Social Protection Policy Advisor - Iraq

Programming Erbil, Iraq


About Mercy Corps

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Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

Under the overall supervision of the Cash Working Group (CWG) co-leads, the successful candidate will provide policy advice, conduct rigorous quantitative analysis and support to the Cash Working Group in Iraq, specifically aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the response and fostering linkages between the CWG’s MPCA programme, and the federal social safety net administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. This is an entirely new, ambitious and exciting program, and we expect candidates to display the same traits and qualities.   


General Position Summary

Given the changing context of the Iraq humanitarian response, there is a greater need to conduct work that aims at deriving durable solutions and aligning humanitarian interventions (especially the multi-purpose cash assistance) with the broader social protection schemes available through the federal government’s social protection system. The national Cash Working Group (CWG) Policy Advisor will be responsible for assisting in producing groundbreaking research, policy and quantitative analysis work in support of achieving greater alignment between the existing humanitarian interventions and social protection workstreams aimed at promoting durable solutions. The successful candidate will work directly with the World Bank and CWG teams to support this outcome. The successful candidate will also work with a varied array of stakeholders (the World Bank, UNHCR, the Social Protection Forum, the Returns Working Group, the Cash Consortium for Iraq, the donor community, etc.) to contribute to the execution of a work plan aimed towards the eventual transition from humanitarian assistance towards more sustainable forms of support.


Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy & Vision
  • Lead the development, implementation and operationalization of the Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) strategy for Iraq through effective engagement with stakeholders, coordination forums and policy discussions relevant to transitioning MPCA recipients into the government social safety net. Work to establish appropriate safeguards so that this is done ethically and securely.
  • In partnership with counterparts from the World Bank, relevant line ministries and the humanitarian community, co-lead the design of a referrals mechanism grounded in robust analysis to support transition to national services, including non-contributory social protection programmes. As appropriate, support the revision of targeting methods.
Program Management
  • Through quantitative analysis, support the design of a referral mechanism for MPCA recipients to transition to the federal social safety net.
  • Provide technical and capacity building support to Cash Working Group partners in this referral mechanism and ensure roll out is accomplished to a high standard.
  • Lead on the design, planning, and implementation of research and programme initiatives in the areas of relevance to the transition discourse.
  • Identify key topics for future research that are under-researched, and contribute knowledge to the wider cash sector, with a focus on social protection programming.
  • Support the revision of targeting systems as needed.
  • Participate or lead relevant Tasks Forces set-up by the CWG Steering Committee for specific tasks.
  • Participate in the Steering Committees when required as technical advisory to the Committee members
  • Develop and/or operationalize data analysis platforms and methods in order to produce advocacy tools and data products.
  • Compile, aggregate and analyze data and information elements required to produce policy messages and documents.
  • Perform other duties as required.


Influence & Representation
  • Support the Cash Working Group in engaging with key stakeholders working towards durable solutions, including the World Bank, the Social Protection Forum and the Returns Working Group.
  • Engage in discussions with the World Bank and relevant government ministries in order to ensure the maximum possible level of alignment and coordination.
  • Support Cash Working Group partners in their engagement with broader policy conversations.
  • Participate and initiate research projects aimed to enhance the policy debate and the engagement of the CWG in this debate.
  • Represent the CWG in technical fora at the national and subnational levels.


  • Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies as determined by country
  • Proactively ensure that team members operate in a secure environment and are aware of policies.


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 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: Cash Working Group (CWG) co-leads and Cash Consortium for Iraq (CCI) Manager

Works Directly With: Cash Working Group co-leads, Cash Working Group partners, key stakeholders involved in policy discussions (the World Bank, UNHCR), key forums (the Social Protection Forum, the Returns Working Group, etc.).


Knowledge and Experience

  • Master’s Degree or equivalent in demography, political science, statistics, economics, social sciences or related area.
  • 2-4 years of relevant work experience, including familiarity with targeting methods in social protection (Proxy Means Testing, simple expenditure models, the use of regression analysis and the like).
  • Excellent quantitative and qualitative research skills.
  • Proven track record of producing successful research papers and policy briefs, based on evidence and data analysis.
  • Excellent knowledge of statistics and applied research methods.
  • Ability to compile and holistically analyze diverse datasets.
  • Advanced Excel, STATA, SPSS or R skills.
  • Experience with handling confidential data and demonstrated understanding of different data collection methodologies.
  • Knowledge of the UN system and the humanitarian community, specifically with regards to inter-agency coordination and the humanitarian reform process is preferred.
  • Experience in working with development actors in transitional contexts.
  • Experience in the context of partnership building and collaborative decision-making. Ability to work effectively and harmoniously in a diverse team and in the inter-agency context with colleagues from varied cultures and professional backgrounds.
  • Knowledge of Iraq’s political, economic and social setting.
  • Knowledge of cash-based relief and recovery programming.
  • Excellent writing, communication and negotiation skills; ability to prepare clear and concise reports.
  • Demonstrated gender awareness and gender sensitivity.
  • Excellent knowledge of English.
  • Knowledge of Arabic is preferred.

Success Factors

Contributes to results through POLICY research, ADVOCACY and analysis

  • Assess performance of the humanitarian response to identify success factors and incorporates best practices into response mechanisms.
  • Monitor and evaluate humanitarian response in order to bridge the gaps in advocacy, analysis and policy-related research.
  • Establish collaboration with developmental actors in order to ensure that research conducted on behalf of the CWG can feed into the discourse on transition to durable solutions.
  • Build strategic partnerships and engage in strategic fora.


Maintains a network of contacts

  • Maintain an established network of contacts and build effective partnerships with wider humanitarian and development counterparts, for well-coordinated humanitarian response and subsequent transition into durable solutions.
  • Analyze and select materials for strengthening strategic alliances with partners and stakeholders.
  • Identify research and advocacy solutions for internal use, and the use of partners, and report back in a timely, succinct and appropriate fashion.
  • Organize and prioritize work schedule to meet research and advocacy priorities and deadlines.


Fundamental knowledge of own discipline

  • Understand and apply fundamental concepts and principles of a professional discipline or technical specialty relating to the position.
  • Possess knowledge of organizational policies and procedures relating to policy, advocacy and conducting research at INGOs/UN agencies.
  • Strive to keep job knowledge up-to-date through self-directed study and other means of learning.
  • Demonstrate good knowledge of research methodologies and information technology and apply it in work assignments.


Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position is based in Erbil, Iraq and is unaccompanied. The location is eligible for hardship allowance and R&R benefits. Living conditions are in group housing: water, electricity and internet are present with some cuts.

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.