Regional Security Advisor - Africa

Operations & Logistics Nairobi, Kenya


Regional Security Advisor - Africa

 About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is powered by the belief that a better world is possible. To do this, we know our teams do their best work when they are diverse and every team member feels that they belong. We welcome diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be stronger and have long term impact.


The Program / Department / Team (Program / Department Summary)

Mercy Corps operates in seventeen (17) countries in employing over 2000 international and local staff. Our operations in Africa have grown rapidly over the last decade the complexity of programming and locations is anticipated to increase with more high-risk environments and ambitious programs in emergency response and work that combats the many effects of climate change on youth, migration, livelihoods and conflict. Mercy Corps implements emergency and multi-year programs in Africa that are often located in rural, heard-to-reach areas and often moderate to high risk.

Mercy Corps values inter-agency collaboration and a security strategy of risk mitigation. Mercy Corps does have global policies and standards in security and these are in concert with principles embodied in the IFRC Code of Conduct – primarily: the centrality of community acceptance as the foundation piece of security. 


The Position(General Position Summary)

The ultimate objective of the Africa Regional Security Advisor (RSA) is to reduce the risk to the Mercy Corps team and programs in Africa. This is with the context that we do (and must) take some risks to better serve communities in need. The Africa RSA will help balance acceptable risks and inform mitigation and prevention strategies. The RSA generally does not directly manage Security Focal Points or security staff which are imbedded within countries. It is expected that the RSA has a strong and productive relationship with each SFP with frequent contact, technical support and support to the resolution of incidents. The RSA is expected to have a strong and frank relationship with Country Directors and other leadership within the region and will contribute to professional, elevated discussion and strategies around security (and other) risks.  The RSA will be informed of all major incidents and stay abreast of programs across the continent. S/he will draw parallel learnings where possible, will support the professional growth of team members and also ensure the accuracy of our reporting and implementation of safety strategies. The RSA will find opportunities to consolidate and share resources. S/he will prioritize support to the highest risk countries in consultation with the Regional and Deputy Regional Directors. S/he works closely with the global security team in incident or crisis management, flash reports and the design/implementation and achievement of agency standards.


Essential Responsibilities (Example Section Below - Adapt to Specific Role)

        Stay abreast of the security situation in the Africa region and proactively apply this knowledge to program management with analysis, guidance and advice towards programmatic and operational responses.

        Stay abreast of Mercy Corps program activities, develop and deliver security guidance, training materials and contingency plans to support these activities and program objectives.

        Respond to all critical incidents and in a reporting role / in coordination with the Country Director.

        Coordinate the conduct of Risk Assessments and assign a risk rating with mitigation strategies for each program location.

        Coordinate the conduct of routine security visits with audits to all program locations.

        Review Security Management Plan for each location.

        Coach and mentor the Security Officer and local SFPs to fulfill his/her role.

        In coordination with the RD, develop an individual quarterly for the RSA which address the regional priorities set by the RD, DRD or the FSD.

        Chair quarterly monthly Safety and Security Management meetings with the other RSA.

        Identify training and refresher workshops to include security awareness as an essential part of program planning.

        Develop and engage Mercy Corps’ internal network of Security Focal Points and Security Managers


Training and Orientation: The RSA will support the country teams in 1) meeting our minimum standards in safety and security trainings including orientations, fire safety, first aid, on-line essentials and others. 2) Establishing a training plan that is appropriate for the country and risks. 3) Technical assistance in training delivery: budgets, curriculum, sourcing trainers and opportunities or similar. 4) Supporting the country SFPs in increasing their own training capacities. Maintaining a stock group of training materials. 5) working with regional leadership in sourcing & arranging specific trainings for the region including (example) crisis management scenarios for Country Directors and similar. To the extent possible, the RSA will be prepared to (or support) do pop-up trainings on demand for new programs. This is expected from our country SFPs as well.

Security Planning and Global Minimum Standards in Safety & Security: The RSA will help Country Directors and SFP achieve the required minimum standards in safety and security as outlined in our board-approved policy & basic duty of care measures. S/he will independently evaluate the operationalization of these standards and (in addition to support) provide the CD and RD with an assessment of our achievements and needs. S/he will support each SFP in establishing and adapting an SOP that is appropriate to the risks in the area and complete the steps of the entire risk management cycle.  This includes strategies of risk mitigation and evaluation of security planning so that it is appropriate and adequate for the environment.

Information Management: The RSA will ensure that each country is logging their security incidents and planning per policy (which is informed by our policy, liability & Duty of Care commitments) This includes monitoring and assurances that all requisite documentation is up to date and circulated or posted. The RSA will (in collaboration with the SFP and Country Director) monitor monitoring the security environment and stay abreast of the main trends and evaluate this within the context of Mercy Corps programming. The RSA will provide routine reports to the Director of Global Security so that the executive team and board are adequately informed of major trends, issues and incidents. The RSA will check and confirm the existence, quality (and provide support, as needed) the routine, security documentation such as self-audits, risk assessments and other essential documentation.

Technical support: The RSA must be able to do all the activities and requirements of an SFP. S/he will (from time to time) stand-in and support new country or area start-ups or other gaps in security. The RSA must be able to extend beyond the compliance of paperwork and give a meaningful evaluation and support to the security documentation and processes within a country program. S/he should add value, adequately assess and also fill gaps where an SFP may need additional assistance or consult. In short, Risk Assessment and Contingency Planning (& other documentation) should be both complete and also adequate for the time & location. The RSA will make field visits (6-8 per year) respond to emails and calls and review security plans, providing advice and feedback as appropriate.

Networking: The RSA will place high value on inter-agency coordination in security; encourage Mercy Corps field-level coordination in the NGO community; seek opportunities for formal and informal cooperation; develop a network of relationships with peers in the humanitarian community (UN, NGO, ICRC, appropriate governmental offices, etc); develop and engage Mercy Corps’ internal network of Security Focal Points and encourage inter-communications between them, and; pursue opportunities to engage others in our community in creative solutions to our security challenges through collaborative efforts.

General: The RSA does not have the authority to close programs, manage operations or evacuate staff so the effectiveness of the position will rely heavily on the incumbent’s ability to develop strong positive working relationships with the Country Directors, Security Focal Points, field staff, the regional team. S/he is expected to work at a peer-to-peer basis with country and regional staff in evaluating risks and opportunities for the agency. It is expected that (although this is an advisor role) s/he will work with the dedication of co-owning risks, dilemma and our programmatic our mission.


Supervisory Responsibility: This position will provide a technical, dotted-line supervisory role with the other African sub-regional, security advisors. This includes establishing priorities, scheduling and quality of work so that adequate and appropriate support is given to each country.


Accountability: To the Global Safety and Security policies which are captured and reported to both the ECRM and JARC. To the Africa Regional Leadership in terms of working on priorities.

Reports Directly To: Sr. Director of Global Security

Works Directly With: Country, Security Focal Points, Country Directors, Regional Program                             Director & Deputy RDs for Africa, Global Humanitarian Leadership and Response team, Global                             Supply Chain, HQ-based Program Officers.     



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

        Graduate degree in a relevant field preferred

        Minimum of five years’ field experience related to humanitarian response

        Substantial prior experience with adult learning and organizational development and training

        Minimum 2 years previous experience in NGO security management

Success Factors

The successful ESA-RSA will have strong communication and diplomacy skills.  As this is an advisory role, the ESA-RSA must focus on understanding the conditions and concerns of the various Mercy Corps field offices and respond to them in a way that meets local needs, while enhancing the security environment. S/he will not protect Mercy Corps staff per se, but will strive to empower our Country Directors and staff to better protect themselves.  It is imperative that the ESA-RSA have a clear understanding of, and willingness to work within the culture and mandate of humanitarian response.


Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The position is based in Nairobi, Kenya. Nairobi is an accompanied post for spouse and children. Nairobi is a major metropolitan center with world class healthcare and excellent education options. Mercy Corps provides expatriate staff with a housing allowance that covers rent, utilities, and security for comfortable accommodations in safe areas of the city. Telephone and internet access is available and there are dozens of excellent restaurants along with easy transport links to the rest of Africa and Europe.  Significant travel is expected with this position at 60% of the time to remote and insecure environments. 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. Staff 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.


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 and have signed on to the Interagency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. 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.