Collaboration, Learning and Adapting (CLA) Director, Sahel Regional Resilience

Programs Dakar, Dakar


Position is contingent on 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 is seeking a Director of Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) for the anticipated USAID-funded “Regional Resilience Activity in the Sahel Region.” Funded and managed out of the USAID Sahel Regional Office, the anticipated program seeks to expand resilience in the Sahel by improving the ability of individuals, households, and communities to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from multi-faceted shocks and stresses. Implementation is planned for Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and The Gambia – with the possibility of additional countries – and is expected to include the management of multiple awards under a single mechanism.

General Position Summary

The CLA Director will be responsible for leading and overseeing all CLA activities in the program. The CLA Director is an important position in the program responsible for driving strategy discussions and design of the CLA approach, providing technical assistance and developing successful mechanisms for learning. They will oversee co-development and facilitation of collaboration and learning workshops with MEL and technical leads, the establishment and management of robust knowledge management systems, and the engagement of team members and partners in identifying evidence-based ways to adapt and scale interventions. The CLA Director will use USAID’s Collaboration, Learning, and Adapting principles with a resilience lens to effectively integrate real time monitoring and learning back into the project strategy and program implementation and ensure knowledge is shared with the broader Sahelian implementation and donor community. They will design and lead the program’s overall approach to fostering CLA and  supervise the learning agenda, knowledge management, and reporting functions to systematically generate, synthesize, share, and apply learning, effective, and adaptive management.

Essential Responsibilities

Strategy & Vision

        Provide overall leadership, management, and technical direction for program’s CLA activities. Develop and implement a CLA strategy grounded in a resilience approach and aligned with the program’s goals and the USAID Sahel Regional Office’s objectives. Develop and oversee a CLA workplan of planned activities, ensuring the strategy is implemented impactfully and on-time.

        Promote and actively strengthen a culture of collaboration, learning and adaptation across the program and region. 


Technical Leadership

        Design and facilitate CLA activities in co-creation with relevant technical representatives and partner organizations, including knowledge sharing, technical exchanges, learning events, and regular reflection sessions amongst both internal stakeholders (team members, partners) and external (peer agencies, local and regional institutions, and USAID implementing partners).

        Provide strategic guidance, technical assistance and capacity-building support to program staff and partners on CLA principles,  practices and tools.

        Establish and nurture partnerships and regular communication with implementing partners, local organizations, donors, and other stakeholders to leverage resources and knowledge towards aligned objectives. Facilitate coordination and collaboration among these groups.

        Identify and build strategic linkages with complementary regional and local institutions and platforms to strengthen collective impact, reinforce local institutions’ resilience building efforts and make best use of resource allocation.

        Work closely with the MEL Director to ensure the coherent design and implementation of the leader project’s systems for monitoring, evaluations,  internal and external reviews and learning agenda to assess the quality and effectiveness and impact of CLA efforts and adapt accordingly.

        Collaborate with M&E teams to adopt a holistic program-level CLA system and ensure that data collection and analysis is both systematic and properly utilized to support adaptive management. Use M&E findings to inform project decision-making and adapt strategies.

        Establish and manage the project’s knowledge management systems to track, curate and share knowledge products among partners.

        Ensure that tasks are performed to a high professional standard and fulfill donor and Mercy Corps’ CLA requirements, and that all deliverables are of high quality and met in a timely fashion.

        Lead and manage a team of CLA specialists.


Team Management

        Actively hire, orient and lead team members and consultants as necessary, ensuring effective onboarding mechanisms are in place across the team. Actively support succession planning.

        Strengthen the capacity of the team as needed, both as individuals and as a cohesive unit.  Facilitate mechanisms for effective collaboration.

        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.


Capacity building and mentoring

        Develop and oversee implementation of the CLA staff and partner capacity building strategy that promotes a culture of learning through systematic analysis and reflection of program data.

        Identify and foster knowledge sharing and capacity strengthening across CLA points of contact  across the countries, awards and partners.

        Build the capacity of all relevant team members to develop and maintain an excellent CLA system grounded in resilience approach principles, including regular reflection and analysis of program monitoring data.

        Work closely with Program Managers, Technical Leads, Human Resources and Finance to ensure that CLA skills are incorporated into all program position descriptions and positions are budgeted for.

        Contributes to the knowledge management repository with best practices in CLA and ensure that it is accessible to all staff and partners.

        Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.


Internal and External Coordination

        Identify key stakeholders and partners at both the country and regional level and establish mechanisms for collaboration. Actively contribute and collaborate with regional and global counterparts to promote the use of CLA best practices.

        Share program learnings and impact with regional and host-county stakeholders including consortium partners, subgrantees, public and private sector entities, local government and other implementers, as well as with other Mercy Corps programs.

        Maintain close working relationships with CLA counterparts in other relevant international actors and USAID implementing partners across both the Sahel Regional Office and relevant country missions (Mali, Niger).

        Facilitate the dissemination of data, lessons learned, and best practices to program teams, local and regional stakeholders, USAID, and peer organizations across the Sahel region.

        Communicate effectively with USAID, program teams, partners, and stakeholders to ensure alignment with CLA objectives.



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 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.

Supervisory Responsibility

CLA Specialists. The number of direct reports is to be determined.


Reports Directly To: Chief of Party

Works Directly With: M&E Director and team; Technical Leads; staff across the Sahel Region; HQ and Regional Technical Resources and Quality team; Evidence & Learning team; partner organizations


Minimum Qualifications & Transferable Skills

        BA/S degree in development studies, research methods, statistics, economics, social sciences, project management or other relevant field required. A Masters degree is an asset.

        A minimum of 5 years of experience overseeing the CLA components of a donor-funded project, preferably USAID.

        Past experience with USAID monitoring and evaluation procedures is a positive.

        Proven experience in quantitative and qualitative research methods, survey design and implementation, and statistical data analysis is required.

        Familiarity with applying the Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) approach to management is desired.

        Effective personnel management, coordination, and decision-making skills, with proven ability to oversee and track multiple efforts and workplans.

        Competent in building networks, strong problem-solving skills, and ability to influence with effective listening, persuasion, negotiation and other techniques.

        Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English and French.

        Experience working in the Sahel region is required.

        Demonstrated attention to detail, ability to follow procedures, meet deadlines and work independently and cooperatively with team members.



Success Factors

The successful CLA Director will combine strong CLA technical skills and excellent coordination and management abilities. S/he will have an outstanding ability to develop, implement and manage innovative CLA approaches within the current and future program structure of Mercy Corps in the region. S/he will also have proven experience with cross-cultural teams and capacity building, individual staff development, and strong mentoring skills. Multi-tasking, prioritizing, problem solving and simultaneous attention to detail and strategic vision are essential.  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 CLA Director is based in one of the Sahel countries, likely Senegal or Burkina Faso. The location is expected to be accompanied and secure. Housing is individual accommodation with freedom of movement beyond the house/office. There are international schools. Staff have relatively reliable access to services – medical, electricity, water, etc. This position requires approximately 30% travel by road or plane to field offices with varying levels of security. This position is not eligible for hardship and/or R&R benefits.

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.