Funding Opportunity : Countering Wildlife Trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa

Public Notice

Federal Agency Name:         U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)

Announcement Title:            Countering Wildlife Trafficking in Sub-Saharan Africa

Announcement Type:           Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI)

Funding Opportunity Number:   SFOP0007433

CFDA Number:  19.705 – Transnational Crime

Deadline for Applications: Complete SOIs must be submitted via grants.gov by 11:59 pm EST on January 6, 2021.

Link to View Grant Opportunity: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=329998

PLEASE NOTE:  INL strongly urges applicants to access www.grants.gov immediately in order to obtain a username and password.  It may take several weeks to register with www.grants.gov as organizations are required to have a DUNS number and register with the System for Award Management (SAM) before setting up an account with www.grants.gov.  Please see the section entitled, “DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS” below for specific instructions.

APPLICANT ELIGIBILITY

Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a registered U.S. non-profit organization meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3). Applicants in the process of registration must submit proof that they are seeking non-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service at the time of proposal submission.  Should the applicant be selected for a cooperative agreement award, funding will be contingent upon 501(c)(3) status; or
  • Be a U.S. university or research institution meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c) (3); or
  • Be a local in-country non-profit organization based in Africa that can demonstrate current country registration, competent programmatic ability, and meet reporting requirements; or
  • Be an international non-governmental organization that can demonstrate target country buy-in, competent programmatic ability, and meet reporting requirements.

AND

  • Have demonstrated experience administering similar successful projects, preferably targeting the requested country and/or region, or similarly challenging program environment.  INL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal assistance awards.
  • Have demonstrated experience implementing projects of similar dollar amount as the one being announced or demonstrate high potential to do so;
  • Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with organization(s) in the target country and/or region, in order to successfully fulfill the proposed program;
  • Be a registered user of grants.gov;
  • Be able to provide INL with a Unique Entity Identifier — per the OMB policy directive published in the Federal Register on June 27, 2003, which requires all organizations applying for Federal grants and cooperative agreements to provide the issuing agency a UEI number; and
  • Be registered with the– System for Award Management (SAM) SAM.gov and be able to maintain updated registration annually and during the period of performance.  Organizations must have a Unique Entity Identifier number and a CAGE/NCAGE number in order to complete the registry process.  International organizations can obtain assistance for this process using the following link:
    REGISTRATION and UPDATING PROCEDURES FOR COMMERCIAL AND GOVERNMENT ENTITY (CAGE) CODE or NATO CAGE (NCAGE) https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/Docs/US%20Instructions%20for%20NSPA%20NCAGE.pdf
  • Applicants must be able to respond to the NOFO (once provided) and be able to mobilize in a short period.

NOTE:  Organizations may form consortia and submit a combined proposal.  However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant and other organizations designated as sub-recipients.  The lead applicant must meet the qualification criteria listed above.  Public International Organizations (PIOs) and For-Profit Organizations are excluded from applying to this grant announcement.

I. SUMMARY

Introduction

The mission of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is to minimize the impact of international crime and illegal drugs on the United States, its citizens, and partner nations by providing effective foreign assistance and fostering global cooperation. This mission, which centers on helping our partner nations establish a capable and accountable criminal justice sector, was expanded during the past decade to include stabilizing post-conflict societies through criminal justice sector development and reform. This mission supports peace and security by stabilizing and strengthening security institutions and by combating narco-trafficking and other transnational crimes such as money laundering and criminal gangs. It promotes just and democratic governments by strengthening justice sector institutions, good governance and respect for human rights.

INL combines forces with other U.S. Government (USG) and international agencies and takes a regional approach to widespread problems. INL also encourages more developed governments to take responsibility as equal partners in global efforts to combat transnational crime, including drug trafficking. The Bureau’s priority programs support three inter-related objectives:

  • BUILDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEMS: Institutionalize rule of law by developing and expanding criminal justice systems to strengthen partner country law enforcement and judicial effectiveness, foster cooperation in legal affairs, and advance respect for human rights;
  • COUNTER-NARCOTICS: Disrupt the overseas production and trafficking of illicit drugs through targeted counter-narcotics and institution-building assistance and coordination with foreign nations and international organizations, and;
  • TRANSNATIONAL CRIME: Minimize the impact of transnational crime and criminal networks on the United States and its allies through enhanced international cooperation and foreign assistance.

Background

 Wildlife trafficking and natural resource crimes  are lucrative forms of transnational organized crime (TOC) that have decimated populations of species, such as elephants, rhinos, pangolins, and more. Wildlife trafficking and natural resource  crimes fuel corruption, threaten the rule of law and peace and security, spread disease, and destabilize communities that depend on wildlife for biodiversity and eco-tourism revenues. Criminal organizations are increasingly involved in this illicit trade, especially the illegal movement of wildlife from source countries to demand countries, such as the movement of ivory from Africa to Asia. Traffickers exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from trading in illegal wildlife. Wildlife and wildlife products are transported through multilevel illicit networks of criminal intermediaries and government officials.

In 2013, the U.S. government established an interagency task force to address the problem of wildlife trafficking by identifying priority areas for interagency cooperation and action. The National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking was released in 2014, which led to the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy. The Plan focuses on strengthening law enforcement, reducing demand for trafficked wildlife and wildlife goods, and building international cooperation to combat wildlife trafficking (CWT). In 2016, Congress passed the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act, which enshrines the role of the Task Force and its National Strategy and Implementation Plan. These commitments are reflected in the greatly increased amount of resources – human, technical, and financial – that we are devoting to target the problem of wildlife trafficking.

To advance the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and its associated implementation plan, INL aims to achieve specific objectives to reduce the poaching and trafficking of wildlife through effective programming at the national, regional, and international levels in key source, transit, and destination locations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. INL aims to support host-nation investigatory and prosecutorial capacity in relation to wildlife crime to disrupt the higher level syndicates involved in wildlife trafficking.

INL leverages its unique foreign assistance authorities to contribute to the global fight against wildlife trafficking. Funds will support work that builds investigative and enforcement capacity and materials in Africa and Asia to combat wildlife crime.

Purpose

 The Department of Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs announces an open competition for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 projects to combat wildlife trafficking and illegal logging in Sub-Saharan Africa. Informed by the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and its associated implementation plan, and in consultation with other offices in the U.S. government, INL has identified four priority objectives for funding in Sub-Saharan Africa. These programming priorities are listed below under the FY 2020 Programming Objectives section starting on Page 5.

INL will allocate funding through an open, two-stage competitive process. In the first stage of competition, U.S.-based and foreign non-profits, non-governmental organizations, and institutes of higher education are invited to submit two page statements of interest (SOI) and one page budget summaries for projects designed to address the programming objectives highlighted in the funding opportunity. Upon completion of a technical and programmatic review, INL will select a limited number of SOIs for further consideration. In the second stage of competition, INL will invite those selected applicants to submit full proposals that build on the concepts described in their three-page SOIs.

SOIs will be considered for all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan); however INL encourages applicants to propose innovative concepts to combat wildlife trafficking and to target countries where transnational wildlife trafficking is a significant issue and where there is political will to address it through central government institutions and agencies, and with regional neighbors. In addition to wildlife, proposals may also focus on addressing the illegal trade of protected species of plants, with prioritization given to high-value endangered wood species with a nexus to transnational organized crime.  Applicants have broad flexibility within this opportunity, but proposals must demonstrate how the proposed program will build the capacity of the target country or countries to address wildlife trafficking, and offer the potential to have a systemic and sustainable impact. INL will consider funding landscape-based programming as long as the nexus to transnational organized crime is sufficiently addressed.  INL does not fund conservation-related programs or programs that do not have a strong linkage to transnational crime.

INL intends to allocate approximately $15 million for this opportunity, and plans to issue awards with a start date of October 1, 2021.  Applicants may submit applications for no less than $500,000 and no more than $1.5 million. The typical project lifecycle for an INL grant or cooperative agreement is approximately 24 months in length. Applicants may submit more than one application, but note INL will prioritize funding for applications that address the greatest need.  All applications selected for funding will be awarded pending the availability of appropriated funds.

INL recommends that applicants develop and propose their own activities considering the project goal and objectives listed below:

PROJECT GOAL

 To reduce the ability of criminal groups to carry out and profit from poaching and trafficking of protected animals and their body parts, as well as protected timber, plants and lumber, originating from or transiting Africa.

 II. PROJECT OBJECTIVES

 Objective 1: Increase the capacity of law enforcement to detect, interdict, seize, and transfer to investigatory agencies, illegal wildlife products through raising awareness, training, and equipment.

Activities within this objective should focus on improving interdiction efforts in ports, airports, and other border checkpoints that are identified chokepoints for trafficking wildlife.  Activities can include training and assistance to a wide range of actors such as customs officers, border officials, airport and port authorities, and law enforcement, as well as coordination with shipping and air transit industries. Applicants are encouraged to propose innovative solutions within the scope of the objective; however activities should be specific and appropriate to the country context.

Objective 2: Improve national and regional wildlife law enforcement capacity to prevent, detect, and investigate wildlife crime through specialized training and equipment.

Activities within this objective may include all levels of enforcement— from ranger training and assistance aimed at preventing and deterring poaching in significant source areas for high-value wildlife products, to improving investigations following seizures and other evidence of wildlife trafficking in target countries.  Improving investigations can include a range of tools such as expanding intelligence-based enforcement operations, enhancing analysis capacity to track money laundering and financial crimes, and strengthening skills to effectively use electronic and digital evidence in investigations, such as mobile device forensics. Applicants are encouraged to propose innovative solutions within the scope of the objective, but activities should be specific and appropriate to the country context. Applicants may also propose regional enforcement interventions – such as improving coordination and sharing information between several countries that may serve as source/transit/destination points for illicit wildlife products.

Objective 3: Improve national and regional capabilities to prosecute and adjudicate cases against wildlife crimes and related offenses with appropriate sentencing structures.

 Activities within this objective should focus on providing assistance that strengthen case management, enhance prosecutorial skills, improve chain of custody, and sensitize judges to the detrimental economic, security, economic, and public health effects of wildlife trafficking in countries where prosecutions for wildlife trafficking cases are weak or non-existent.  Under this objective applicants may also propose work that seeks to improve the host countries’ laws that will make enforcement of wildlife trafficking more effective.  Applicants are encouraged to propose innovative solutions within the scope of the objective, but activities should be specific and appropriate to the country context. Where appropriate, interventions should consider utilizing technology to streamline operations, improve transparency, and expand reach.  Applicants may also propose regional cooperation mechanisms on the prosecution of wildlife crimes – such as improving coordination and sharing information between several countries that may serve as source/transit/destination points for illicit wildlife products.

Objective 4: Strengthen anti-corruption efforts within relevant agencies to enhance government response, improve government accountability, and strengthen transparency as it relates to wildlife crime.

Activities within this objective should focus on supporting institutional change that reduces vulnerability to corruption and increases accountability and transparency within government institutions responsible for interdicting, investigating, or prosecuting wildlife trafficking cases.  This includes customs agencies, wildlife authorities, and other enforcement and justice sector entities.  Applicants are encouraged to propose innovative solutions within the scope of the objective, but activities should be specific and appropriate to the country context.

TARGET POPULATION

 Applicants should identify target audiences, specific demographics, and the sub-region(s) within Africa in which the project will be implemented.  It is particularly important to specify the approximate number of beneficiaries to be directly and indirectly impacted by project activities.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATION

While INL will consider all SOIs that address at least one of the objectives described in Section II, proposals are especially welcomed that address the following concerns:

  • Improving customs and interdiction capacity in Nigeria, Ghana, and other parts of West Africa
  • Strengthening law enforcement and prosecutorial capacity in the TRIDOM area of Central Africa, with specific interest in southeast Cameroon
  • Strengthening capacity across landscapes that have been severely impacted by COVID-19, either through decreased tourism revenue used for law enforcement efforts or increased poaching and transnational crime
  • Activities that encourage public sector cooperation with the private sector to encourage law enforcement to adopt new technologies in their efforts to disrupt illegal activities.
  • Activities that support in-country and cross-border information sharing and coordination with law enforcement, either within Africa or other regions, with particular interest in West Africa
  • Anti-corruption activities in countries listed as countries of concern in the END Wildlife Trafficking Act 2020 Report to Congress. These countries include Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Nigeria.
  • Activities that support increased understanding and interagency cooperation on wildlife crimes and its connection to other illegal goods trafficked in East and Southern Africa.
  • Activities that build and promote intelligence analysis and criminal analysis into wildlife investigations, to increase capacity among Sub-Saharan Africa law enforcement to better identify patterns, trends and linkages among offenders and criminal networks.
  • Activities that use information-sharing technologies to link countries with relatively strong national task forces for CWT with nearby countries with weaker or no national task forces in place. When appropriate, work through the relevant Regional Economic Communities to strengthen existing efforts for national task forces to work together to tackle this transboundary challenge.

Applicants should not propose the following activities:

  • Activities focusing on promoting the economy to improve employment opportunities for populations living near or within protected areas or wildlife conservation zones, such as livelihood sustainability or micro-loans;
  • Requests for equipment only;
  • Activities solely or principally focused on convening conferences or coordination events;
  • Stand-alone public awareness campaigns and/or public awareness events;
  • Activities that duplicate or supplant the efforts of local, state or federal authorities.
  • Funding for salaries or equipment for Government officials; Activities to lobby for specific legislation or programs;
  • Study tours, individual scholarships, or exchange projects;
  • Fundraising campaigns; or
  • Projects that substantially duplicate efforts underway and planned to continue, undertaken by other organizations including through the support of other donors;
  • Projects that do not have a focus on combatting transnational organized crime.

Applicants may propose their own countries or sub regions to work in, keeping in mind INL generally prioritizes foreign assistance in countries where governments demonstrate political will, but lack the financial resources or specialized expertise to effectively address the problem. Applicants may propose to work in one or more countries, but when selecting countries applicants should consider the work of other implementers and other anti-wildlife trafficking funding that is currently ongoing.  INL will not consider proposals that plan to work in Ethiopia, Sudan, or South Sudan. Proposals should consider the current operating environment in Sub-Saharan Africa given the ongoing COVID-19 health pandemic, and propose contingencies and flexibilities as necessary.

III. TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SOI SUBMISSIONS

Complete submissions should include the following:

  1. Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424a and SF424b, as directed on grants.gov. (Three forms total)
  2. Donor History Form (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes: A list of previous and/or current U.S. federal assistance awards received. Please include the awarding agency, point of contact, name of the project, start and end dates, and amount of the award. Applicants that have not received previous U.S. federal assistance should instead list current or past projects supported by other donors.
  3. Statement of Interest (not to exceed two [2] pages in Microsoft Word) that includes:
    • Name of organization
    • Contact information (headquarters and in-country)
    • Point of contact, titles
    • Project title
    • Countries/regions targeted by project- Number and description of direct beneficiaries
    • Proposed period of activity
    • Project overview – describe the problem, proposed intervention, expected results and intended impact.
  4. Summary Budget (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes the title and duration of the project, and the following approximate values:
    • Personnel
    • Fringe Benefits
    • Travel
    • Equipment
    • Supplies
    • Contractual
    • Other
    • Total direct charges (sum a – h)
    • Indirect Charges
    • Total

Award Ceiling: $1,500,000.00

 Award Floor:  $500,000

 Cost Sharing Requirement:                 Not required

 The budget summary total should not exceed Award ceiling amount of $1.5 million

 Submissions that do not meet the requirements of the announcement may not be considered and deemed technically ineligible.

For all application documents, please ensure:

  • All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper, and
  • All Microsoft Word documents are double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.
  • All documents are in English

 III. REVIEW PROCESS

INL will review all SOIs for eligibility. Eligible SOIs will be subject to compliance of Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements.

Organizations may be recommended to submit a full proposal based on an evaluation of how the SOI best meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the priority needs of INL.  The anticipated notification date is within five weeks of the closing date of this announcement. 

A State Department Review Committee will evaluate SOIs submitted under this request.  Regional Bureaus and Embassies within the Department of State will be asked to review and provide feedback on the SOIs.

SOIs will be evaluated based on the review criteria listed below: 

  • Originality, substance, precision of the SOI
  • Responsiveness to INL’s stated goals and objectives.
  • Priorities of relevant U.S. Embassies
  • Objectives and sub-objectives that are ambitious, yet measurable and achievable.
  • Institutional record in implementing successful programs.

Second-stage applicants will be subject to an INL risk assessment that may include a pre-award site visit. The assessment may consider a variety of risk factors, including (1) Financial stability of the applicant; (2) Quality of management systems and ability to meet prescribed management standards; (3) Past performance in managing previous federal awards, if applicable, including compliance with reporting requirements, conformance to the award’s terms and conditions, and the extent to which previously awarded amounts will be expended prior to future awards; (4) Reports and findings from available audits; and (5) Applicant ability to effectively implement statutory, regulatory, or other requirements applicable to non-Federal entities.

Any funds awarded under this funding opportunity will be provided through a grant or cooperative agreement. A cooperative agreement provides for substantial involvement between the agency — in this case INL — and the recipient during the award’s period of performance. Examples of substantial involvement by INL may include, but are not limited to, reviewing and approving project materials, training curricula, and evaluation plans produced by sub-recipients.

DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

 Applicants must submit SOIs using www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on(include date 30 days from posting) .  INL will require SOI applications to be submitted via www.grants.gov.

Please note:  In order to safeguard the security of applicants’ electronic information, www.grants.gov utilizes a credential provider.  It is the process of determining, with certainty, that someone really is who they claim to be.

The credential provider for www.grants.gov is Operational Research Consultants (ORC). Applicants MUST register with ORC to receive a username and password which you will need to register with www.grants.gov as an authorized organization representative (AOR).  Once your organization’s E-Business point of contact has assigned these rights, you will be authorized to submit grant applications through Grants.gov on behalf of your organization.

Each organization will need to be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) and you will need to have your organization’s Unique Entity Identifier and the CAGE/NCAGE number available to complete this process.  After your organization registers with the SAM.gov, you must wait approximately 3-5 business days before you can obtain a username and password.  This may delay your ability to post your proposal.  Therefore, INL strongly urges applicants to begin this process on www.grants.gov well in advance of the submission deadline.

No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps to post applications on www.grants.gov.

VII. IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO APPLICANTS

The information contained in this solicitation is binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative.  Explanatory information provided by the Bureau that contradicts this language will not be binding.  Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government, nor does it commit the Government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements.

Once the Request for Statements of Interest deadline has passed, U.S. Government officials – including those in the Bureau, the Department and at embassies/missions overseas – must not discuss this solicitation with applicants until the entire review process is completed.  Applicants will be notified by the INL Grants Office only with regard to the status of an application.  Funding commitments can only be made by an INL Grants Officer.  All other commitments from any representative other than an INL Grants Officer will be deemed unauthorized.

For technical, programmatic, and/or administrative questions, please contact the Grants Officer at WashingtonND@state.gov (please also cc Wildlife@state.gov). Questions must be received, in writing, no later than December 30, 2020 by 5pm EST.  (Please Note:  All and administrative questions received and their responses shall be posted via www.grants.gov.)

This document is for informational purposes only and does not represent a request for proposal, an award, or a commitment of funds.

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