Director East Africa Food Security (MC East Africa locations Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia)

Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda
Organization: Mercy Corps
Closing date: 31 Mar 2021

About Mercy Corps

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.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps’ programs in Africa are addressing both momentous humanitarian crises and significant development challenges that are contributing to rising food insecurity across the continent. These include a breakdown of governance and conflict, increased climate-related shocks, high rate of urbanization, and a growing youth population facing economic crisis. Against this backdrop, our nearly 250 million USD portfolio of emergency and development food and nutrition security programs across the region focuses on strengthening local systems and building resilience capacities to allow communities to better cope in crises, preserve and grow their assets and livelihoods, and ultimately transform their communities to ensure a prosperous and food secure future. Our multi-sector resilient food security approach promotes good governance and conflict resolution, facilitates market systems strengthening, and supports access to finance and economic opportunities. As part of this work, Mercy Corps looks to actively engage and partner with an ever growing and innovative African private sector to achieve greater and sustained impact.

In order for Mercy Corps to more effectively deliver and grow its portfolio of Food Security programs in the East Africa Region, we are establishing a Food Security Center of Excellence that brings together technical and thought leadership, excellence in program delivery and measurement, and the ambition to be a credible and visionary voice for innovation and impact in food security programming in East Africa. Mercy Corps requires an astute leader to guide this process, pioneering this new structure to deliver technical excellence, influence and greater impact across our diverse Africa food security portfolio. Powered by the belief that a better world is possible, Mercy Corps seeks an inspiring, creative and focused senior leader to drive our work in resilient food security to further the impact, influence, and breadth of Mercy Corps’ programs across the Horn of Africa.

General Position Summary

The purpose of this role is to provide overall leadership to Mercy Corps East Africa Food Security Center of Excellence, consisting of large-scale development food security awards, market systems programming as well as humanitarian programs addressing food crises. With direct oversight over a regional food security technical and MEL team, the role will work closely with country programs in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan and with regional and global technical teams to provide leadership to our portfolio of food security programs in the region, setting a clear vision for Mercy Corps’ food security work in the Horn of Africa, leading representation, outreach and thought leadership, and supporting delivery and growth of our portfolio of food security programming in the region. The Director will promote the use of analytics and strong M&E systems to understand the impact of Mercy Corps’ food security work, and facilitate data-driven and anticipatory action to secure food security in the face of shocks. The position will work closely with the regional team to refine systems and mechanisms to enable regional ways of working, elevate team capacity strengthening as a critical priority, and engage with senior management and Mercy Corps’ global support teams to ensure alignment of the regional food security vision with Mercy Corps’ agency technical approaches.

Essential Job Responsibilities


● Set a clear and compelling vision for Mercy Corps’ resilient food security programming that draws on Mercy Corps’ core strengths of resilience, market systems development, conflict mitigation and governance, financial inclusion and gender, and ensure that this vision is clearly communicated to regional team members, global Mercy Corps teams, donors and other stakeholders.

● Set a clear vision for the structure of the Food Security Center of Excellence to enable an effective regional-level approach to drive resilient food security outcomes, working closely with field, regional and global leadership

● Lead a process to bring together complex programs tackling food security across the Horn of Africa to enable greater collaboration and an ability to aggregate results/impact and learnings

● Collaborate with global and regional technical support teams to further best practices and thought leadership

● Lead engagement with both institutional and private donors, as well as civil society and private sector partners, to present a compelling vision for Mercy Corps’ food security work which leads to portfolio growth, harmonization of technical approaches, and that ultimately results in greater potential for impact.


● Lead a team of food security and MEL technical experts to work closely alongside our portfolio of food security programs.

● Develop the capacity of the team, deepen understanding of their roles and assist with career development.

● Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance and reach objectives.

● Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and performance reviews.

● Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.

● Hire, orient and lead team members as necessary.


● Oversee processes and systems that help advance technical excellence across our development and emergency food security programs, including through capacity strengthening, knowledge management, and communities of practice

● Ensure teams have the tools, guidance and technical support needed to implement programs with technical excellence, and measure performance

● Ensure program design and implementation reflects Mercy Corps’ most impactful and signature approaches, including in resilience, market systems, peace and governance, livestock and resilient agriculture

● Oversee and drive a process for resilient food security impact measurement, ensuring shared indicators and measurement methods. Facilitate portfolio-level reporting

● Oversee the development and implementation of a research and learning agenda

● Oversee program quality and impact by ensuring programs are based on sound design principles and utilize Mercy Corps and donor required M&E systems.

● Ensure all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Gender Policy, Do No Harm principles, and beneficiary accountability standards.


● Coordinate with regional and HQ resource development teams to strategically identify, design and develop high-quality concept notes and proposals to grow our food security portfolio in East Africa, engaging closely with country teams, regional and global technical support teams to ensure they align with country and regional strategies and reflect Mercy Corps’ signature technical approaches

● Explore, evaluate and present innovative funding opportunities that support the objectives for the center of excellence as a whole.


● Represent Mercy Corps’ food security portfolio with external parties, including donors, government stakeholders, foundations, the private sector, think tanks, multilateral institutions, etc. to elevate Mercy Corps’ thought leadership and voice on resilient food security issues.

● Anticipate needs, understand donor strategies and contribute to shaping donor’s views on resilient food security in East Africa.

● Demonstrate flexibility, resilience and ability to maintain positive relationships and composure.

● Maintain high ethical standards and treat people with respect and dignity.

● Exhibit awareness of his/her own strengths and development needs.

Supervisory Responsibility: Resilience and Food Security Advisor, Emergency Resilience and Food Security Advisor


Reports Directly To: Regional Director, Africa

Works Directly With: Country Directors, Chiefs of Party, relevant TSU team members

Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Knowledge and Experience

● BA/S or equivalent in the relevant field required; MA/S preferred.

● 10 years of field experience in international relief and development programs, including demonstrable success in managing (large, complex, transitional) food security programs.

● 7 years of senior-level leadership, capacity building and field management experience.

● Demonstrated success in resource mobilization, donor representation, and proposal design and development.

● Experience with emergency and disaster response as appropriate.

● Demonstrated success working effectively and respectfully with host country government, private sector, INGO, NGO partners and other stakeholders in complex environments.

● Internationally recognized qualification in project or program management or a commitment to obtain the qualification in the early months of work.

● Proven skills in financial and grants management, and in particular, familiarity with USAID (BHA, Feed the Future) and emergency food security programming

● Successful and proven negotiation, communication and organization skills.

● Excellent oral and written English skills required.

● Demonstrated commitment to staff development and skills transfer within a diverse team.

● Ability to work effectively with an ethnically diverse team in a sensitive environment.

● Previous work experience in (location) and in insecure environments (if this is an insecure region) preferred.

Success Factors

The successful Food Security Director will skillfully design and lead a vision for resilient food security in East Africa, aligning Mercy Corps’ country and program teams, donors and regional partners behind a vision for resilience food security outcomes. S/he will have high emotional intelligence, constructive mentoring skills and proven experience with capacity building and 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 Director is based in Kenya. The location is accompanied and secure. Housing is individual accommodation with unlimited freedom of movement beyond the house/office. There are International schools in Kenya. Staff have ready access to services – medical, electricity, water, etc. This position requires 40% travel by air and road to field offices in secure and semi-secure environments.

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.

Ongoing Learning

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.

How to apply:

Please apply at the following link:


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