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Consultancy for conducting research in the Asia region (selected from two of the following countries, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, or Thailand) on structural and individual factors that influence vulnerability to human trafficking

POSITION : Consultancy for conducting research in the Asia region (selected from two of the following countries, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, or Thailand) on structural and individual factors that influence vulnerability to human trafficking

DURATION : February 2021 to September 2021 (8 months)
REPORTS TO : Michaelle Tauson MEL Manager, USAID Asia Counter Trafficking in Persons


          Winrock International is a nonprofit organization that works with people in the United States and around the world to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity, and sustain natural resources. Winrock’s five-year Asia Counter Trafficking-in-Persons (USAID Asia CTIP) Project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development has goals to reduce trafficking in persons in Asia and to better protect rights of trafficked persons.

          The purpose of this TOR is to conduct research on the structural and individual factors, if any, that influence vulnerability to being trafficked and to identify the factors that may exacerbate or mitigate the likelihood of being trafficked. Alternatively, it is important to understand what factors influence the ability of someone to be able to escape or avoid trafficking situations and exploitation in the process of migration and employment       in high risk sectors. For example, factors such as debt, fear of returning empty handed, lack of knowledge, fear of retaliation, isolation, etc. If possible, this research should also build the evidence base around the implications of climate change and how it may influence trafficking in persons (TIP) trends and risks in both origin and destination countries and within a country.

          This research will seek to understand the personal/lived factors that increase vulnerability to TIP. It will also review the broad, structural factors, including higher-level theories of what influences trafficking – such as weak states, poverty, restrictive immigration policies, discrimination, complex migration policies that create need for third party intermediaries, and the lack of protective laws.  However, it is clear that context matters,  as these factors are not sufficient or necessary for trafficking – for example, people from countries with easy to navigate migration policies and strong protective systems can still be trafficked. Therefore, findings of the research should contribute to a  deeper understanding of the critical gaps in knowledge that relate to the contextual and individual factors of trafficking within the Asia region.



Potential Factors to Consider  
          Previous research provides examples of some of the individual and contextual factors that influence vulnerability to trafficking and may merit additional consideration. Examples include: The existence of social support systems and the ability to resist and respond to shocks  
    • Relationships with traffickers – individual and community level (Twis, 2019)
    • Flaws in return and reintegration programs (Paasche et al., 2016)
    • Particular factors that change over time (e.g. economic shocks, natural disasters, COVID 19, etc.) (Paasche et al., 2016)
    • Other, less investigated factors relating to gender – such as family relationships, having children or not, migrating with children, expectations based on birth order and gender (Palumbo 2016)
    • Perceived deprivation, or relative poverty versus absolute poverty (Mo, 2017)
    • Risk taking and decision making (Mo, 2017)

Additional factors should be considered, which may include illness in the family; government programs that provide free health care, cash transfers, and other services; indebtedness; land ownership; domestic violence; unemployment; lack of information on jobs; societal condemnation of migration; discrimination against migrants; other forms of discrimination (i.e. ethnicity, disability, sexuality); climate change; and others.



The USAID Asia CTIP Program focuses on transnational and regional challenges to combat TIP with activities intended to: strengthen learning around TIP; improve coordination and cooperation between source, transit, and destination countries; and reduce incentives for TIP through private sector engagement.

This research seeks to develop an understanding of vulnerability that moves away from victim blaming while recognizing the systemic and deeply rooted causes that exist (weak states, poverty, education levels, complex migration policies, etc), but also investigates the particulars and how certain situational and contextual factors interact, providing evidence for what makes an individual more or less vulnerable (e.g. language knowledge, sector, gender related factors, etc). Overall, trafficking should be seen as “a continuum of accumulating vulnerabilities or compounded risks” focusing on the lived experiences of potential victims and survivors (Schwarz, et al. 2019). As such, the research should include the active participation of those affected, including survivors, migrants, and returned migrants.

Action Oriented Outcomes
The outcome of this research should result in concrete recommendations for trafficking prevention, not only understanding what vulnerabilities exist, but what can be done to mitigate these vulnerabilities based on the specific country context. The outcomes should frame vulnerabilities as something that can potentially be changed, something individuals can protect themselves against, and not a static condition.

A second important outcome for the research is testable and reliable methods that can be replicated in additional contexts to uncover vulnerabilities.

A third major outcome for this research is a deeper understanding of how climate change is impacting trafficking occurrence in Asia. This research should explore the current trends in two countries from the following: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, or Thailand and how the closed borders may impact internal migrants as well as migrants currently residing outside their country of  origin.  One country should be a destination country for TIP and the other an origin country.

Research Design and Methods
The research should be carried out in two countries from the following list: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, or Thailand. Research design, including methods, will be agreed upon in consultation with the USAID Asia CTIP team. Proposals that do not include the active participation of survivors and migrants will not be selected.

USAID Asia CTIP strongly prefers research proposals that support the development of innovative tools that can be pilot tested in the future in other countries in the Asia region.





            ▪ In collaboration with Winrock’s USAID Asia CTIP team, develop a detailed research design and timeline outlining proposed methodology, research plan and timeline, capacity building plan, and final report structure;
            ▪ Identification and recruitment of local research team;
            ▪ Approval of research by local ethics committee where applicable;
            ▪ In collaboration with Winrock, develop and test data collection tools and sampling methodology;
            ▪ Carry out the capacity building in-country with local research team;
            ▪ Oversee research and conduct field visits (where possible);
            ▪ Hold bi-weekly status calls with Winrock; and
            ▪ Prepare deliverables listed below




    1. Research plan and timeline
    2. Capacity development (in-country)
    3. Draft report(s)
    4. Final written report(s)
    5. Advocacy and/or communications materials for use by Winrock (audience TBD)
    6. A research brief on findings, methods, and strong recommendations to reduce vulnerability in two specific country contexts
    7. Presentation of key findings delivered via webinar Final deliverables will be due 30 September 2021.



Payment will be made upon timely submission of satisfactory deliverables per agreed work plan and budget. The payment will be made in seven tranches according to the above-mentioned deliverables after each has been approved and accepted by Winrock’s USAID Asia CTIP team.




The Lead researcher is expected to have qualifications as provided below.
    1. Be able to demonstrate successful past performance in implementation of research in the field of migration or human trafficking
    2. Demonstrate understanding of migration and TIP in the Asia region and related national and regional policies
    3. Proven experience in participatory research methods, particularly working with vulnerable populations such as survivors of TIP
    4. Established relations with CSOs in the Asia region working on TIP and migration
    5. Ability to travel to/in the Asia region or alternative solution to conduct research in case COVID-19 restrictions are still in place




All questions and other communications regarding the terms of reference for this research should be submitted in writing to Michaelle Tauson, Written responses to questions will be made available to all applicants.

Applications must be submitted in English and may not be more than 10 pages using Times New Roman, size 12 font, single-spaced. The page limit does not include Annexes and CVs of proposed staff included as part of the application.

Incomplete or late applications will be marked as such and will be ineligible for review or award; however, Winrock reserves the right to accept and include incomplete or late applications in the review and award process when it is considered within the best interest of Winrock to do so. Applications that are submitted late or incomplete run the risk of not being considered for review.
Please submit the application package with following documents referencing ‘Vulnerability Research’
in the subject line to by January 28th 2021.

        ◦ Proposal for the study, including tentative budget and timeline. The cost should include budget for Level of Effort (LOE), travel and other related costs (not over 150,000 USD). The proposal should designate which two countries the research will target and specific survivors of TIP or migrants who will be included in participatory research.
        ◦ CV of lead researcher/s
        ◦ References
        ◦ Any other documents that may help the selection process

Contact :

ที่ปรึกษา / Consultantนักวิจัย / Researcher


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