REGIONAL FOOD SECURITY RESPONSE DIRECTOR – Africa
*(4 month role)
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions
into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.
East Africa is currently seeing several shocks converging that are threatening the food security of millions of agropastoral and pastoral households, particularly in the Horn of Africa: Covid-19; the worst outbreak of desert locusts in 70 years; Rift Valley Fever (RVF); and in some places devastating floods. In Somalia, South Sudan and other pockets across the region these shocks are occurring against the backdrop of persistent conflict. Mercy Corps has a strong footprint within the affected geographies, with a programmatic platform that ensures deep presence, capacity and relationships to quickly pivot to response as the crisis unfolds. As Mercy Corps continues to monitor the impact of these shocks on household food security and markets, there is an urgent need to organize a strategic response and prepare Mercy Corps’ field teams to address the crisis. Mercy Corps is positioned to be a key actor in bringing a timely, data-driven and market sensitive response to bolster household food security and protect livelihoods through this crisis, and quickly pivot to recovery and resilience-building for vulnerable households and affected market systems. Mercy Corps’ response strategy will place a premium on positioning our technical, partnership and capacity building approaches within a longer-term vision for strengthening regional food systems and deepening our positioning for strategic regional responses to future crises that go beyond country borders.
General Position Summary
The Regional Food Security Response Director works closely with country programs in affected countries (currently Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan) and with technical teams to establish the vision for and drive Mercy Corps’ strategic response to the converging shocks in the region. This position articulates, coordinates and oversees a process for developing high quality, impactful response approaches at the country and regional level, and is responsible for securing new programming with the necessary management and support structures to sustain response capacity over time. The role will provide strategic guidance to country leaders for implementing response plans, and will partner with country teams to deliver high-quality, market-driven response interventions that align to the regional response vision. The Director will oversee development, and enhance uptake of, an analytical dashboard and associated regular context analyses to continually improve our response approach. The role also includes ensuring appropriate systems and support mechanisms are in place to enhance regional ways of working, elevate team capacity strengthening as a critical priority, and engage with senior management on the strategic direction of the overall response and furthering the Africa Regional Strategy.
Essential Job Responsibilities
Strategy & Vision
● Set a clear vision for the response and the associated structure to enable an effective regional-level response, working closely with field leadership
● Design and oversee a process for developing regional and country level response plans, ensuring they fit within country and regional strategies and reflect Mercy Corps’ signature technical approaches, including market systems development, resilience in protracted crises, advancing peace in complex crises
● Set direction by prioritizing and organizing actions & resources to achieve objectives
● Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcomed.
Program Design and Proposal Development
● Coordinate with regional and HQ resource development teams to strategically identify and prioritize fundraising opportunities
● Lead the development of high-quality concept notes and proposals to fund regional and country level response programming, and work with country teams to develop concept notes that align with regional response priorities
● Provide strategic guidance to country level programs and leaders for the implementation of response plans, and help identify and coordinate necessary technical support for implementation
● Oversee the development and support uptake of the Regional Scanning the Horizon Food Security Dashboard, working closely with the Technology for Development team, including ensuring production of bi-weekly analysis / situation updates
● Design and oversee a process for strategically allocating the Regional Response Innovation Fund, provide strategic guidance to selected interventions, and ensure mechanisms to track results and leverage learning
● Oversee regional-scale program startup and ongoing program management and administration of teams across various field locations.
● Ensure that regional-scale program implementation is responsive to communities and partners, and consistent with Mercy Corps’ relevant program guidelines, principles, values, quality standards and strategic plan.
● Ensure that beneficiaries are effectively targeted according to established vulnerability criteria, and that feedback mechanisms are in place.
● Fulfill Mercy Corps’ Program Management Minimum Standards based on the organization-wide guide.
● Ensure program implementation is on time, target and budget, using effective M&E systems to reach desired impacts.
● Support implementation teams to ensure all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Code of Conduct; Gender, Diversity and Inclusion guiding documents; Core Humanitarian Principles and Do No Harm.
Team Management and Capacity Building
● Ensure regular coordination and communication of response priorities and actions to strengthen regional linkages across Mercy Corps country teams
● Hire, orient and supervise consultants and new team members as necessary.
● Ensure team members improve performance & reach objectives.
● Integrate strategic capacity building objectives for country team members into overall response.
● Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence, and cultivate resilience and well-being under challenging situations.
● Contribute to country team-building efforts, help team members identify problem solving options and ensure the integration of all team members into relevant decision-making processes.
Finance & Compliance Management
● Create and maintain systems ensuring effective and transparent use of financial resources for timely and informative reporting in line with donor and Mercy Corps policies and procedures.
● Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations related to emergency programming.
● Build and/or maintain operational systems that ensure proper administrative support for programs.
● Draft and/or review scope of work to hire and manage any technical consultants, including review for technical efficacy and contract budget.
Influence & Representation
● Identify and engage high potential regional technical partners and participate in strategic response forums
● Identify, build and manage collaborative partnerships with partners, donors, local governments and other stakeholders.
● Represent Mercy Corps programs with national and international media and participate in community activities as appropriate.
● Demonstrate flexibility, resilience and ability to maintain positive relationships and composure.
● Maintain high ethical standards and treat people with respect and dignity.
Security and Safety
● Ensure compliance with security and safety procedures and policies as determined by organizational leadership.
● Contribute to creating a secure environment for team members.
● As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.
Accountability to partners
● Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically
to our partners and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging participant communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.
Response consultants; As the response evolves, additional supervisory responsibilities may be added.
Reports Directly To: Africa Deputy Regional Director
Works Directly With: Africa Regional Director; Country Directors/Deputies; Country Program Directors and technical team members; HQ and Regional technical teams
Knowledge and Experience
● 5-7 years of field experience leading international relief and development programs required, including demonstrable success in leading humanitarian response efforts within challenging and dynamic emergency situations;
● 3 years of senior-level leadership experience required;
● Experience working in the Horn of Africa preferred;
● Program Management Certification – PMD Pro – preferred;
● BA/BS or equivalent in international development, humanitarian affairs, agriculture, food security, economics or other relevant field; MA/S preferred.
● Excellent oral and written English skills required. Regional languages are a plus.
● Proficiency with MS Office software required (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Google Suite for remote working with teams.
● Understands Sphere and LEGS standards and ensures they are met
● Technical or managerial experience in Market Systems Development, Livestock and Agriculture Systems, Food Security/Food Systems strongly preferred.
● Knowledge of Mercy Corps Core Humanitarian Competencies (as defined in the Humanitarian Capacity Framework) preferred.
● Understands program strategy development
● Possesses basic fundraising and proposal development skills
● Possesses project management skills and can apply PM@MC minimum standards for all phases of the project cycle
● Can develop and manage budgets
● Can communicate with donors and convey information on program’s impact
● Can identify and mobilize HQ technical and functional support
● Can oversee and implement participatory processes in all response phases
● Effectively manages teams/people and applies relevant Mercy Corps’ procedures and approaches
● Supports team members through capacity building
● Advocacy skills to raise attention on overlooked crises and to influence donors and other stakeholders)
● Nurtures innovation across the team
● Drives impact by building high performing teams
● Broadens influence by role-modelling and leveraging humanitarian networks
● Sets a clear vision for the response
The successful Regional Food Security Response Director will skillfully represent programmatic priorities of the agency to donors and regional partners while providing effective leadership to the Mercy Corps program team in the transitional response environment. S/he will be capable of multi-tasking, rapid decision-making, have initiative, drive and a lot of energy, as well as high emotional intelligence, constructive mentoring skills and proven experience with capacity building. S/he will be committed to long-term program sustainability and the delivery of high-impact activities at the community level. Successful Mercy Corps team members have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability, thrive in evolving and challenging environments, and make effective written and verbal communication a priority.
Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions
The Regional Food Security Response Director position is open to Horn of Africa-based locations where Mercy Corps has existing presence. This location is secure. Housing is individual accommodation, with most locations offering unlimited freedom of movement beyond the house/office. Depending on location, staff will have good access to basic services – medical, electricity, water, etc. Travel is not anticipated. Given the emergency context, this position will occasionally require exceptional work schedules, including evenings and weekends.
Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit/TDY to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC’s policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.
Fostering a diverse and open workplace is an important part of Mercy Corps’ vision. Mercy Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer regardless of background. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment.
In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.
We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.
Equal Employment Opportunity
Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact.
We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.
Safeguarding & Ethics
Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.