Terms of Reference for Keyhole and Perma-garden Specialist, Short-term Service Contract – Mercy Corps Ethiopia

Category:  Agriculture
Career Level:  Mid Level ( 2+ – 5 years experience)
Employment Type:  Contract

Job Description

Title of the position:          Short-term Service Contract, Perma-garden Specialist

Duration:                              6 months

Period:                                   Starting from 11 October 2021 to 10th April 2022

Reporting Lines:                  Senior Nutrition Advisor, Resilience in Pastoral Areas (RiPA), Mercy Corps  Ethiopia

Location:                              Mercy Corps Ethiopia, Addis Ababa Office plus all field sites of the Resilience in Pastoral Areas (RiPA), Afar, Oromiya and Somali regions

  1. Background of the project

The Resilience in Pastoral Areas Activity (RiPA) Activity will improve the resilience capacities of households, markets, and governance institutions across the Afar, Oromia and Somali regions, collectively contributing to enhanced food security and inclusive economic growth for over 129,129 households. Mercy Corps, in partnership with CARE, will implement an integrated program to address underlying causes of vulnerability to shocks and stresses.

Consumption of diversified diets by pastoral and agro pastoral households is one of the major objectives for C4. Nutrition plays a very important role in attaining a high level of achievements in life. Perma-gardening is one of the nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions that will be promoted by the Resilience in Pastoral Areas Activity (RiPA) project as a means of improving dietary diversity and nutrition security at household level. Perma-gardening is a technique that is new to most lowland areas of Ethiopia, where pastoralists are mostly dependent on the livestock product and productivity for household consumption.   Nutrition in these areas is often very poor, as households produce a limited number of crops, and very few vegetables, in an agricultural system that is entirely rain-fed/ irrigation based. To help address these challenges, Resilience in Pastoral Areas Activity (RiPA) project will promote home gardening through perma-gardening and or home gardening to help households sustainably produce vegetables year-round—or for several additional months beyond the rainy season, even without irrigation—using practices that improve soil fertility, conserve water, and produce nutritious crops in both rainy and dry seasons.

Project objectives 

The purpose of Resilience in Pastoral Areas Activity (RiPA) Activity is to enhance food security and inclusive economic growth for over 129,129 households. The project has four core components and eleven expected outcomes as well as cross cutting themes such as gender and women’s decision-making, social cohesion, and natural resource management, as well as foundational frameworks like resilience, and market systems development: –

  1. Improved Disaster Risk Management Systems and Capacity.  Scaling DRM Activities within government at zonal, woreda, kebele and community level; working with government partners and existing DRM practices, principally focusing on woreda risk profiles and contingency plans and funds.
  2. Diversified and Sustainable Economic Opportunities for People Transitioning out of Pastoralism (ToPs) particularly youth and women.   Strengthening coordination of labour market information system sharing in the pastoral areas among job creation and enterprise development, the Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs and TVETs at regional and zonal and zonal level.
  3. Intensified and Sustained Pastoral and Agro-Pastoral Production and Marketing.  Scaling intensified and sustained pastoral and agro-pastoral production and marketing activities at different levels within the government structure.
  4. Improved and Sustained Nutrition and Hygiene Practices.   Working closely with the Ministry of Health (MoH) to have an active coordination platform for all nutrition development actors, mapping and harmonizing all existing Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition training SBCC tool kits into one to be used by different actors; using the coordination platform to develop one centralized repository for nutrition data and research material for all partners to access; and mapping partner presence in different woredas to ensure strategic coverage by partners.

Within these objectives is an intent to help as many project households as possible develop and manage improved gardens producing nutritious foods for home consumption and local sales. Consuming nutrient-rich vegetables is important for all food insecure households, but particularly those with pregnant and lactating women and young children.

  1. Assignment description

The Resilience in Pastoral Areas Activity (RiPA) Activity is looking for short-term technical assistance by a skilled and qualified professional to train staff and guide initial field implementation of improved approaches to gardening, i.e. perma-garden and keyhole gardening. The perma garden specialist is expected to complete the assignment by traveling to Resilience in Pastoral Areas Activity (RiPA) field sites in Afar, Jijiga and Oromia region and the assignment is for 6 months.

  1. Responsibilities and Deliverables

The perma-garden specialist will work in all Resilience in Pastoral Areas Activity (RiPA) operational areas to build capacity of relevant staff, lead creation of model gardens, and guide uptake by additional project households. A rough schedule of activities is as follows:

●        October 2021 to April 2022:  Reconnection training, field site-monitoring, evaluation, provide field level technical training, support, and follow up engagement of households in homestead gardening.

●       October  2021 to April 2022:  Provide Terra Firma Keyhole and Perma-garden practical and demonstration training for agriculture extension worker supervisors, health extension workers, team leaders, nutrition experts, community facilitators and households in three regions of  project implementing areas; Afar, Oromia and Somali Regions.

●       November 2021 to April 2022:  Provide home-garden adoption and scaling up approaches at community level including water management and planting dry season crops

●       November 2021 to April 2022:  Facilitate follow-up training sessions with field teams and model gardeners on harvest and replanting for dry season gardens.


  1. Detailed assignment

●       Provide Terra Firma Keyhole and Perma-garden practical and demonstration training for agriculture extension worker supervisors, health extension workers, Teachers and school club leaders, team leaders, nutrition experts, community facilitators and household in three regions of project implementing areas

●       Maintaining their garden beds and swales to catch the pop up showers.

●       Confirming the proper placement of the holes and berms that will maximize water capture.

●       Learning how to harvest new vegetables in a ‘piecemeal manner for daily consumption.

●       General maintenance of the water controlling berms, swales and holes after rain events

●       Guidance on better double digging for those who have only shaped beds and pathways

●       How to continue with the replanting process during the dry season.

●       Provide home-garden adoption and scaling up approaches at community level including water management and planting dry season crops

●       Bring crop diversity and rotation into the conversation through the introduction of Orange Flesh Sweet Potato (OFSP) and iron-rich beans and other nutrient-dense leaf, fruit, root and legume.

●       Bio-rational pest control as a 4th step within the Terra Firma Pest Control Framework: cultural, physical, biological, chemical (bio-rational).

●       Review and practice Compost making and use. Compost tea from kitchen waste.

●       How to properly transplant seedlings at 6 weeks with proper spacing.

●       The critical role of initial garden design and ongoing maintenance:  cleaning paths, holes, smoothing beds, filling in the gaps within the beds to ensure canopy closure.

●       How to use local beans as ‘gap filler’ and soil feeder when harvesting other crops.

●       The important role that Crop Rotation plays in breaking pest and disease life cycles and in maintaining/building soil fertility (leaf, fruit, root, legume)

●       Proper harvesting techniques for nutrition targeting. Namely, piecemeal harvesting 10-15 leaves at a time, not the whole plant. Poor quality leaves chopped and returned to bed soil if not given to livestock.

●       Provide reconnection trainings across all three regions to families to engaged properly for the coming short rains

●       Creating the Terra Firma Keyhole for small spaces. He/she will teach RIPA team and DA on how to properly locate and create a keyhole using just 1m* 2m of space and turning it into 2m3 of water-controlling, high-yielding, productive household assets.

●       Follow up the household already adopted the homestead gardening i.e. clearing the holes and paths and smoothing the beds on a regular basis.

●       Field site-monitoring, evaluation and provide field level technical support and follow up and scaling up engagement of household ion homestead gardening.

●       Provide field level technical training in liquid fertilizer compost preparation and permanent fence making by using perennial plants.

●       Provide training on Biological pest control mechanism from available plant products

●       Discuss with MC and CARE field office experts on area of improvements and recommendation in perma-garden and Keyhole gardens scaling up

●       Closely working with MC-Afar, Oromia and Somali team in monitoring, technical support and scaling up perms-garden because the nutrition specialist is maternity leave.


Key Milestones and Indicators

The perma-garden specialist will work in close cooperation with a point person assigned in each project field office and other staff relevant to the assignment. The Nutrition (Component 4)  and MSD (Component2 )  coordinators and/or Nutrition and MSD Specialists in each operational area will supply oversight and performance monitoring. The Specialist will work closely with the field level nutrition coordinators. Depending on performance and project need, the assignment may be extended beyond the current term.

●       Number of key staff, agriculture extension workers & their supervisors, health extension workers, Teachers and school club leaders, team leaders, nutrition experts, community facilitators and households from the three regions trained on Keyhole and Perma-gardening techniques.

●       Number of demonstrations conducted on Keyhole and Perma-garden for all trained personnel

●       Number of Follow up and technical support provided to ensure the adoption and scaling up of perma- gardening  at community level

●       Households adopting keyhole and perma-gardening activities and improved their dietary diversity

Job Requirements

Qualifications / Technical skills

●       Specialist in agronomy and/or horticulture diploma or degree

●       Knowledge of nutrition and Nutrition sensitive Agriculture

●       Skilled in providing training on improved gardening for betterment of nutrition outcomes


●       More than two years’ experience promoting the perma-garden approach in Ethiopia

●       Fluent in Amharic and English, proficiency in other local languages (Afaan Oromo, Afari and Somali languages) is beneficial

●       Self-driven individual who able to work with diversified teams

How to Apply

Application process:

Please send the required documents by  et-tender-questions@mercycorps.org  OR

In person to Mercy corps office located Yeka Sub-City, Kebele 08, House No. 377; Hayahulet, AFRO BUILDING Tel. 011-1-110777  till 30th September 2021 5:00 PM