FSP Strategic Learning Manager
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.
Mercy Corps has been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since August 2007, with a staff of approximately 450 people working in Eastern DRC. Mercy Corps’ national office is in Goma with sub-field offices in North Kivu and South Kivu and Ituri. Mercy Corps’ key programming areas include a combination of longer-term development and immediate humanitarian response programs in order to: 1) Improve water service delivery and ensuring equitable access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services, in urban and rural areas; 2) Improve food security and nutrition; 3) Promote diversified livelihoods, economic recovery and development. Mercy Corps DRC’s humanitarian programs aim specifically to assist populations affected by the conflict and crisis in Eastern Congo with multi-purpose cash assistance and emergency WASH support to displaced and host populations.
Mercy Corps is currently implementing a Development Food Security Activity (DFSA) in Kabare and Kalehe territories, South Kivu province, funded by the USAID Office of Food for Peace. The USAID-South Kivu Food Security Project (FSP-Enyanya) covers a 5-year period (October 2016- September 2021) and is positioning for a minimum 2-year extension until 2023. FSP is implemented by a consortium of five NGOs for which Mercy Corps is the prime. The program aims to ensure that households and communities in the targeted areas improve their food and nutrition security and economic well-being. The program works across the three purposes of agricultural livelihoods and market integration (P1), maternal and child health and nutrition-MCHN (P2), and effective governance (P3), with a primary focus on women and youth. The program will reach more than 200,000 participants. FSP is at a strategically important cross-road with highly complex reporting requirements, MEL capacity building needs across MEL and technical teams and a potential for strategic influence with agency and donor stakeholders.
General Position Summary
The FSP Strategic Learning Manager will lead the design, implementation and use of learning initiatives to improve FSP-Enyanya’s impact on nutrition, food security and poverty reduction. They will be responsible for increasing FSP’s positive contribution to donors’ and implementing partners’ evidence-based decision-making, under the supervision of the FSP MEL Director and in close collaboration with the FSP MEL Manager. The Strategic Learning Manager will (i) refine, implement and report on strategic learning initiatives in the program, (ii) provide technical assistance to develop and implement high-quality participant-based surveys, (iii) support evidence-driven adaptive management through dashboarding and collaborating, learning and adaptation (CLA) facilitation, and (iv) build the research, learning and adaptation capacity of the national MEL and program teams.
ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS:
● Refine and update the FSP Resilience Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (RMEL) agenda based on the usefulness of learning initiatives for improving impact and influence.
● In close collaboration with FSP program teams, develop a strategy for integrating learning within FSP and strengthening FSP’s and Mercy Corps’ voice and influence in relevant sector forums; operationalize this strategy in work plans and implement it .
● Conduct ad-hoc qualitative and quantitative inquiries as discussed with and requested by the MEL Director to advance the FSP RMEL agenda.
● Document lessons learned from implementing key program interventions, as requested by the MEL Director and the COP for future project extensions or new initiatives.
● Produce 1-2 high-quality learning briefs, whitepapers or reports per quarter that showcase key insights from FSP’s research and learning initiatives, as well as recommendations for the program, mission, agency and/or donors and other implementing partners.
● Technical Survey Assistance
● Review and improve the participant-based survey (PaBS) instruments in FSP (Annual Participant-based Survey, Seasonal Farmer-based Survey, Seasonal Farmer-based Recurrent Monitoring Survey).
● Oversee sample size calculations, sample selection and sample weight adjustments for PaBS
● As requested by the MEL Director, support the Information Management (IM) team to maintain and document statistical procedures for survey data processing.
● Complement PaBS with relevant qualitative data collection and analysis tools to examine systems and processes relevant to explaining high-level outcomes such as productivity, agricultural losses, value chain development, theft, land access and women and youth inclusion.
● Draft cutting-edge annual PaBS reports that provide clear-cut recommendations for program teams to seize opportunities for quality and performance improvement.
Evidence-Driven Adaptive Management
● Develop knowledge management systems to capture, classify and act upon informal and anecdotal evidence of unintended outcomes emerging from program team feedback or MEL data.
● Ensure the maintenance of quality, performance and context dashboarding initiatives to improve the quality and scope of interventions
● Provide one-on-one support to the MEL Director, Chief of Party (COP), Deputy Chiefs of Party (DCOPs) and program managers (PMs) to interpret survey findings and to adapt the program operational strategies, the theory of change (TOC), outyear targets for Annual Monitoring (AM) indicators, and detailed implementation plans (DIPs).
● Concisely communicate key program insights from ad-hoc qualitative and quantitative inquiries and PaBS with program audiences in a concise and appropriate manner.
● As requested by the MEL Director, design and co-facilitate collaboration, learning and adaptation with the FSP team and relevant program stakeholders in accordance with USAID’s CLA toolkit.
● Facilitate a culture of curiosity, learning and adaptive work planning and implementation with program teams.
Research, Learning and Adaptation Capacity Building
● Lead the design and implementation of robust CLA approaches and processes, ensure use of existing evidence to promote performance improvement, collaboration, learning and adaptation, and identify solutions to promote data-based decision-making among program and technical staff.
● Contribute to knowledge sharing, lessons learned and best practices documentation in FSP to build an understanding of our results, impact, and work contribution to outcomes.
● Build the MEL Manager’s and the IM team’s capacity to interpret, present, analyze and design PaBS that are based on advanced sampling techniques, using statistical software.
● Build the MEL Manager’s and the MEL team’s capacity to rigorously interpet, analyze and design qualitative data.
● Build the program and MEL team’s capacity to design, manipulate, interpret, and act upon data represented in dashboards and visual presentations.
● Build the program team’s capacity to identify unintended outcomes, collect high-quality qualitative and quantitative data, and interpret findings from quantitative and qualitative analyses.
● Build the capacity of the MEL Manager and other national staff to co-produce learning briefs for FSP.
● Assist the MEL Director in other MEL-related capacity building activities, e.g. through the development of learning toolkits or by setting up webinars or brown bag meetings.
● As requested by the MEL Director, represent FSP in front of USAID, support partners such as IDEAL, SCALE and PRO-WASH, agency-internal partners from the Technical Support Unit and the MEL unit, and other project stakeholders or professional bodies.
● Work with senior and mid-management teams in FSP to demonstrate FSP’s performance improvement through evidence-based adaptation in front of external audiences.
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 Program Participants
Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards accountability, specifically to our program participants and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging participant communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field programs and projects.
SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY: MEL and PDM Officers on a shared LOE basis
REPORTS DIRECTLY TO: FSP MEL Director
WORKS DIRECTLY WITH: FSP MEL Manager, COP, DCOPs, Gender and Youth Advisor, HQ Senior Resilience MEL Advisor, Program Managers, Program Team Leaders and MEL teams at Mercy Corps and consortium partners
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE:
● An MSc/MA or equivalent in social science, economics, implementation science, agronomy or international development with at least 5 years of practical experience managing M&E and applied research, OR a PhD with at least 2 years of practical experience required.
● A proven track record in producing qualitative and quantitative assessments, evaluations or studies is required.
● Excellent qualitative research design and analysis skills required. Qualitative data analysis skills using a CADQA software (MaxQDA, Atlas.ti, NVivo) preferred.
● Theoretical and practical background in sampling for participant-based surveys required.
● Excellent quantitative analysis skills using Excel and Stata or R required.
● Strong data visualization skills required. Proven data visualization skills using Tableau strongly preferred.
● Excellent spoken and written communication and reporting skills required.
● Proven track record in facilitating adaptive management through evidence-based decision-making required.
● Experience using CommCare for data collection and management preferred.
● Demonstrated attention to detail, ability to follow procedures, meet deadlines and work independently and cooperatively with team members is required;
● Fluent written and oral communication in English is required; fluent French or intermediate French and fluent Swahili required. Familiarity with Swahili is a plus.
The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate how they communicate effectively with internal and external stakeholders to put M&E and applied research findings into practice by fostering a culture of curiosity and learning, and by partnering with program teams to adapt work plans and practices. They will communicate effectively with team members and colleagues of varied work styles and cultures.
The successful candidate will have a good general understanding of Mercy Corps’ and USAID/FFP approaches to resilience programming, market systems development, and M&E (specifically theories of change, objective target setting and Collaboration, Learning and Adaptation methodologies).
The successful candidate will have a proven ability to learn quickly, multi-task, prioritize, meet deadlines, take initiative, and be accountable for results. They will understand the larger picture while simultaneously focusing on the details. They will apply a complex problem solving approach to identifying opportunities for program improvement.
All successful Mercy Corps team members have a strong commitment to teamwork, security procedures and humanitarian accountability, thrive in evolving and changing environments and make effective written and verbal communication a priority in all situations. In DRC, patience, diplomacy, tenacity, compassion, determination, and a sense of humor are all success factors.
LIVING /ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS:
The position is based in Bukavu, South-Kivu (DRC) and requires up to 25% travel to field locations in Kabare and Kalehe territories. The position is unaccompanied. Shared accommodation will be provided in Bukavu. The position is eligible to R&R.
Bukavu is a provincial capital of approximately 1,200,000 inhabitants. Living in Bukavu is comfortable, although water and electricity can be unstable. While conditions in the country are improving, and security is quite stable in Bukavu, there are still pockets of violence and insecurity. Air travel is necessary to get from one end of the country to the other. Mobile phones and cellular service are widely available. Internet is available in all Mercy Corps offices. Travel to field sites will be required where living conditions are clean and secure, but basic. There are a number of health services available with evacuation options for serious illnesses. There is reasonable access to most consumer goods, although they can be expensive.
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.
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.
Mercy Corps Diversity Statement
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.
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.
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.