which applicant(s) has/have developed quantitative and qualitative indicators that correspond with the indicators in the Theory of Change;
  • The level to which applicant(s) has/have employed  novel ways to generate solutions into productive sector, and employing innovative or creative approaches. This evaluation criterion will be especially considered in assessing the ideas in their  contribution to transforming food systems. This will includes, among others, climate-smart agriculture, improved cropping techniques, livelihoods diversification, land use planning and ecological sustainability, soil sensing and water use efficiency, productivity monitoring, circular agriculture and strengthening farmers-based organizations.

B. Demonstrated expertise, capacity and partnerships (30%)

  • The level to which the applicant(s) has/have a long-term interest in Sudan (which is in line with their vision and strategy), has/have a good presence, or are prepared to set up a country office with the right expertise in place.
  • The level to which the applicant(s) can demonstrate expertise and a track record with similar projects and programs concerning the five main competencies listed in section VIII above in the Darfur regions and South Kordofan state.
  • The level to which the applicants has/have the needed knowledge, personnel and means, and a role division between consortium partners when collaborating with others, to realize an effective use of the means, involve an appropriate composition of relevant necessary profile/mandate, in addition to the flexible management in learning and adaptation;
  • The level to which the applicant(s) has/have the networks and experience with collaboration with local organizations and governments in Sudan, especially Darfur and South Kordofan State where the activities will be implemented;
  • The level to which the applicant(s) has/have experience with standardized, methodologically supported indicators, results-oriented way of working, evaluations on outcome level, reports such as in IATI [19], and working as a learning organization.
  • Relevant experience with, and a track record of bilateral cooperation with other Dutch (or EU) embassies is a plus.

C. Value for money (10%)

  • The level to which the applicant(s) is/are providing an indicative budgeting for 4 years, showing the major budget categories, in relation to the targets set in the results framework.

D. Conflict Sensitivity and Context Knowledge (10%)

  • The level to which the institutional (political) landscape is analyzed and the level to which this analysis has been translated into the intervention strategy; 
  • The level to which local organizations and governments have (had) effective influence on the establishment and content of the concept note, and the monitoring and steering of activities; 
  • The level to which the applicant(s) can design conflict-sensitive approaches and tools for sustainable conflict sensitive practices. This includes not just avoiding harm by the intervention, but also improving the capacity of different program stakeholders with research and analysis, context and conflict sensitivity trainings, and mentoring [20].
  • The level to which the applicant(s) has/have established an adequate risk management system (including Patronage and corruption inherited by long decades of accountability and transparency, political and economic instability, negative effects of climate change, conflicts between pastoralists and crop producers, fluctuations of prices the global markets and for sure Covid-19 pandemic).

E.  Alignment with relevant (finalized) ODA funded programs in Darfur region and South Kordofan State (10%)

  • The level to which the proposed program further elaborates upon interventions, experiences and knowledge in the area of developing smallholder farmer- and pastoralist systems in Darfur regions and South Kordofan State.

F. Exit strategy (10%)

  • The level to which the program proposal focuses on activities that will have a long-term, sustainable effect on the target groups and that institutionally embed the intervention strategy.


[1] Investing in Global Prospects

[2] Dutch government developed a principles to invest in the prospects of young people. 

[3] Not publicly available

[4] General Framework for the Programme of the Transitional Government - 2019

[5] The Government of Sudan, FAO, and WFP call for investment in  agriculture as the number of people facing acute food insecurity reached a historical high record (20% of the population) – Relief Web June 2021.

[6]These corporates include  Dal Group, Central Trading Co. (CTC), Haggar, investment authorities from the Middle East such as the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development (AAAID) and parastatal companies.

[7] Sudan has cleared its arrears with the International Development Association, giving the country access to new development financing. The country now is qualifying for the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and reducing its nearly $56 billion external debt burden.

[8] Comprehensive National Agricultural Conference towards Effective Policies and Strategies advancing Agricultural Sector held on March 2021. The conference outcomes and recommendations are under the formulation.

[9] Sudan Water Sector Strategy 2021 - 2031

[10] IPC Sudan Acute Food Insecurity April 2021

[11] The public extension is a mandate of Technology Transfer and Extension Administration (TTEA) that covers the transfer of research-endorsed technologies to the farmers for adoption; development of agricultural institutions, mobilization and  participation of stakeholders.

[12] World Bank (2020): Economy Profile Sudan; Doing Business 2020.

[13] The Sudan Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources developed the strategic plan 2021-2031 to transform the water sector and to link water supply to the farming system and peace and security by establishing water harvesting infrastructures in rainfed areas.

[14] Sudan: First State of Environment and Outlook Report 2020

[15] See: Siemen van Berkum, Just Dengerink and Ruerd Ruben, 2018. The food systems approach: sustainable solutions for a sufficient supply of healthy food. Wageningen Economic Research.

[16]  Van Berkum, S., J. Dengerink and R. Ruben (2018). The Food System Approach. Dutch Solutions for Global Challenges. 2018-064, Wageningen Economic Research.

[17] A4 size; font Calibri pt. 11; line spacing 1.08 or more, PDF format.

[18] Tip: The criterion above can also apply to co-applicants.

[19]  Dutch publication guidelines for implementing partners

[20] The Conflict Sensitivity Facility (CSF) is being established in Sudan to test innovative approaches that maximize positive impacts of Aid and Development interventions while at the same time minimizing harm.

Dutch Development corporation in Sudan

  • FNS-REPRO by FAO in North Darfur (focus on the Gum Arabic sector);
  • WaPOR by FAO, remote sensing for water productivity;
  • PROSPECTS-partnership (UNICEF, UNHCR, ILO, IFC and WB) in East Darfur and West Kordofan (where it livelihoods component centers around the agricultural sector);
  • RDPP by RVO in East Sudan (Kassala and Gedaref), taking the agricultural sector as point of departure, focussing on areas with large numbers of refugees and IDPS;
  • Orange Corners by RVO in Khartoum (Nyala and Kassala);
  • Ongoing PSI programmes as DARFOOD (groundnuts in East Darfur), FOGA (Gum Arabic in South Darfur) and 2g@thereOS (potato sector Kassala).