BREAKWATER Conflict and Resilience Program Director - Mali

Programs Bamako, Mali


Position contingent on funding expected by end of January

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 Summary

The Program Director will lead the implementation of the multi-sectoral and multi-year BREAKWATER program. Running for four years, the overarching goal of BREAKWATER - Bolstering Rural Economies and Knowledge of Workable Actions to Enable Reconciliation in Central and Southern Mali - is to prevent the further spread of violent conflict in Central and Southern Mali. The program will do this by addressing contemporary and historical root causes of conflict in communities situated on the frontier between the relatively stable South and the most volatile parts of the Centre, working to overcome natural resource management challenges, the breakdown of inter-ethnic relations and traditional mechanisms for conflict resolution, economic drivers of conflict, and a broken social contract between citizens and the state. BREAKWATER will be implemented in partnership with International Alert and Humanity & Inclusion, and, will reach 60,912 beneficiaries/participants spread across an estimated 130 communities.

General Position Summary

The Program Director will provide overall leadership to the BREAKWATER program and lead its implementation, providing management and strategic vision to ensure that the program both meets its targets and deliverables on-time and within budget, and delivers impact in a challenging and fluid environment. The Program Director will supervise program staff, coordinate partner teams, and ensure accountability to Mercy Corps policies and donor rules and regulations and quality implementation. S/he will represent the program to donors, relevant government entities, partners, other implementers and stakeholders.  Given the complexity of the program – especially the unconventional combination of conflict prevention programming alongside community- and system-level work to offset economic and environmental drivers of human insecurity - the BREAKWATER program will commence with a 9-month inception phase and multi-sectoral assessment, providing an opportunity for the Program Director to closely with country-level leadership, Mercy Corps Mali MEL and Program members, HQ and Regional Technical Support teams and partner team members to ensure the further refinement BREAKWATER’s theory of change, processes and activities.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Strategy & Vision
  • Lead the development of a vision and strategy for the implementation of the BREAKWATER program, working closely with the overall Mercy Corps Mali program team, country leadership and partner team members
  • Play an active role in identifying and developing new initiatives that foster and/or improve strategic objectives of the program and the Mercy Corps Mali mission
  • Foster a culture of innovation and adaptive management across the diverse program team members, ensuring the coherency across outcomes and sectors and documenting and disseminating best practices
  • Work closely with the Deputy Country Director, Country Director, Conflict Program Manager and Humanitarian Program Director to ensure integration and coordination between the different conflict prevention, resilience, and humanitarian programs amongst Mercy Corps Mali’s country-level portfolio
Program Management
  • Oversee program start-up, management and administration. Lead the multi-sectoral assessment during the BREAKWATER inception phase, consisting of market assessment of selected sectors; conflict stakeholder and institutions mapping; natural resource management capacity assessment; and citizen-state relationship assessment. Lead the development of key deliverables from the inception phase, including the afore-mentioned reports, revised program logic, and the definition of key program parameter
  • Ensure program implementation is on time, target and budget, and using effective MEL systems to reach desired impacts.
  • Work closely with the Mercy Corps and H&I Gender and Disability Inclusion advisors to mainstream gender, diversity and inclusion throughout both the programmatic activities and the team itself
  • Ensure that program implementation is responsive to communities and partners and consistent with Mercy Corps’ relevant program guidelines, principles, values, quality standards and strategic plan.
  • Develop partnership frameworks, partner agreements/Memorandum of Understandings, and oversee partner capacity building.
  • Integrate community-led approaches, gender sensitivity, adaptive management and capacity building into all activities as appropriate.  Certify all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Gender Policy, Do No Harm principles, and beneficiary accountability standards.
  • Ensure program strategies and activities represent global best practice in terms of conflict prevention programming, resilience, and market system development
  • Coordinate with procurement, logistics, security, administration, and human resources teams to ensure operational systems support field activities.
  • Fulfill Mercy Corps’ Program Management Minimum Standards based on the organization-wide guide.
  • Work closely with the MEL Advisor to implement a strong and accountable monitoring, evaluation and learning processes. Work closely with the MEL Advisor and MEL Manager to support the implementation of Mercy Corps’ TolaData indicator tracking system within the BREAKWATER program
Team Management
  • Ensure the implementation of the program’s highly varied sectors and components – for example establishment of an Early Warning & Response system and community- and system-level work to support off-farm employment – are conducted fully aligned with each and in furtherance of the program’s overall strategic aim.
  • Lead on sequencing, integration and layering to ensure that the various program team members (e.g. agricultural team members, conflict prevention team members), MEL and partner teams do not conduct their activities in siloes
  • Foster a culture of adaptive management, trialing new approaches and systems
  • 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. Liaise closely with HQ and Regional Technical Support Unit members (from conflict, environment, markets, resilience and agricultural TSU, to name a few)
  • 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
  • Recruit, orient and lead team members as necessary.
Finance & Compliance Management
  • Ensure compliance with donor and Mercy Corps’ regulations.
  • Support Mercy Corps Mali’s Compliance and Finance Manager in ensuring partner organizations (International Alert and H&I) similarly comply with donor and Mercy Corps’ regulations
  • Create and maintain systems to ensure effective and transparent use of financial resources for timely and informative reporting in line with program, donor and Mercy Corps’ needs.
  • Lead monthly Budget vs Actual (BvA) reviews with in-country leadership, Compliance and Finance Manager, and consortium partners to ensure proper rates of expenditure.
  • Develop and periodically revise cost projections per activity and outcome with country leadership, finance and operations to ensure proper expenditure rates
Influence & Representation
  • Represent the BREAKWATER program at local, regional and national levels of government, state authorities and traditional authorities
  • Represent the BREAKWATER program amongst donor, NGO and other relevant events, in close coordination with the Country Director and Deputy Country Director. 
  • Lead the dissemination of the program’s research output at the national and regional level, in coordination with Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit
  • Coordinate activities with consortium partners, subgrantees, local government and other implementers, as well as with other Mercy Corps programs.
  • Work closely with the country team’s security focal point to develop and maintain systems that promote the safety and security of all team members, partner team members, and program participants
  • Ensure that programs are designed and implemented with a clear analysis and understanding of security.
  • Work with the Head of Operation to periodically update the risk analysis matrix, ensuring it is always fit for purpose
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 Beneficiaries
  • Work closely with the Bamako-based MEL Advisor to implement a strong community accountability and reporting mechanism (CARM) throughout the program

Supervisory Responsibility

Deputy Program Manager, Project Officers, Project Assistants


Reports Directly To: Country Director, Deputy Country Director

Works Directly With: MEL Advisor and MEL Manager; Conflict Program Manager; Humanitarian Program Director; consortium partner teams; Finance, Operations and HR teams, Gender Advisor, HQ and Regional Technical Support Unit

Knowledge and Experience

  • BA/S or equivalent in social science, management, international development or other relevant field [include technical fields as per program].
  • A minimum of 4 to 6 years of overseas experience including 3 years in a senior management position.
  • Strong skills and a track record in strategic visioning, leadership, and inspiring teams.
  • Effective personnel management, coordination, and decision-making skills, with proven ability to be accountable for all components of the program.
  • Competent in building networks, strong problem-solving skills, and ability to influence with effective listening, persuasion, negotiation and other techniques.
  • Internationally recognized qualification in project or program management or a commitment to obtain the qualification in the early months of work.
  • Demonstrated expertise in conflict prevention and peacebuilding programming, with additional experience in market systems development and/or resilient agriculture and livelihoods preferred
  • Demonstrated experience in managing large-scale, multi-sectoral programs and culturally diverse teams. Experience managing partners via a consortium a plus
  • Experience in Mali or the broader Sahel region
  • Demonstrated attention to detail, ability to follow procedures, meet deadlines and work independently and cooperatively with team members.
  • Fluency in French and proficiency in English required; proficiency in local languages (Bambara, Fulani) a strong asset
  • Strong communication skills; able to work in person and remotely with a geographically dispersed and culturally distinct teams

Success Factors

The successful Program Director will combine exceptional management skills, an innovative and energetic personality, and strong experience in maintaining donor and partner relationships.  S/he will have an outstanding ability to develop, implement and manage innovative programs 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 position is based in Bamako, Mali, and requires up to 50% travel to field bases inside Mali – primarily the Segou office, out of which the program will be centered - should security permit. The position is an accompanied posting. There may be additional international or regional travel, including to insecure and/or remote locations.

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.