Mercy Corps

Science & Data Lead (Climate and Geospatial Services)

Mercy Corps

Job Description

Position pending funding - expected start date October 2021

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

Mercy Corps has been working in West Africa since 2005, providing humanitarian and development assistance to improve food security, livelihoods, and conflict management. We contribute to inclusive and equitable development in the region by responding to immediate humanitarian needs, building resilience to climate change, and strengthening peace and social cohesion. Mercy Corps’ vision for change requires that the private sector, government and civil society work together to create meaningful and sustainable change.

Mercy Corps is seeking a Science & Data Lead to coordinate technical activities under the anticipated five-year, USAID-funded SERVIR West Africa 2 Activity—part of SERVIR Global, a joint development initiative of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 2005, SERVIR has been working in partnership with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to co-develop and use information provided by Earth Observation satellites and geospatial technologies.

The goal of SERVIR West Africa 2 is to increase the ability of local, national, and regional institutions to apply geospatial Analysis to improve decision making and management of resources to improve the resilience of countries in the region, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and ensure appropriate land use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SERVIR West Africa 2 will implement activities in Niger, Burkina Faso, and other West African countries as determined by programmatic need.

General Position Summary

The Science & Data Lead will provide technical leadership and expertise in use of geospatial and climate data for development planning and policy decision making. They will play a critical role in supporting West African institutions to improve their access, use, and management of geospatial and climate information to make informed decisions in four thematic areas: food security and Agriculture; water and hydro-climatic disasters; weather and climate; and land cover, land use change, and ecosystem services. Drawing on earth observation data and geospatial technologies, they will contribute to the development of analyses, tools, and services that will promote Sustainable Land Management and climate risk reduction in the region.

The Science & Data Lead will coordinate technical activities in target countries in West Africa to ensure that the program meets its targets and deliverables on time and within budget. They will coordinate with SERVIR West Africa 2 program staff and ensure accountability to Mercy Corps policies and donor rules and regulations. The Science & Data Lead will support the Chief of Party as a program representative to donors, relevant government entities, and other stakeholders. The position will involve frequent travel within West Africa to engage with partners and stakeholders.

Essential Responsibilities

Geospatial Service Design and Delivery: ● Provide scientific and technical leadership for the development, testing, and improvement of user-tailored geospatial support services (such as decision support tools, applications, models, and training) to get critical information to decision makers throughout the region, in collaboration with NASA and other international scientists.

● Coordinate the scientific and technical elements of service design and delivery activities in line with SERVIR West Africa 2’s Theory of Change, Strategic Approach, and Intermediate Goals.

● Deliver Capacity Building to SERVIR West Africa 2 partners including training, technical assistance, and planning support, in collaboration with other senior program staff.

● Support user consultation and provide Technical Support for the development of user needs assessments, including stakeholder Mapping and service idea generation.

● Help organize program staff to implement the activities set out in the program’s work plan for service design and delivery, to ensure that service delivery progresses in a timely manner.

● Implement a data sharing and open data strategy for the consortium.

● Support the integration of a gender and local community lens into all service design and delivery, in coordination with the support of the Chief of Party and Gender Advisor.

● Coordinate technical engagement with NASA including participation in SERVIR West Africa 2 activities, such as user needs assessment and service design and delivery.

Representation: The following responsibilities will be jointly held among SERVIR West Africa 2’s leadership team and will involve close coordination among senior program staff.

● Represent SERVIR West Africa 2 to governmental and non-governmental stakeholders in the region.

● Build and manage strong and productive partnerships with NASA, USAID, and consortium partners to facilitate learning and knowledge exchange.

● Participate in regular review meetings with NASA and USAID to communicate the program’s outputs, outcomes, and impact.

● Promote SERIVR West Africa 2 with relevant stakeholders, the donor community, and the general public in target countries, in line with the program plans.

Operations: ● Comply with USAID and program requirements including attendance at meetings, development of project deliverables, reports and plans, and respond to ad hoc information requests.

● Take into consideration inputs and recommendations from the program’s Gender Advisor.

● Coordinate with the User Engagement Lead to deliver services with consortium partners.

● Support MEL staff in their responsibilities to monitor, evaluate, and learn from program activities, outputs and outcomes.

Supervisory Responsibility

May be required to supervise small teams of technical staff. The number of direct and indirect reports is to be determined.


Reports Directly To: SERVIR WA 2 Chief of Party Works Directly With: The SERVIR WA 2 team, HQ Technical Support Unit, consortium institutions and partners

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

Proven record including: ● Minimum seven years of relevant experience developing user-driven geospatial information services, such as tools, databases, models, applications, or associated training.

● Experience leading scientific and technical teams to deliver geospatial services; experience leading cross-cultural and/or distributed teams desirable.

● Collaboration with scientists across SERVIR West Africa 2’s thematic/technical areas.

● Productive engagement with government agencies or other clients/users of geospatial information Desirable experience: ● Relevant experience in West Africa and/or with multi-Country Programs preferred.

● Software expertise for spatial analysis and data management including Google Earth Engine, Colab, Tensorflow, Collect Earth Online, SNAP, Tethys, Geoserver, R, Jupyter Notebooks, QGIS.

● Programming expertise in Javascript, R, Python.

● Familiarity with USAID rules, regulations, and requirements a plus.

Other requirements: ● MA/S or equivalent in Geography, GIS, Natural Resource Management, Remote Sensing, or other relevant field; PhD preferred.

● Strong written, presentation and verbal communication skills in English and French required.

Success Factors

A successful Science and Data Lead will combine deep technical skills in geospatial data and technology with experience collaborating with and supporting a variety of stakeholders from the public and private sectors. Must be flexible, creative, and enthusiastic about leveraging data and technology to inform policies and planning that improve risk management and enhance resilience. Candidates must be self-starters who are able to prioritize competing priorities, learn quickly, take initiative, and be accountable for results. They will also have proven experience with cross-cultural teams and capacity building. 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

This position will be based in Niamey, Niger. This is an accompanied position and housing is available in individual accommodation with freedom of movement. There are international schools (French and American) in Niamey and the city provides good access to most consumer goods. There are a number of good health facilities, but serious illnesses will require evacuation. During the hot season, Niamey is affected by very high temperatures and frequent power outages. This position requires up to 25% travel by plane and/or vehicle to field offices in relatively secure but climatically challenging environments in Niger, Burkina Faso, or other countries in West Africa. This position is eligible for R&R but not hardship pay.

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.

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.

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