Program Advisor: Seed Systems in Emergency and Fragile Contexts (Europe or DC based)
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The Seed Systems in Emergency and Fragile Contexts program is a three-year award funded through ISSD Africa. This action learning project seeks to understand the challenges associated with seed systems during emergency or natural disasters, and the unique contexts, challenges and opportunities of seed systems in fragile states. Based on in-depth understanding and communication with stakeholders, the project will develop and/or adapt existing tools to better enable stakeholders to develop context-appropriate interventions that improve seed systems in emergency contexts and fragile states.
The Strengthening Capacity in Agriculture, Livelihoods, and Environment (SCALE) award is a five year Associated Award funded by the USAID Office of Food for Peace (FFP) through the Technical and Operational Performance Support (TOPS) program led by Save the Children US. SCALE is designed to further improve the impact, sustainability, and scalability of FFP's programming in agriculture, natural resource management, and alternative livelihoods in emergency and development settings.
Both programs are managed through the Agriculture Technical Support Unit (TSU).
General Position Summary The Program Advisor will spend the majority of their time (c. 60%) leading all the activities involved in the implementation of the ISSD-funded seed system project, including project strategy, reporting and budgeting. Program activities will include: an in-depth desk review of the existing research and frameworks on emergency seed responses and seed systems in fragile states complimented with research on the ground including market assessments and market mapping exercises; development of a Seed Emergency Response Framework, including a Seed Emergency Decision Tree, a Context Analysis Tool and Intervention Prioritization Framework, and detailed Seed Sector Roadmap for selected country(ies) (these will be refined and peer-tested via online discussions and workshops, and disseminated to all stakeholders involved in seed relief); and two synthesis papers on effective interventions in seed emergencies and best practices observed in donor interventions in fragile states.
The remaining time (c. 40%) will support research activities of the SCALE award and Agriculture TSU, and implementation of SCALE activities in francophone countries. These will include: research activities identified in the SCALE resilient agriculture learning agenda; specific technical support to seed systems and post-harvest activities; and a regional focus for francophone Africa identifying local actors and networks that support the sustainability of SCALE learning interventions, as well as support to knowledge capture and capacity-strengthening activities in those countries.
Essential Job Responsibilities
STRATEGY & VISION • Lead the development and adjustment of the Seed System project and contribute to the SCALE strategy.
• Contribute to industry work in seed systems, agriculture, and NRM using a systems-based learning approach that incorporates and shares key scientific and development research, identifies and develops key implementation materials, builds strong networks of partners, and supports sustainable sharing and learning mechanisms to enhance program impact.
• Build external visibility on relevant technical areas.
• Lead technical knowledge sharing events at the field level, document and share best practice and lessons learned, develop guidance documents based on lessons learned, facilitate communities of practice and formalized communication with technical networks.
• Ensure that program implementation is responsive to implementing partners and consistent with Mercy Corps' relevant program guidelines, principles, values, quality standards and strategic plan.
• Ensure delivery of knowledge sharing and learning activities on time, target and budget, using effective M&E systems to reach desired impacts.
• Contribute to influential analysis and derive new insights from field assessments and industry learning; incorporate those results, best practices, and industry principles into the program.
• 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 all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps' Gender Policy, Do No Harm principles, and beneficiary accountability standards.
MONITORING, EVALUATION AND IMPACT MEASUREMENT • Implement activities to assess and document the impact of knowledge sharing and learning and interventions.
FINANCE & COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT
• Ensure compliance with ISSD, USAID and Mercy Corps regulations.
• Draft and/or review scope of work to hire and manage any technical consultants, including review for technical efficacy and contract budget.
REPRESENTATION, THOUGHT LEADERSHIP, AND PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
• Identify, build and manage strategic partnerships with ISSD and USAID at the HQ level and in the field, as well as with networks and stakeholders.
• Represent both programs and Mercy Corps with different stakeholders, in relevant practitioner and learning networks and at key events, as well as through developing industry wide papers, conference presentations, and online fora.
• Communicate effectively to ensure overall program targets and donor obligations are met.
• 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 toward 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.
Reports Directly To: SCALE Program Director
Works Directly With: Director of Agriculture, SCALE Agriculture Advisors and other SCALE team member, Agriculture and other relevant TSU, PRO-WASH award and IDEAL staff, field staff.
Knowledge and Experience
• Bachelor's degree or equivalent in a related field. Advanced degree at master's level preferred or at least 6 years of work experience related to agriculture or international development.
• A minimum of 3 years of experience researching, leading and supporting program implementation for international development and emergency projects.
• Expertise in seed systems, agriculture and natural resource management
• Experience in agricultural research, developing and knowledge sharing strategies, learning tools, and leading/facilitating events.
• Demonstrated ability of engaging stakeholders at different levels from different types of agencies to collate learning and develop frameworks for implementation.
• Excellent spoken and written English required, French is a plus
The successful applicant will balance in-depth technical expertise in the agriculture sector with research skills and development of program implementation guidance. Strong understanding of seed systems in emergency and development contexts. Practical implementation of programs to ensure knowledge sharing, learning and uptake is grounded in practical reality is essential. The successful applicant will have the drive and confidence to innovate, and a true ambition to build knowledge as a means to improve program quality. Strong networking, listening, communication and negotiations skills are essential to the success of this role. He/she will be self-motivated and able to think creatively about achieving capacity strengthening objectives for a global, multi-organizational target audience. 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 position is based in Mercy Corps Washington DC or European offices, and requires up to 35% travel to USAID/FFP and Mercy Corps implementation countries, which may include program areas of sometimes high security risk.
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.