Deputy Country Director - Programs

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, EC, 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, Helmand, Badakhshan, Helmand, Samagan, Baghlan, Takhar and Herat.

General Position Summary

The Deputy Country Director (DCD) is directly responsible for all the programs inside Afghanistan. The DCD supervises four Directors of Programs and a Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. The DCD leads the implementation of relevant, innovative and adaptive programs in Afghanistan. To support effective programming the DCD ensures the existence of a fully-functioning and adaptive accountability framework providing real-time qualitative and quantitative measurements of Mercy Corps’ programs. The DCD is responsible for a forward looking business development strategy informed by regular engagements with donors, partners, peer organizations and coordination bodies. The DCD works closely with the Country Director (CD) and other senior members of the country program. The DCD creates a dynamic and stimulating relationships with all the technical and analytical resources within MC to develop programs in Afghanistan. The DCD engages widely with external stakeholders relevant to the Afghanistan context. The DCD represents Mercy Corps at the highest level and is able to articulate and deliver a strategic vision in line with the rapid evolution of the context and MC strategy in Afghanistan

Essential Job Responsibilities


  • Communicate a clear vision of present and future program goals and strategies to four Portfolio Directors, the Director of Monitoring Evaluation and Learning and other team members and stakeholders, translating into concrete work plans;
  • Contribute to countrywide strategy development and prioritize and organize actions and resources to achieve objectives set through those processes;
  • Follow analysis of the Afghanistan crisis and the impact of policy, political and military changes on the context, ensuring that this analysis is recognized and incorporated in planning for both short-term humanitarian and longer-term recovery and resilience programming;
  • Ensure that analytical and technical support teams are collaborating with program and other internal stakeholders effectively, adding value to the program and maintaining strategic focus;
  • Recognize opportunities for innovative action and create an environment where alternative viewpoints are welcomed.


  • Work closely with the Country Director and other senior managers to ensure that Mercy Corps strategy is understood and guides decision-making throughout the response;
  • Provide leadership to increase coordination, collaboration, communication and harmonization of Mercy Corps programming and operations inside Afghanistan;
  • Build consensus around a common vision of what shared success inside Afghanistan looks like, including development and tracking appropriate indicators;
  • Build consensus around priorities to improve the delivery of assistance inside Afghanistan and to make program strategies and frameworks more consistent across the response;
  • Oversight to ensure programs are able to meet donor and internal obligations on scope, time and budget, including efficient coordination on common program, operational and funding issues;
  • Facilitate sharing and learning across different Mercy Corps Afghanistan offices and support teams to incorporate learning from the response, and other regions, in project design and management;
  • Engage Afghanistan program leadership in ongoing context analysis that enables programs and teams to adapt to significant changes in the geopolitical/conflict environment;
  • Create and maintain systems to ensure efficient and transparent capture of program data for management decision-making and timely and informative internal and external reporting;
  • Create and maintain systems to ensure technical coherence and promote creative programming across the programs portfolio;
  • Take go/no-go decisions regarding pursuit of inside-Afghanistan funding opportunities and, in coordination with Country Director and other senior leadership, engage in strong regional-level representation with donors, international and local NGOs and networks;
  • Participate in shaping policy positions and advocacy messages pertaining to the overall humanitarian and development situation inside Afghanistan.


  • Support and guide the Director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning in establishing systems, policies and approaches necessary to ensure and demonstrate the quality of programs.
  • Ensure that proper Monitoring and Evaluation tools in line with Mercy Corps guidelines and policies are effectively used by the programs teams.
  • Ensure that all the programs staff have received trainings in line with their level of responsibility and receive technical support relevant to their programs.
  • Support the design of an Information Management System adapted to the Afghanistan programs needs and provide regular feedback to the IMS team to help improve it.
  • Contribute to the establishment of the adequate team of technical advisors to provide expert advice and ensure technical consistency across programs.


  • Track and review calls for proposals and identify opportunities that match Mercy Corps’ strategic interests in Afghanistan.
  • Coordinate with partner organizations and field program staff on proposal development and design, including gathering information for concepts and proposals and serving as primary drafter/editor of proposals and needs assessments.
  • Apply the agency’s best practices in proposal development efforts for institutional donors


  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence;
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback via regular performance reviews;
  • Supervise, hire and orient new team members as necessary;
  • Provide team members with information, tools and other resources to improve performance and reach objectives;
  • Contribute to country team-building efforts, help team members identify problem-solving options and ensure the integration of all team members into relevant decision-making processes.


  • Recognize the high level of donor scrutiny imposed on Afghanistan programming and ensure continuing effective, transparent and responsive compliance mechanisms are in place;
  • Maintain oversight of overall program budgets ensuring appropriate allocation of resources to meet program objectives;
  • Ensure adequate technical, analytical and administrative support for programs;
  • Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps regulations.


  • Represent Mercy Corps programs with national and international media and participate in community activities as appropriate;
  • Ability to work with formal and informal government structures and representatives, maintain and develop relevant and productive relationships with a wide range of stakeholders;
  • Maintain productive relationships with internal and external constituents such as private partners, local NGOs and civil society organizations and academic institutions;
  • Anticipate program needs, understand donor pool and contribute to shaping donor views on the evolving context and its impact on civilians in Afghanistan;
  • Explore, evaluate and present innovative funding opportunities that support program objectives;
  • Ensure that Mercy Corps maintain a high degree of risk awareness and impartiality;
  • Respect and understand differing cultural and ethnic differences and nuances and have the ability to navigate between them, recognizing the complexities involved;
  • Identify, build and manage collaborative partnerships with consortium partners, sub-grantees, donors, governments and other stakeholders.


  • Maintain oversight of access mechanisms to ensure Mercy Corps’ continued ability to access our most vulnerable and hard-to-reach beneficiaries;
  • Regularly review security analysis and plans to ensure programs alignment;
  • Coordinate with the Country Director on crucial events, high-risk periods, incident reporting and any security policy changes;
  • Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies;
  • Proactively ensure that team members operate in a secure environment and are aware of policies.


  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards 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 : 4 Portfolio Directors and Director of MEL


Reports Directly to: Afghanistan Country Director

Works Directly with: Country Senior Leadership Team, Regional Program and Technical Team, Headquarters Technical Support Unit, additional headquarters-based support departments as needed.

Knowledge and Experience

  • BA/S or equivalent in relevant field required, MA/S preferred;
  • At least ten years of senior-level leadership and management experience in large and complex programs including humanitarian operations, previous work experience in the South Asia and insecure environments preferred;
  • Substantial knowledge of the international humanitarian and development system, institutions and donors, and of compliance requirements, accountability frameworks and best practices; prior experience with funding from USG, DFID, EC and other leading donors;
  • Robust experience in developing, operationalizing, and implementing program strategies;
  • Demonstrated expertise in representation and negotiation resulting in securing significant new opportunities for the organization;
  • Demonstrated success working effectively and respectfully with host country government, private sector, INGO, NGO partners and other stakeholders in complex environments;
  • Experience leveraging Information Management Systems within programs to evaluate program outcomes;
  • Experience in managing strategic transitions from humanitarian to early recovery, social cohesion programs in a post- conflict transition phase;
  • Proven record in guiding the formulation of sectoral strategies in a rapidly evolving humanitarian context;
  • Highly-developed interpersonal and communication skills including influencing, negotiation and coaching;
  • Solid project management skills related to international, cross-functional teams;
  • Experience of solving complex issues collegially, defining a clear way forward, and utilizing best practices in management to ensure shared success;
  • Outstanding analytical and strategic thinking skills, with a focus on results and impact;
  • Excellent oral and written English skills required, proficiency in Arabic preferred.

Success Factors

The successful candidate is an opinionated, fast thinking, experienced leader. S/he has a thorough understanding of what is takes to deliver impactful programs in challenging environments. S/he is an excellent communicator who can inspire broad and diverse teams towards achieving a shared goal and drive a fast-paced and adaptive program. S/he is able to create a stimulating working environment encouraging innovation and accountability. S/he is a confident representative in public settings, able to speak up when needed to defend Mercy Corps’ positions and influence key stakeholders internally and externally to further and expand MC Afghanistan’s goals in the response. S/he is able to work effectively with an ethnically diverse team in a sensitive environment and prioritize team-building and capacity-building of national staff. S/he has excellent information management skills, is a strategic thinker. S/he has an outstanding ability to design, implement and manage innovative programs that respond to current needs and reinforce the future program structure of Mercy Corps in Afghanistan.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The Deputy Country Director position is based in Kabul, Afghanistan. This location is currently an unaccompanied position. Housing is individual accommodation within a secure guesthouse with limited freedom of movement beyond the house/office. This position requires (30% of time) of travel to field offices, some in insecure environments.

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.