Senior Advisor - Resilience, Food Security and Learning

NGO Jobs / UN Jobs Vacancy

Organization: Mercy Corps
Closing date: 25 Jan 2021

This position is open to any Mercy Corps location

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To do this, we know our teams do their best work when they are diverse and every team member feels that they belong. We welcome diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be stronger and have long term impact.

The Program / Department / Team

Mercy Corps is committed to generating and using evidence to understand and improve our impact, and to enhance the humanitarian and development community’s ability to address the world’s most complex challenges. This position will be split between two teams: Research and Learning and the Technical Support Unit. The Research and Learning team enhances Mercy Corps’ ability to deliver high impact programming, learn from that programming, and influence major debates and decisions affecting our work by supporting the generation and use of high quality evidence. Mercy Corps has firmly established a reputation as an industry leader in the field of resilience, including resilience measurement and research. Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU) is a key part of the Program Department. TSU subject-matter experts help set agency strategy and provide consultation – from assessment and design through project implementation and results measurement – to field offices worldwide, in some of the world’s toughest places. TSU team members lead research, foster organizational learning, represent Mercy Corps to external audiences, and develop partnerships. The TSU is also integral to global business development and revenue.

The Position

This position is divided evenly to support the Resilience Evaluation, Analysis and Learning 2 (REAL 2) and Implementer-Led Design, Evidence, Analysis and Learning (IDEAL) awards. The USAID funded REAL 2 award is a five-year consortium-led follow-on Associate Award led by Save the Children partnered with Mercy Corps and TANGO International. It was established to respond to growing demand among USAID Missions, host governments, implementing organizations, and other key stakeholders for rigorous, yet practical, monitoring, evaluation, strategic analysis, and capacity building support. As part of the REAL 2 consortium, Mercy Corps has worked closely with USAID to provide rigorous analysis, relevant knowledge, and applicable guidance on best practices for resilience measurement, program design, and implementation.

The other half of this position will be funded by the five year IDEAL award, which is designed to provide strategic capacity strengthening to implementing partners of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), and other food security stakeholders. The goal of IDEAL is to contribute to improved design, implementation and overall effectiveness of USAID’s BHA development and emergency food aid programs. As an implementing partner on IDEAL, Mercy Corps provides technical leadership on several thematic areas including the “Integrated Activity Design and Implementation” and “Sustainability and Planning for Exit” content focus areas. This position will be responsible for leading IDEAL’s technical advisory panel (TAP) and the strategy for integration and sustainability content focus area (CFA), including defining TAP priorities and engaging key stakeholders to improve the quality of programming on the focus thematic area.

For more information on REAL, see this brief and for IDEAL, read this brief.

Essential Responsibilities


Capacity Strengthening & Resource Development

  • Assess critical gaps in knowledge and capacity and identify strategic priorities and plans to advance the quality of resilience and food security programming.
  • Identify resources required to update and adapt technical content, knowledge and skills building processes for key stakeholders.
  • Oversee content and process adaptation, development and dissemination; ensure materials reflect high standards of technical and operational excellence and are consistent with donor and other key stakeholder expectations.
  • Ensure capacity-building material reflects key lessons-learned and best-practices in pedagogy and adult learning, and are relevant to practitioners; seek regular feedback and manage update and adaptation of approaches based on lessons-learned.
  • Map out and target specific audiences and messages for knowledge products.
  • Facilitate the roll out of content and processes, in coordination with partners, key events and priorities; where appropriate, directly deliver training to advance improved application of promising practices.

Knowledge Capture, Learning and Exchange

  • Co-create and facilitate the use of resilience and food security knowledge to improve design and adaptive management of program investments.
  • Support the design and implementation of in-person and virtual capacity strengthening and knowledge sharing events by identifying learning objectives, target audience and speakers.
  • Lead design and implementation of Resilience Learning Journeys among USAID, partner governments, and implementing partners through online discussions, social media and webinars.
  • Support consortium partners in the design and implementation of communications products and social media plans for program learning.
  • Support the curation of resources on FSN Network and other knowledge sharing platforms.
  • Develop concept notes for learning activities with USAID, partner governments, and implementing partners.
  • Maintain effective knowledge management systems.
  • Contribute to and link learning products and events to relevant communities of practice, regional and global knowledge management mechanisms, and industry events.


  • Contribute to agency-wide initiatives such as the resilience research agenda, relevant agency influence priorities, etc. around Thought Leadership priority topics.
  • Provide leadership and oversight for IDEAL’s TAP on Integration & Sustainability for emergency and development food security activities, which includes facilitating regular TAP meetings, developing a schedule of activities, following up on action items, and monitoring milestones.
  • Provide technical oversight of IDEAL small grants projects related to integration and sustainability.
  • Identify and regularly update a network of technical experts and consultants that can serve as an additional resource to be deployed for project support.
  • Liaise with REAL and IDEAL’s management team to review and reflect on progress, and update strategies and plans to ensure timely completion of workstream objectives.


  • Keep up to date on relevant strategies being developed or applied by significant governmental, academic, and non-profit groups. Work with Mercy Corps to determine how the agency can best work with and/or influence such materials.
  • Identify networks and develop strategic partnerships with organizations and institutions focused on improving the quality and impact of programming.
  • Represent Mercy Corps at academic events, conferences, media forums, and other events, including internal learning activities, and contribute to thought leadership in the area of expertise.
  • Liaise with donor contacts and subject matter specialists to bring forward evolving implementer needs and priorities.
  • Advance Mercy Corps’ profile in resilience building strategies, food security, sustainability and integration.

Supervisory Responsibility



Reports Directly To: Director, Research and Learning for Resilience
Works Directly With: Senior Resilience Knowledge Management Advisor, Senior Technical Advisor for Food Security on IDEAL, REAL & IDEAL consortium partners

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.

Minimum Qualification & Transferable Skills

● M.A, M.S., M.Sc., or equivalent in an international development or related field required

● 5 to 7 years of experience providing increasingly proficient technical support in the relevant field of expertise that includes:

  • Demonstrating strong theoretical and applied knowledge of the field of expertise.
  • Awareness of implementers active in the areas of resilience programming and food security
  • Support to change management, knowledge management and organizational learning, adaptive management or other related field

● Practical field experience, typically over the course of 2 years, that includes:

  • A combination of successful temporary duration field assignments (under two weeks), longer-term field assignments (two or more weeks), and/or living in a field location for an extended period to work in a country or field office.
  • Managing and implementing successful programs in the field.
  • Delivering capacity building curriculum or other processes

● Familiarity with USAID bureaus such as BHA (formerly Food for Peace and OFDA), Center for Resilience, and/or Analysis and Learning Division

● Experience/Familiarity in USAID BHA Food Security programs is preferred.

● Fluency in English is required

Success Factors

The Sr Advisor will bring flexibility, creativity, and enthusiasm to every project they undertake. The individual must have the ability to multitask, set priorities, pay attention to detail, and work under tight deadlines within complex team environments. They must take an active role in building and maintaining external relationships as well as demonstrating the drive and initiative to contribute to internal team efforts. The individual must learn quickly how to provide technical data and support in the most efficient and effective form possible for each unique field team and environment. All TSU positions require strong interpersonal and cross-cultural communication skills, and a level of emotional intelligence proficiency that quickly builds and maintains productive relationships across teams. Being aware and sensitive to international development issues and diverse cultures is critical.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The position is based in any Mercy Corps locations and it requires up to 30% travel to support country programs, which may include travel to insecure locations where freedom of movement is limited and areas where amenities are limited. Housing for this role is in individual housing and staff will have access to good medical services and the living situation is of a high standard.

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:

Apply here

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