Country Director - Afghanistan

Programs Kabul, Afghanistan


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 been present in Afghanistan since 1986. Our work seeks to enable Afghans to improve their quality of life by strengthening their sustainable, equitable and legitimate livelihoods, with the ultimate goal to support Afghanistan to evolve from a fragile to a strong state. We focus our interventions on Agribusiness, Youth Skills Building, Natural Resources Management, Renewable Energy and Humanitarian Response. With funding from USAID, SIDA, EC,UNODC, Department of State - Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration, KfW Development Bank, and Aga Khan Foundation. In the last 5 years our efforts have benefitted approximately 300,000 program participants per year. Our team is comprised of a 314 Afghan Nationals and 6 expats. We work hand in hand with the Afghan government and in partnership with national and international stakeholders present in our sectors of work. Mercy Corps Afghanistan implements its programs in 10 provinces of the country through offices in Kabul, Kandahar, Badakhshan, Helmand, Baghlan, Takhar, Parwan, Uruzgan, Herat and Nangarhar.

General Position Summary

The Country Director (CD) is an innovative and visionary leader responsible for resourcefully managing all programming in Afghanistan, resulting in lasting improvement in the lives of our team members and program participants. S/He has held senior roles in formulating strategic direction within an international development context. The CD has supervisory responsibility for the country team and overall guidance and management of country programs, and implementation of all security protocols. The CD develops sustainable, multi-sector programming and is accountable to program

participants and donors, placing a high value on innovative solutions to development issues and creative partnerships in tough environments.

Essential Job Responsibilities


  • In the evolving context, with a participatory approach, formulate and communicate a clear vision to team members and stakeholders that translates into concrete programs and plans.
  • Lead the annual country strategy planning and update process.
  • Set direction by prioritizing and organizing actions and resources to achieve program and agency objectives.
  • Use technical support teams collaboratively as well as external consultants that could support our business development and/or quality program implementation efforts.
  • Share Mercy Corps Afghanistan successes and technical approaches with other Mercy Corps teams in the region and/or globally. Promote cross collaboration and learning.
  • Explore and present funding opportunities that integrate initiatives and leverage impact for the communities; support and direct fund-raising activities with institutional and private donors.


  • Proactively represent Mercy Corps with all levels of government, as well as donor, partners, local and international stakeholders, and the communities we serve.
  • Develop and nurture relationships with relevant government departments for timely implementation of planned interventions
  • Represent Mercy Corps programs with national and international media and participate in community activities as appropriate.
  • Maintain productive relationships with internal and external constituents such as private partners, local governments, foundations, the private sector, etc.
  • Develop and foster partnerships that add value to our programming strengths and position us to be competitive for large funding opportunities.
  • Anticipate needs, understand donor pool and contribute to shaping donor’s views on development.
  • Demonstrate flexibility, resilience and ability to maintain positive relationships and composure.
  • Maintain high ethical standards and treat people with respect and dignity.
  • Exhibit awareness of his/her own strengths and development needs.


  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence and understand and live Mercy Corps organizational culture and values.
  • Oversee and lead training and learning processes where team members internalize and behave according to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct, Safeguarding and all our Ethics Policies.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback informally and formally via regular one on ones and performance reviews
  • Develop the capacity of the team, deepen understanding of their roles and assist with career development.
  • Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance & reach objectives.
  • Hire, orient and lead team members as necessary.
  • Facilitate meetings and processes where team members feel empowered and equipped to take actions towards achieving our programs’ and agency goals.
  • Facilitate and lead regular staff meetings and ad-com meetings. Follow up with required actions as needed.


  • Oversee program quality and impact by ensuring programs are based on sound design principles and utilize Mercy Corps and donor required M&E systems.
  • Ensure effective, transparent use of resources in compliance with Mercy Corps and donor policies/procedures.
  • Oversee budget management of sub-grantees/sub-contractors, if applicable.
  • Build and maintain operational systems that ensure proper administrative support for programs, as well as segregation of duties between finance and operations.
  • Fulfill Mercy Corps’ Program Management Minimum Standards based on the organization-wide guide.
  • Ensure all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Gender Policy, Do No Harm principles, and beneficiary accountability standards.


  • Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations related to emergency programming.
  • Draft and/or review scope of work to hire and manage any technical consultants, including review for technical efficacy and contract budget.
  • Build and maintain operational structures that ensure proper segregation of duties between finance, administration and logistics and fully support field programs.


  • Liaise with the VP of Operations and Regional Director on crucial events, high-risk periods, incident reporting and security policy changes.

Supervisory Responsibility: Operations, Finance and Program Directors


Reports Directly To: Regional Director

Works Directly With: CASA Desk and other teams at Headquarters as needed.

Accountability to Participants and Stakeholders

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our program participants, community partners, other stakeholders, and to international standards guiding international relief and development work. We are committed to actively engaging communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Minimum Qualification & Transferable Skills

  • BA/S or equivalent in relevant field required; MA/S preferred.
  • 7-10 years of field experience in international relief and development programs, including demonstrable success in managing (large, complex, transitional) development programs (experience in any of these sectors is a plus: Humanitarian Response, Natural Resources Management, Renewable Energy, Agribusiness, Youth Skills building).
  • 5 years of senior-level leadership, capacity building and field management experience.
  • Demonstrated success working effectively and respectfully with host country government, private sector, INGO, NGO partners and other stakeholders in complex environments.
  • Internationally recognized qualification in project or program management or a commitment to obtain the qualification in the early months of work.
  • Proven skills in financial and grants management; prior experience with USAID, USDS, DFID, EC, UN, and private donors.
  • Successful and proven negotiation, communication and organization skills.
  • Proven capacity to analyze the political and social context in which our organization operates to make informed decisions.
  • Excellent oral and written English skills required; proficiency in (Dari or Pashto) is a plus.
  • Ability to work effectively with an ethnically diverse team in a sensitive environment.
  • Previous work experience in Afghanistan or in the region, and in insecure environments is preferred.
  • Capacity to respond to emergency and disaster response as appropriate.
  • Knowledge of Sphere standards and other training in emergency response preferred.

Success Factors

The successful Afghanistan CD will be a gracious, personable leader who has an energizing effect on our team, partners and communities. A politically savvy, balanced, and astute individual who has the persona to successfully convene and partner with relevant stakeholders in the ever shifting and complex ecosystem in Afghanistan. Calm and emotionally intelligent, personifying grace under fire, especially in leading our team through the management of urgent, security and emergency situations. They will have the vision to see possibilities for positive change where others see deprivation; and be able to lead the design and implementation of bold solutions. They will skillfully acquire support of donors and regional partners for meeting the priorities of our communities while providing effective leadership. They will have high emotional intelligence, constructive mentoring skills and proven experience with capacity building and will be committed to long-term program sustainability and the delivery of high-impact activities at the community level. Successful Mercy Corps team members have a strong commitment to teamwork and accountability, thrive in evolving and challenging environments, and make effective written and verbal communication a priority.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The CD is based in Kabul. The location is unaccompanied and with a moderate security risk. Some of the provinces the CD will visit present a high security risk. Housing is provided with limited freedom of movement beyond the guest house/office. In Kabul staff have access to services – medical, electricity, water, etc. This position requires approximately 15%-20% of time of travel by terrestrial or aerial means of transportation to field offices that present moderate and high levels of operational risks.

Ongoing Learning

In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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.

Equal Employment Opportunity

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.

Safeguarding & Ethics

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.