Senior Technical Advisor – Seed Systems in Conflict-Affected and Humanitarian Settings

Mercy Corps

Marketing & Communications

Unspecified KSh Confidential
1 month ago

Job Summary


Job Description/Requirements


Location : Africa Region or Any other Mercy Corps locations

 Valid unrestricted work authorization in the country in which you will be based is required at the time of application for this position.

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 Summary 
Mercy Corps alleviates poverty, suffering, and oppression and works to build secure, productive, and just communities in over 40 countries around the world. Our Program Department supports field-led work that delivers measurable impact. Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU) is a key part of the Program Department. As technical experts in their field, TSU Team members are well versed in global practices and abreast of sector specific trends. They also represent Mercy Corps with donors and other strategic partners, and inform and influence both internal approaches and global understanding on how to move the needle on some of the most intractable humanitarian and development challenges of our time, especially in fragile settings. Mercy Corps’ Agriculture Systems TSU is looking for an experienced seed system technical advisor who has significant program and partnership management experience to lead on two seeds-related programs, ISSD Africa and PRO-WASH & SCALE (PWS).

The Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa () program is a four-year (2023-2027) award funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and led by Wageningen University and Research’s Center for Development Innovation (WCDI). The ultimate goal of ISSD is to enhance reliable access of male and female smallholder farmers to sufficient quantities of quality seed of desired varieties at an affordable price. In this phase, ISSD Africa will give specific attention to uniting international and African organisations and experts working on humanitarian, development and peace-building (HDP) interventions in Africa’s seed sector. Mercy Corps will lead two of four distinct, yet highly complementary, action learning projects, 1) Humanitarian seed response in fragile and conflict-affected states (partnering with SeedSystem) and 2) Seed business development in fragile contexts (partnering with IFDC).

The PRO-WASH and SCALE (PWS) Award is a four-year (2023-2027) USAID/Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA)-funded activity which aims to strengthen the design, implementation, and overall effectiveness of food and nutrition security activities in emergency, early recovery, risk reduction, and resilience settings. Key focus areas include capacity strengthening and localization; applied research, adaptation and knowledge management; and coordination and collaboration. Mercy Corps leads the agriculture, market systems, natural resource management and livelihoods components of the program, in collaboration with colleagues at Save the Children. Seed system interventions are a core element of many USAID/BHA-funded programs, throughout its emergency and early recovery, risk reduction, and resilience (ER4) programming.

The Position

Mercy Corps seeks an experienced seed system technical advisor who has significant program and partnership management experience. They will be responsible for the overall management and technical direction of Mercy Corps’ two ISSD action learning topics and the relevant seed system components of PWS. Both programs are founded in collaboration and consultation and will require working with various stakeholders such as other INGOs, local organizations, research institutions and donors.

The Senior Technical Advisor will lead the technical seeds-related activities for the two programs, including conducting desk reviews on seed-related activities in conflict-affected areas, particularly linked to peace building, and on challenges, benefits and gaps in private sector practices that could contribute to more resilient, inclusive and productive seed systems in fragile contexts; pilot-testing and refining tools and guidance materials , building off of the CAT and SERT developed under the last ISSD phase; forging new connections and partnerships with seed system actors; convening online and in-person events with diverse stakeholders such as policy makers, implementing partners, donors and private sector actors; and documenting and disseminating learning and tools .

Alongside technical activities, the Senior Advisor will be responsible for management oversight of the two ISSD Africa action learning projects. This will include leading on project strategy, partner coordination and management, technical implementation, hiring and managing technical consultants where needed, and reporting and budgeting.

Essential Job Responsibilities


Lead the implementation strategy development and refinement of Mercy Corps’ ISSD action learning projects, in collaboration with project partners and other relevant stakeholders Act as Mercy Corps’ lead point of contact with WCDI, including engaging in the ISSD Africa management meetings and representing Mercy Corps at partner events Work with PWS leadership on implementation strategy for emergency BHA partners, specifically focused on partners’ seed system priorities Identify opportunities for synergies with Mercy Corps’ seed system activities


Ensure that program implementation is responsive to implementing partners and consistent with Mercy Corps’ relevant program guidelines, principles, values, quality standards and strategic plan. Manage the workplan, budget and reporting for Mercy Corps’ two ISSD action learning projects Lead on procurement processes, recruitment, and contracting of consultants, sub-awardees and other vendors Manage project partnerships (SeedSystem and IFDC) and relevant consultants, ensuring clear communication, roles and responsibilities and completion of deliverables on time and within budget Ensure delivery of action research, knowledge sharing and learning activities on time, target and budget, using effective M&E systems to reach desired impacts.. Ensure all interventions adhere to Mercy Corps’ Gender Policy, Do No Harm principles, and beneficiary accountability standards 


Contribute to influential analysis and derive new insights from desk reviews, assessments and pilot tests; incorporate those results and best practices into learning documents, practical tools or other outputs. Technical focus areas may include: seed systems in conflict-affected areas; private sector practices that could contribute to more resilient, inclusive and productive seed systems in fragile contexts; linking seed system interventions with resilience design and related outcomes (e.g., nutrition, food security); and anticipatory action and scenario planning for seed activities. Lead online and in-person technical consultations to harness learning and share best practices and lessons learned; document learning and develop guidance documents/tools based on lessons learned; and facilitate knowledge sharing events with relevant stakeholders. Forge new connections and partnerships with seed system actors; Document and disseminate learning and tools widely to ensure best practices are shared, endorsed and utilized amongst relevant stakeholders 


Manage the M&E system for Mercy Corps’ two ISSD Africa action learning projects; externally, this will include tracking key indicators (through collating documentation and annual or end-of-project surveys with project stakeholders) for reporting to WCDI; internally, this will include ensuring data is entered into Mercy Corps’ online tracking system and annually reporting on participant counts. Contribute to PWS’s M&E and report systems, as relevant and when needed


Ensure compliance with donors and Mercy Corps regulations. Work closely with finance officer to ensure ISSD budget is managed effectively, on time and within scope. Communicate effectively to ensure overall program targets and donor obligations are met. 


Identify, build and manage strategic partnerships with SeedSystem, IFDC, other ISSD Africa partners, USAID, as well as with networks and stakeholders. Represent both programs and Mercy Corps with different stakeholders, in relevant practitioner and learning networks and at key events, as well as through developing industry wide papers, conference presentations, and online fora. Build external visibility on relevant technical areas.

Supervisory Responsibility

The position will supervise consultants and sub-awardees, including the technical partners engaged in ISSD Africa. They may occasionally supervise interns and/or volunteers on special assignments.


Reports Directly To: Director of Agriculture Systems TSU

Works Directly With:  PWS Technical Director, Agriculture Advisors and other team members; Agriculture Systems and other relevant TSU team members, Mercy Corps country program teams in priority countries; Wageningen University and Research and other ISSD Africa Partners; SeedSystem; IFDC; Save the Children; and IDEAL, PRO-WASH, REAL, PCS and other USAID/BHA learning award staff.

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

At least 4 years of experience implementing emergency projects with a focus on seed system development and/or technically leading or advising on seed system interventions. Advanced degree at master’s level or above in a field relevant to agriculture or international development, or at least 7 years of relevant work experience. Demonstrated program management experience, including budget management and multi-partner, multi-country coordination experience Demonstrated strong theoretical and applied technical expertise in formal and informal seed system development; practical experience with seed system assessments, strongly preferred. Demonstrated strong theoretical and applied knowledge of market-based programming, including using integrated approaches and applying systems thinking, preferred. Experience developing knowledge sharing strategies, learning tools, and leading/facilitating learning events. Demonstrated ability to engage stakeholders at different levels from various agencies to collate learning and develop frameworks for implementation. Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills and the ability to develop collaborative relationships Strong presentation and communication skills in English required. Willingness and ability to travel to Mercy Corps project sites and field locations, including traveling to insecure environments, is required. Fluency (written and verbal) in English is required; working knowledge (verbal) of French is preferred.

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