Call for Applications: Technical Research Paper on Climate Change Communication in Humanitarian Contexts

The impacts of climate change continue to take the lives of people and affect the livelihoods of communities. In the past decade alone more than 410,000 people have lost their lives and 1.7 billion people have been affected by climate and weather-related disasters (World Disaster Report 2020). Furthermore, the impacts are disproportionately affecting lower- and middle-income countries and vulnerable/marginalized communities within those countries, primarily due to their lower coping capacity. Among other factors, economic inequality and rapid, unplanned urbanizations influence who is most at risk. Eight of the top 10 countries affected by the quantified impacts of weather events in 2019 were low to lower income (Global Climate Risk Index 2021).

According to the 2020 World Disaster Report, the number and frequency of climate and weather-related disasters such as cyclones, floods, droughts, fires, and heat waves will continue to increase. Such events can exacerbate existing crises and result in direct humanitarian impacts such as displacement, food insecurity, loss of livelihood, damage to property, injury, loss of life, lower water quality, and deteriorating health. Food insecurity is particularly concerning with more than 245 million people (2022) facing acute food insecurity, an issue that is greatly exacerbated by climate change because of diminishing water supplies, an increase in pests and diseases, and augmented crop loss due to environmental hazard (World Bank 2022).

In this context, both the IFRC (2020) and ALNAP (2021) emphasize the importance of timely, understandable, and actionable information transmission about the threats of climate change in humanitarian settings. This resonates with Internews’s Rooted in Trust (RiT) methodology which poses that vulnerable communities in humanitarian settings need access to contextualized, actionable, and straightforward information as they adapt to the impacts associated with climate change. Therefore, a strengthened information ecosystem – consisting of diverse sources beyond traditional media – is paramount to an effective humanitarian climate change response by promoting communities’ resilience as they adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.

Threats to effective communication and information related to climate change impacts include an increased prevalence of polarized and politicized information and information actors. This typically coincides with high levels of misinformation and disinformation. Climate science research (and consequently, the basis for climate change communication) typically comes from Western institutions. Alongside this, the lack of understanding of people-centered, locally held information ecosystems can cause information actors to dismiss local (including indigenous) expertise related to climate change communication and adaptation. This failure to combine local perspectives and expertise with global scientific knowledge also contributes to polarization and alienation of people within an information ecosystem.

To date, RiT initiatives and research have focused largely on improving information ecosystems related to health crises in humanitarian contexts. In this research, we plan to investigate the hypothesis that information ecosystem and social listening approaches that have been proven as effective in tackling health misinformation (such as in RiT) can also be directed at misinformation and disinformation in other contexts. We believe this research can be a strategic opportunity to explore the role that social listening and an information ecosystem approach can play in relation to early warnings, responses and adaptations to the impact of climate crises in humanitarian contexts. We consider that it would be important to carry out research in 3-4 selected RiT countries to get an insight into specific uses.


What information needs and risks result from the impacts of climate change for vulnerable populations in humanitarian contexts? How do people make decisions about the issues they face (caused by climate change)? Particularly in relation to:

  1. Climate-induced migration
  2. Climate-induced food insecurity
  3. Adaptation of livelihoods and ways of life in response to climate change (climate change adaptation)

Note: This does not aim to present an information needs assessment but acts an overarching understanding of key categories of information needs related to the impacts of climate change, and climate change adaptation.

  • Who are the main actors who have the potential to influence information access and misinformation for communities affected by the impacts of climate change?
  • How do information gaps, misinformation, and disinformation influence vulnerable communities’ risk perceptions in the context of a changing climate in humanitarian settings?
  • How do people link their realities and knowledge systems with global/national scientific debates and longer-term trends, and how are these applied to mitigation efforts?
  • Find 3-4 fundamental strategies employed in Rooted in Trust that could be applicable for tackling mis- and disinformation, enhancing information ecosystems, and guiding humanitarian response and programs in the realm of climate change adaptation with marginalized communities. Key core practices include models for local information strategies that ensure local knowledge and expertise can contribute climate change early warning, response and adaptation.

A researcher or a research firm will be contracted to conduct this study. While Internews is open to ideas about the best-fit research methodology, the overall approach to this research will be a qualitative design, and the research will be conducted in 2-3 RiT countries (which are yet to be defined, in part based on Researcher capacity in-country). Researchers will need to use existing qualitative data already collected through RiT, for example to identify information gaps and misinformation among vulnerable communities in relation to climate change; and they are also expected to collect new qualitative data where needed through suitable data collection methods. This may include focus group discussions and/or key informant interviews with representatives of local communities. Moreover, the researcher will conduct a desk review of existing literature, such as reports produced by RiT, to explore existing local information strategies that might be adaptable for climate change communication. The researcher – an individual or an organization – is expected to propose an appropriate research design and sampling framework in order to address the research questions and components outlined above.


April – July 31, 2023

DeliverableApproximate due dateComments
(0) Launch of ToREarly AprilThe consultant is expected to have initial meetings with relevant Internews teams in order to inform inception report.
(1) Inception ReportEarly MayThe inception report will include:  Desk review Draft methodology Data collection tools List of interviewees and key questions  Internews has an opportunity to comment and feedback on inception report.
(2) Fieldwork: desk review, Qualitative data collection and analysisCompleted by mid-JuneAccording to revised inception report
(3) Report writing and presentation of first draft of reportEarly JulyInternews to have an opportunity to comment and feedback on draft report
(4) Final ReportJuly 31The consultant is expected to revise the draft report based on feedback from Internews and submit the final report.
(5) Presentation of the findingsTBDThe consultant is expected to present the findings to Internews in one briefing

The final deliverable of this research will be a high quality, publishable report presented in English and be no longer than 20-30 pages (excluding any relevant annexes). The report must include: 

  1. An executive summary highlighting the main findings, conclusions and recommendations 
  2. An introduction including a review of the existing literature 
  3. A methodology section including description of research objectives, research questions, research methods, and limitations 
  4. Presentations of results
  5. Discussion of key findings  
  6. Conclusions and recommendations, being specific and action-oriented 

60,000 USD. We invite applications from vendors that could deliver the above objectives within this budget limit only, while providing value for money. The budget should be inclusive of all costs related to this activity.  


Applicants must be registered as a legal company. Proposal should include a copy of registration certificate and tax number. We are looking for a consultant team comprising those who are independent of Internews, its implementing partners and USAID-BHA, i.e., not an employee. The successful applicant will have one or more members who meet the following criteria: 


  • Substantial experience in conducting research in the context of humanitarian programmes, media, and advocacy. 
  • Experience in undertaking research using quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including methodologies
  • Experience working in an international development context
  • Ability to systematically analyze and present complex data and information.  
  • Excellent communication and facilitation skills  
  • Excellent written and spoken English. 
  • Should have knowledge and skills to translate data from Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and French 
  • Ability and commitment to deliver the expected results within the agreed period. 
  • Able to travel to 2-3 countries within the available project locations: Brazil, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, Madagascar, Sudan, Haiti, Yemen, South Sudan, Zimbabwe.


  • Good understanding of contexts impacted by climate change, and/or information ecosystem and misinformation and disinformation programmes.

If you would like to submit an Expression of Interest in response to this consultancy opportunity, please submit the following to [email protected].  by 17:00 EST on April 30th  2023. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

  • A maximum two-page cover letter outlining your interest in this consultancy and your qualifications against the essential and desirable criteria, combined with a maximum four-page proposed methodology and approach for the consultancy. 
  • A detailed budget presented in US$ (the available research budget is $60,000), and an approximate timeline, clearly highlighting the number of days and daily fee, as well as itemizing other costs (including international and domestic travel, communications, and any costs incurred in the evaluation) necessary in order to fulfil this consultancy.  
  • CVs of all proposed team members 
  • Two examples of reports of previous research, comparable to that the consultants have led on (or links to report available online)  
  • The names and contact details of two references.  

For submissions and questions, contact Emily Cowlrick, Humanitarian Programs Manager – [email protected].