Mercy Corps

Vacancy Announcement: Technical Director – USAID Nawiri

Job Location: Nairobi, Kenya

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: With funding from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), Mercy Corps’ USAID Nawiri Program is leading a consortium of Kenyan and international partners on a five year journey to sustainably reduce persistent acute malnutrition in Turkana and Samburu Counties of Kenya.

Through a phased approach that emphasizes evidence gap analysis, as well as partnership, learning, and co-creation, the program takes a robust county-centered design with government leadership, the private sector, and civil society.

Mercy Corps’ consortium brings together the global leadership, research capacity, technical expertise, and implementation experience necessary to partner with local institutions to test, adapt, and scale evidence-based solutions. Together we will sustainably reduce persistent acute malnutrition for vulnerable populations in Turkana and Samburu counties.

The Position: The USAID Nawiri Technical Director (TD) reports directly to the Chief of Party (CoP) and is responsible for the design, management, and implementation of systems to ensure continuous flow of new and existing knowledge and evidence into program design and implementation while ensuring integration between technical components towards the program’s overall goal. With direct oversight of Learning, M&E, Research, and technical teams, s/he will ensure data gathered through desk reviews, research, monitoring and evaluation efforts, and learning activities (generated across the consortium) are analyzed to effectively inform actions and adaptations that can be effectively translated into geographically-specific resilience-building intervention plans.

The Technical Director is an innovative and systems thinker that will guide teams to test new approaches and build confidence in designing “business unusual” interventions that are rooted in evidence, contextually informed, and will sustainably address persistent acute malnutrition. Building team cohesion through coaching and support to not only deepen understanding of team member roles and responsibilities but also promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback will be a priority.

The TD will guide and support team members in work planning, sharing information, tools and resources to improve performance and reach objectives – ensuring actions are harmonized with consortium partners and targets are being met. With COP, DCOP and senior management leadership, the TD will support a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve collective impact and excellence.

The Technical Director will have a seat on the Nawiri Senior Management Team (NSMT) and play an integral role in ensuring the program embodies the principles and practices common to Collaboration, Learning, and Adaptation (CLA). With a thorough knowledge of the measurement of malnutrition and food security, s/he will work closely with all technical teams to ensure an integrated approach that is clearly defined and understood across the entire consortium. The Technical Director will serve as the accountability partner and main coordinator for support that is provided by HQ technical support teams.

S/he understands that the complex problems that USAID Nawiri seeks to address are, by definition and in practice, multi-sectoral in nature and require shared solutions across sectors and systems to support building nutrition resilience capacities. S/he is a strong influencer with the ability to communicate USAID Nawiri’s story and overall vision.

Drawing on additional technical support from Mercy Corps HQ, s/he will support the team to design, test, and scale evidence-based, context- specific, multi-sector strategies that leverage existing platforms and local capacities to efficiently and sustainably reduce persistent acute malnutrition.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy and Planning

  • Works closely with the Chief of Party (CoP) to guide overall technical vision and drive the program’s innovative, evidence-based, adaptation approach. Ensures Evidence to Impact by prioritizing and organizing collective actions and resources – building a culture of learning, collaboration and data use.
  • Identifies opportunities to test and refine technical approaches and leads on efforts to drive multi-sectoral collaborative implementation that tackles thematic issues (e.g., conflict, youth employment) in new ways to advance reductions in persistent acute malnutrition.
  • Sets the direction and internal cohesion to ensure Learning, M&E and Research is coherent and understood across composite teams as well as the wider consortium.
  • Leads technical integration between results and sectors across USAID Nawiri.
  • Challenges all team members to drive implementation based on evidence and learning.
  • Serves as the technical focal point for the program with Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU), Research, and PaQ teams – as well as technical advisors from consortium partners.
  • Promotes a multi-sectoral vision to the program through active participation, accountability and performance-based reviews with technical teams – engages technical expertise for support and integration, when required.
  • Supports the development of a program-wide resilience-building framework to guide coordination and integrated implementation in collaboration with the Resilience TSU.
  • Ensures the defined nutrition resilience pathways are implemented, monitored, regularly reviewed according to the evolving context and translated into implementation plans.
  • Identifies internal and external trends that will inform and address implementation challenges and any need to pivot programming.
  • Prepares, supports and assures team readiness to adapt to changing conditions and expectations – plays a critical oversight role in the Development Response Fund (DRF)
  • Supports quarterly/annual reflections, work plan and implementation reviews, reporting, development/adaptation of integrated strategic work-plans for the program and annual PREP development.

Program Quality, Learning & Adaptation

  • Ensures program action is driven by learning or in search of new learning
  • Supports the collection and analysis of existing data and where necessary, guides action-oriented research to analyze and understand the complex pathways to persistent acute malnutrition in the local context. Ensures the information is clear and useable for all team members and consortium partners and feeds into the program’s nutrition resilience pathways.
  • Identifies and works to address gaps in knowledge and evidence in order to adapt and improve programmatic performance and effectiveness.
  • Coordinates closely with the DCoP to ensure a common approach is being adhered to and day-to-day activities implemented are taking evidence and learning into consideration.
  • Conducts regular field visits and provides targeted technical feedback while ensuring nutrition is at the forefront of program thinking and implementation.
  • Ensures methodological rigor of all data collection and analysis efforts.
  • Provides dedicated support to county teams in the event of a shock requiring USAID Nawiri’s intervention through the DRF.
  • Adapts and develops context and program-specific guidance, tools and trainings to advance the integration of resilience-thinking and evidence to impact into program systems.
  • Directly manages the Research, Learning and Oversight Committee (RLOC) that comprises of working group representatives, technical managers, consortium representatives and other key stakeholders to ensure technical leadership is provided to the field implementing team.
  • Leads the continuous review and adaptation of detailed implementation plans, flowing from PREP development, and supports the DCOP on the delivery of the same.

Minimum Qualification & Transferable Skills

  • MA/S or equivalent experience in public health, nutrition, agriculture, governance or other relevant international development field required.
  • Minimum of ten (10) years of collective experience in team management, research, learning, and M&E, with at least three (5) years of relevant experience with food systems, nutrition, or a similar field in Africa.
  • Solid experience and familiarity with USAID’s concept of CLA including advanced techniques for facilitating collaboration, learning, and adaptive management including facilitating in-person events.
  • Demonstrated ability to design and facilitate processes to use research and M&E to improve program learning and adaptive management in the nutrition/food security sector.
  • Experience and in-depth knowledge and familiarity with USAID development sector priorities and reporting requirements; experience with programs focused on nutrition highly desirable.
  • Strong representation, networking and facilitation skills. Proven ability to synthesize and communicate complex subjects/topics effectively to multi-stakeholder groups.
  • Demonstrated ability to transfer knowledge to diverse audiences through training, mentoring, and other formal and non-formal methods.
  • Thorough understanding of resilience thinking required, with an understanding of Mercy Corps’ approach to resilience a plus. Strong understanding of food security, youth, urbanization, market systems development, and environmental programs required.
  • Understanding and familiarity with quantitative and qualitative research methods, research methodologies, data analysis, sampling techniques and report writing.
  • Ability to work effectively, responsively, and collaboratively with government counterparts such as government ministries, development and private sector partners, civil society organizations, private sector, and academic/research institutions.
  • Experience in international development and humanitarian assistance in East Africa that speaks to Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) programming is strongly preferred.
  • Experience with computer and/or web-based performance data recording and reporting systems and other technologies that improve the quality of monitoring system integrity and data collection/analysis/reporting/visualization a plus.
  • Experience conducting social science research a plus.
  • Excellent management, communication, interpersonal, cross-cultural, and organizational skills.
  • Possesses strong English oral, written communication, and presentations skills.

Application Procedure

For the detailed Position Description and application procedure, please visit the following link: