Research, Design and Strategic Learning Lead Vacancy

  • Contract
  • Full Time
  • Nairobi

Mercy Corps

Research, Design and Strategic Learning Lead-Kenya
Monitoring and Evaluation Nairobi, Kenya

**Position is contingent on new 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 anticipates applying for funding for a five-year USAID Food for Peace Activity to support agriculturalists, agro-pastoralists, and pastoral households living in Northern Kenya. The program will be an integrated food security activity with a goal of achieving food security in the target counties in Kenya, through community level governance, preventing chronic malnutrition, sanitation and hygiene and sustainable livelihoods.

General Position Summary

The Research & Design and Strategic Learning Lead will be responsible for formative research activities, collaboration, and learning across all projects those results in locally adapted programmatic approaches for reducing acute malnutrition. The researcher must be proficient in creative and rigorous research design, familiar with relevant measurement approaches, and experienced in translating evidence into improved practice. S/he will ensure the program results in intentional and adaptive learning, and that findings are disseminated broadly. S/he will be responsible for improving peer-to-peer learning, knowledge sharing and application, activity-based capacity strengthening, evidence and data utilization, and collaborating, learning and adapting (CLA). This position will play a key role in helping build an environment of evidence-based programming and adaptive management at all levels.

Essential Job Responsibilities

Provide technical leadership to formative research activities, refinement of the Theory of Change, and development of a locally adapted programmatic approach to reducing acute malnutrition
Facilitate active, intentional, and adaptive learning within and across the program’s multi-sectoral activities.

Ensure appropriateness and rigor of research methods and that program quality standards are adhered to.
Oversee data collection and analysis and ensure research results are useful and applicable for making program design decisions.
Lead refinement of the Theory of Change and ensure that Phase 1 research and pilot findings are incorporated into sound, evidence-based programmatic design for the Phase 2 Transition Plan and Phase 2 Implementation.
Coordinate and collaborate with research staff, the Technical Steering Committee and Government of Kenya and USAID stakeholders and partners.
Develop the program’s learning agenda, including surveys, case studies and other tools to evaluate program impact, trends and lessons. Provide comprehensive analysis of learning outcomes to inform program interventions.
Establish systems and methods for active, intentional and adaptive learning within and across the program’s multi-sectoral activities.
Set up a system of regular program quality audits.
Organize and/or lead regular training and other capacity building events for program staff to improve program quality, and support other departments to take the lead in developing and implementing capacity-building activities to improve program management processes.
Work directly with the leadership team to plan, design, and or/manage specific CLA strategies and activities, such as supporting incorporation of technical, contextual and experiential learning into technical strategies, interventions, and processes.
Proactively support learning and information sharing across geographies, program purposes, and other awards and with other implementers.
Support the creation of an evidence-based learning culture through consistent analysis of lessons learned and best practices to encourage adaptive management.
In coordination with the M&E team, disseminate research and evaluation findings to program team and stakeholders.
Contribute to program visibility and advocacy work by assisting in dissemination of program research and learning information. Represent Mercy Corps in research and learning forums with the broader humanitarian and development community.

Develop and oversee implementation of capacity building strategy for team members that promotes a culture of learning through systematic analysis and reflection of program data and lessons learned.
Assist team members with information, tools and resources to improve performance and reach objectives.
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.
Hire, orient and lead team members as necessary.

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.
Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward 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
DFSA Program Team
Reports Directly To: Chief of Party
Works Directly With: Sector leads/senior managers, field teams, MEL team, finance and operations team, partner organizations, other implementers, Mercy Corps HQ Research & Learning and Performance and Quality Teams

Knowledge and Experience
Ph.D. in development studies, international relations, agriculture, nutrition, public health or related discipline with minimum 3 years applied research experience (or Master’s degree with over 5 years of research experience in international humanitarian and development programs).
At least 5 years of experience working in international development or humanitarian aid, including at least 2 years in the field.
Knowledge of the latest thinking and methods in the field of applied research and impact evaluation of humanitarian and development programs, with a focus on food security.
Demonstrated skills with quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, including experience with experimental and quasi-experimental research designs.
Proficiency using SPSS, STATA, or other statistical analysis package.
Extremely strong writing skills, including past experience publishing.
Demonstrated ability to communicate research to multiple audiences, including policy makers, practitioners and academics.
Familiarity with the concept of adaptive management/CLA, and demonstrated experience using a mix of informational sources and research methods to analyze the program’s progress, communicate findings to a range of external and internal stakeholders, and apply learning to work planning.
Experience providing leadership, supervising staff, managing multiple complex program components, and convening people across technical teams to build consensus and achieve an outcome.
Preference for experience with USAID-funded programs.
Experience in the Kenya or Horn of Africa required and Kenya national preferable.

Success Factors
The successful Research, Design and Strategic Learning Lead will have a demonstrated ability to lead and communicate effectively with team members and other stakeholders of varied work styles and cultures, follow procedures and meet deadlines with flexibility and creativity in planning and problem solving. S/he will have a proven ability to learn quickly, multi-task, prioritize, take initiative, and be accountable for results, understand the larger picture while remaining focused on the details, problem solving, work within a complex and sensitive setting and to follow laws and security protocols. The most successful Mercy Corps team 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

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

The Research, Design and Strategic Learning Lead is based in Nairobi with 50%+ travel to implementation areas. The location is accompanied and secure. Housing is individual accommodation with unlimited freedom of movement beyond the house/office. There are numerous International schools in Kenya. Staff have a relatively high degree of access to health and utility services (hospitals, clinics, electricity, water, etc.). This position requires frequent travel by road and air to field offices in less secure environments, where basic amenities are lacking (no running water, and limited electricity without generators). 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 Mercy Corps’ 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.

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