Mercy Corps Project Director – Somalia Advancing Girls Education (SAGE) Job in Hargeisa, Somalia

Position Title: Project Director – Somalia Advancing Girls Education (SAGE)
Primary Location: Hargeisa, Somalia (40%) with frequent travel to project field offices (60%)
Position Status: Full time, field-based
This position is contingent upon funding

Program / Department Summary:

The SAGE Project Director will lead the implementation of a proposed 3-year up to $30 million (£19.3 million) program to improve educational outcomes, enrolment and retention of 25,000 vulnerable primary and secondary school girls across Somalia.  

SAGE will work with girls between the ages of 6 to 19. The Project Director will lead and coordinate a multi-organizational consortium to ensure performance-based targets are met on time.  
SAGE will: 
1) improve the quality of teaching to increase girls’ learning outcomes, 
2) increase enrolment and retention of girls in formal and non-formal education, 
3) improve Somali families’ acceptance and ability to pay for girls education and 
4) expand Ministry of Education policies and capacity to integrate marginalized girls and ensure that girls’ educational gains are sustainable.  SAGE will work with the four Ministries of Education operating across Somalia (Somaliland, Puntland, and South Central Somalia). The Project Director will ensure program funds are spent efficiently and maximize Value for Money per DfID requirements.

General Position Summary:

The Project Director will provide overall leadership, management and strategic vision to the implementation of the SAGE program, managing staff, international and national partners and resources to ensure that the program meets performance based targets on-time, within budget per DfID requirements.  
The Project Director will supervise key program staff and ensure accountability to Mercy Corps policies and donor rules and regulations. S/he will be the primary program representative to donors, relevant government entities, public and private sector partners, Somali diaspora groups, and external stakeholders.

Essential Job Functions:

Vision and Strategy
  • Play an active role in identifying new initiatives that foster and/or improve strategic objectives of the country office, whether utilizing existing resources or requiring program/ project development, in coordination with the Country Director, Regional Program Director, HQ Program Operations team and other relevant personnel and counterparts.
  • Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcomed.

Program Implementation
  • Ensure SAGE implementation is responsive to vulnerable Somali girls, their communities, state and non-state primary and secondary schools and implementation partners and aligned with Mercy Corps principles, values and strategic plan. 
  • Ensure the SAGE team adheres to the Value for Money principles as outlined in Mercy Corps’ DfID proposal (i.e. economy, efficiency, effectiveness and equity).
  • Monitor adherence to grant agreement, Mercy Corps and DfID policies and procedures and relevant external rules and regulations.
  • Oversee performance of consortium partners and sub-grantees. Conduct frequent field visits to all project sites throughout Somalia.
Personal Leadership
  • Demonstrate flexibility, resilience and ability to maintain positive relationships and composure.
  • Maintain high ethical standards and treat people with respect and dignity.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of his/her own strengths and development needs.
Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) and Reporting
  • Facilitate the achievement of performance-based targets and outcomes and lead efforts to design effective, proactive, and iterative M&E systems following DfID’s logical framework
  • Oversee the scheduling and production of formal and informal reports on all aspects of the program in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Ensure that M&E team members focus on assisting programs to generate practical information that can be used for ongoing program decision-making while also capturing results at the impact level.
  • Represent Mercy Corps at government, donor, NGO and other relevant events in the field, in close coordination with the Mercy Corps Somalia Country Director. 
  • Coordinate activities with consortium partners, subgrantees, local government and other implementers, as well as with other Mercy Corps programs.
  • Proactively form relationships with private sector actors and global Somalia diaspora to complement DfID funding.
Team Management
  • Create a work atmosphere conducive to professional growth and development of excellent personnel at all levels.
  • Implement and ensure all team members are effectively using the performance planning and management system, establishing performance expectations and regularly providing constructive feedback. 
  • Promote accountability by conducting staff annual performance reviews and ensure that supervisory staff do the same.  
  • Contribute to country team-building efforts and ensure the integration of all team members into relevant decision-making processes.
Program Support Operations
  • Coordinate with program and finance and administration staff to ensure operational systems are in place to support field activities including logistics (transport, warehousing and asset management), procurement, security, administration and human resources.
  • Propose design of new local policies as needed and in accordance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations.
  • Work closely with Mercy Corps Somalia country team’s security focal point to develop and maintain systems that ensure the safety and security of the team in all aspects of its work. 
  • Ensure that SAGE activities are designed and implemented with a clear analysis and understanding of security management priorities for Mercy Corps staff, SAGE participants, and implementing partners.
Organizational Learning 
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 Beneficiaries

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.


Supervisory Responsibility: Direct supervision of: Program and Technical Manager(s), M&E Manager, Finance and Administration Manager

Reports Directly To:  Mercy Corps Somalia Country Director

Works Directly With:
Other Chief of Parties for complementary programs or program manager’s in-country, HQ Program Operations Team members, Mercy Corps Technical Support Unit (TSU) team members

Knowledge and Experience:

  • MA/S or equivalent in education, management, social sciences, international development or other relevant field.
  • A minimum of 7 to 10 years of overseas experience in active conflict or post-conflict environment including 5 years in a senior management position.
  • Strong understanding of DfID compliance issues; experience managing contracts and performance based payments is desired.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills in English required, including report development, writing and editing.
  • Strong management skills, with good understanding of relevant cross-cultural issues in high security environment.  
  • Experience managing a multi-organizational team (international and national partners) is a plus.
  • Experience managing large-scale primary or secondary education and especially targeting girls education programs required.  
  • Prefer expertise in at least one of the following areas: accelerated learning programs, Ministry of Education capacity building, teacher training (primary and secondary level), community-based education targeting community acceptance of girl’s education, and design and implementation of smart subsidies to increase education enrollment and retention.
  • Experience working in the Horn of Africa is preferred, especially in Somalia
  • Experience operating large, complex programs in an insecure environment is required.
  • Demonstrated attention to detail, ability to follow procedures, meet deadlines and work independently and cooperatively with team members.
  • Demonstrated experience working with country-level ministries and government officials, Ministry of Education experience preferred.
  • Experience coordinating with private sector actors to leverage complementary funding and increase scale of activities.
Success Factors:
The successful Project Director will combine exceptional management skills and experience in maintaining DfID and partner relationships with a focus on innovative interventions to enroll and retain Somali girls in school.  
S/he will have an outstanding ability to develop, implement and manage innovative and complex programs within the current and future program structure of Mercy Corps in the region. S/he will also have proven experience with cross-cultural teams and capacity building, individual staff development, and strong mentoring skills. Multi-tasking, prioritizing, problem solving and simultaneous attention to detail and strategic vision are essential.

The most successful Mercy Corps staff members have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability, thrive in evolving and changing environments and make effective written and verbal communication a priority in all situations.

Living Conditions/Environmental Conditions:


The Project Director will be based in Hargeisa, and manage activities throughout the country.  This is an unaccompanied post in an insecure, conservative environment.  Mercy Corps team members live in group housing given security risks.

Mercy Corps team members represent the agency both during and outside of 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.

Please use the following link to apply online:

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