Head of Livelihood Programs - Baghdad, Iraq

Programming Baghdad, Iraq


This role is pending funding. 

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.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps has worked across Iraq’s 18 governorates since 2003, implementing relief and development programming, more than a third of which has focused on the specific needs of refugees and displaced persons. Mercy Corps Iraq’s goal is to work with civil society, public and private sector partners to meet immediate needs and reduce longer-term vulnerabilities of communities within Iraq. Mercy Corps Iraq focuses on (1) providing humanitarian assistance to conflict affected populations to meet basic needs, maintain human dignity and facilitate self-empowerment; (2) supporting income-generating opportunities that transition individuals and households from financial dependency towards financial independence while facilitating market-system approaches; (3) working with young females and young males to address their diverse needs, promoting leadership and linkages with civil society, as well as access to education, psychosocial support, and economic opportunities; and (4) promoting reconciliation and foster trust across community divisions by strengthening conflict management and prevention mechanisms and enhancing social cohesion.

General Position Summary

Pending funding, Mercy Corps will implement a livelihoods program funded that aims to improve the business environment, and improve access to livelihoods opportunities as well as increase the skill set of labor force. The Head of Livelihood Programs provides day-to-day oversight and strategic leadership on the development and implementation of Mercy Corps’ livelihoods programming. This involves management of all aspects of the program, including recruitment and performance management, assessments, designing, planning, implementation, monitoring, capacity building of local partners and Mercy Corps staff, reporting, technical support to various project stakeholders, including Mercy Corps’ staff.

The position will require representation with peer organizations, local communities, local authorities, and donors as well as acting as a liaison with appropriate coordination bodies on sector related developments as well as contributing high standard technical inputs for business development to ensure program quality for planned programs.

Essential Job Responsibilities

  • Provide leadership in the development of livelihoods portfolio and work to create economic opportunities based on a strong contextual understanding of Iraq—and that is in line with Mercy Corps’ values.
  • Identify and prioritize strategic sectors of focus as well as identify and engage market, community and government actors to partner with or support in economic recovery and development activities.
  • Stay abreast of and analyze livelihoods trends and adapt program strategies to meet needs.
  • Identify opportunities for the design and development of concept notes and proposals for further programming and portfolio expansion.
  • Contribute to the technical and operational advocacy strategies of the mission, region, and HQ.


  • Develop and maintain effective working relationships with all stakeholders – including consortium partners, NGOs, government officials, clusters, UN agencies, and community based organizations – to enhance cooperation and coordination.
  • Represent Mercy Corps in coordination meetings and other relevant forums.
  • Ensure that information from coordination meetings is shared internally and with other sectors, as appropriate.
  • Ensure that program implementation is responsive to communities and partners; consistent with Mercy Corps’ relevant program guidelines, principles, values, quality standards and strategic objectives; and complies with donor regulations and policies.
  • Oversee program startup and ongoing program management and administration of teams across various field locations.
  • Facilitate planning meetings and support project teams to develop work plans, budget forecasts, and monitoring tools to document inputs, activities, outputs, achievements and lessons learned.


  • Oversee the design, planning, implementation and documentation of livelihoods programming to help beneficiaries strengthen capacities to mitigate vulnerabilities and build resilience to shocks and stressors in their communities.
  • Identify feasible and market demand driven income generating opportunities and skills building projects in sectoral areas of recovery and growth.
  • Provide technical oversight to the field teams and mentor staff in the design and implementation of livelihoods activities.


  • Hire, supervise and build the capacity of team members in relevant technical and management competencies, deepening understanding of their roles and assisting with career development.
  • Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance & reach objectives.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and performance reviews.
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.


  • Ensure compliance with donor regulations and Mercy Corps policies.
  • Draft and/or review scope of work to hire and manage any technical consultants, including review for technical efficacy and contract budget.
  • Manage the program budget to ensure that spending is donor-compliant and program-effective.



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


  • 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.
  • 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.

Supervisory Responsibility

Direct supervision of staff in the program, including DPMs, SPOs, POs, and APOs.


Reports Directly To: Director of Programs

Works Directly With: MEL Team, Program Managers, Reporting & Program Development Manager. Coordinates with Regional Advisors and HQ Regional Program Team.


Knowledge and Experience

  • Bachelor degree or equivalent in development, economics, social sciences/international studies, business or related field. Masters preferred.
  • 5+ years of work experience and strong technical knowledge in livelihoods/employment programming (vocational training; business and life skills concepts; apprenticeships; enterprise development, community infrastructure projects; cash-based interventions, e.g. Cash for Work; Self Help Groups (SHGs), etc.).
  • At least 3 years in a management position in emergency/early recovery contexts with vulnerable populations (including displaced/refugees) in areas affected by conflict and insecurity and post-conflict transition.
  • Strong experience of working directly with local communities, local authorities and the private sector with good understanding of relevant cross-cultural issues.
  • Demonstrated attention to detail, adherence to procedures, ability to meet deadlines as well as to work independently and cooperatively with team members.
  • Effective multi-tasking, organizational capacity and prioritization skills are necessary.
  • Previous experience living and working in challenging or insecure environments.
  • Excellent communication, writing, critical analysis and negotiation skills.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English. Arabic language skills preferred.

Success Factors

The successful candidate will have the ability to multi-task, set priorities, and work under tight deadlines within a complex team. S/he will demonstrate strong interpersonal and cross-cultural communication skills and be committed to the values and mission of Mercy Corps. S/he will take initiative and contribute to team efforts, as well as demonstrate an ability to communicate, assume leadership, and make solid decisions while working remotely from country leadership.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position will be based in Baghdad with frequent travels within Iraq. This position is unaccompanied and living conditions are in group housing: water, electricity and internet are present with some cuts. This location is eligible for a hardship allowance and R&R breaks.

Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and Mercy Corps' 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.