Senior Water Security Advisor – Technical Support Unit- HQ

  • Location:
  • Salary:
    negotiable / YEAR
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  • Posted:
    4 weeks ago
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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 Department

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. TSU subject-matter experts help set agency strategy and provide consultation – from assessment and design through project implementation and results measurement – to field offices worldwide, in some of the world’s toughest places. TSU team members lead research, foster organizational learning, represent Mercy Corps to external audiences, and develop partnerships. The TSU is also integral to global business development and revenue.

The Position

In 2022, Mercy Corps completed its new 2030 Global Strategy. The new strategy elevates Water Security to one of four key outcome areas for the agency, along with Food Security, Economic Opportunity, and Peace and Governance. This new focus combines Mercy Corps’ historical strengths in emergency WASH programming, with a desire to further build upon our impact in water resource management, productive water, and market-based water supply and sanitation service provision as part of the agency wide mission to build resilient and inclusive communities. In close collaboration with the Water Security Director, Senior WASH Advisors, Senior Water Security Advisor, country and regional teams, and other TSU members, the Senior Water Security Advisor is responsible for executing and further shaping the water security strategy inclusive of its growing research agenda and programing.

As a Senior Water Security Advisor, you will play a lead role in building and managing our water security research agenda under the newly awarded USAID Fragile Waters Activity focused on improving water security programming and water supply and sanitation service delivery in fragile contexts. You will work collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders to design, implement, and evaluate research and learning initiatives and country-level buy-ins that support and better inform Mercy Corps’ innovative global projects and programs aimed at strengthening water supply and sanitation service delivery and water security in diverse contexts worldwide.

The Senior Water Security Advisor will be responsible for helping country and program teams design and conduct assessments, analyze their water security issues, and identify opportunities and solutions for intervention. Initial efforts will focus on two priorities: i) supporting the development of research initiatives and local actor capacity building programing to inform more effective water security programming in fragile contexts and; 2) collaborating with country teams to develop and operationalize water security strategies to build their water security portfolios that align local needs with global best practices. This will involve supporting the development of country- or region- specific water security approaches, proposals, concept notes, donor engagement, producing influence-oriented research and writing products, and leading knowledge and capacity strengthening initiatives. You will provide technical expertise and guidance to project teams, partners, and program participants on various aspects of water security, including water resource planning, water use efficiency, watershed management, market-based water supply and sanitation service delivery, private sector engagement, and water infrastructure governance and sustainable financing. Additionally, you will actively contribute to policy development and advocacy initiatives related to water security at global, regional, and national levels.

Success in this role will require a deep understanding of global water security challenges, along with proven experience in facilitation of global water security research and learning activity design and implementation. The successful candidate will possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as excellent communication and facilitation abilities. The ability to work effectively with diverse stakeholders, from government agencies to local communities, will be crucial. Moreover, the Senior Water Security Advisor should demonstrate a commitment to promoting gender equality, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability in all water security interventions.

This is an exciting opportunity to join a dynamic and growing team dedicated to making a tangible impact on global water security. The position offers the chance to work on complex and multifaceted projects, contribute to knowledge sharing and capacity building, and shape policies and interventions that positively impact the lives of vulnerable people and communities worldwide. If you are passionate about water security and possess the required expertise, we invite you to apply and become part of our mission to create a more secure and sustainable water future.

Essential Responsibilities


  • Manage, track, and technically contribute to Mercy Corps’ Fragile Waters core and buy-in activity implementation. This may include:
  • Support the development and/or review of technical deliverables and contribute to subsequent learning;
  • Manage relationships with the Fragile Waters consortium partners and Mercy Corps field teams and home office teams. This includes serving as the project point of contact for the duration of Activity;
  • With support from Mercy Corps project support teams, lead on all operational matters related to Mercy Corps’ Fragile Waters core and buy-in activities, including but not limited to MEL, reporting, financial, and contractual;
  • Ensure all activities are managed in accordance with USAID regulations and Mercy Corps procurement policies;
  • Liaise with implementing partners to ensure proper M&E data capture and data quality contribute to overall Fragile Waters project M&E reporting; and
  • In tandem with relevant technical staff, generate buy-in scopes of work and budgets as needed.
  • Support the implementation of water security programs and projects, ensuring technical quality and strong program performance.
  • Provide technical guidance and support to project teams, partners, and partner communities on water security-related issues, including integrated water resources management, water use efficiency, watershed management, productive water, and market-based water and sanitation services delivery.
  • Facilitate regular coordination and communication among country and project stakeholders, fostering collaboration and shared learning.
  • Work with the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) team and the field to ensure that monitoring and evaluation is practical and reflects best practices.
  • Support the development of monitoring and evaluation frameworks to measure impact and drive adaptive learning and management.
  • Take leadership in identifying and addressing program quality needs. Collaborate with field leaders to problem solve.
  • Help set approaches, strategies and execute plans to address agency-wide program quality needs together with the Director.


  • Support the design and development of water security programs and projects, ensuring alignment with organizational goals and strategies, donor requirements, and best practices.
  • Lead the design of country level strategy processes to build a vision for teams seeking to grow their water security program portfolio.
  • Support country and project teams in designing and conducting thorough needs assessments and analysis to identify priority areas for intervention and develop evidence-based program strategies.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams to design innovative and context-specific approaches that address water security challenges, considering social, economic, and environmental dimensions.
  • Ensure integration of gender equality, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability principles into program design and implementation.
  • Lead and contribute to the development of high-quality proposals, including providing technical inputs, conducting research, and drafting program narratives and budgets.
  • Contribute to agency-wide initiatives such as the research agenda around water security.



  • Develop a comprehensive research strategy that complements and aligns to Mercy Corps’ ongoing and future global programming. This involves defining research priorities, methodologies, and timelines to ensure the effective execution of research activities.
  • Lead the design and execution of rapid analyses and assessments in fragile contexts. This includes conducting/overseeing fieldwork, gathering data, and analyzing findings to provide timely insights into water security challenges.
  • Oversee data collection and/or analysis efforts, ensuring the use of appropriate research tools and techniques. Analyze research data rigorously to identify trends, challenges, and opportunities for water security programs.
  • Foster collaborations with Mercy Corps country teams, other implementing partners, local organizations, academic institutions, and experts to enhance research capabilities and access valuable local insights.
  • Prepare comprehensive research reports, publications, and presentations that communicate research findings to both internal and external stakeholders. Ensure that research outputs contribute to evidence-based decision-making.
  • Based on applied research and learning, provide technical guidance and support to address evolving water security needs in fragile contexts, ensuring responsive and effective interventions.
  • Promote learning and knowledge sharing among project teams and partners, documenting, and disseminating best practices, lessons learned, and innovative approaches.
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of research and learning initiatives, using feedback and data to refine and improve strategies for maximum effectiveness.
  • Utilize research findings and learning outcomes to inform adaptive management practices. Support projects to adjust interventions based on evidence and evolving contexts.
  • Maintain a repository of research findings, best practices, and lessons learned. Ensure that project knowledge is organized and easily accessible to inform future decision-making and programming.


  • Identify capacity development needs of regional- and country-level partners and project teams. Develop appropriate training materials and capacity building plans.
  • Conduct capacity assessments, facilitate training workshops, and provide technical mentoring and coaching to enhance the knowledge and skills of Mercy Corps staff and partners in water security.
  • Lead the development of water security-related tools and guidance notes to help better enable country teams to grow their water security portfolios and engage with donors and potential partners.
  • Support the development and implementation of knowledge management systems to ensure the effective capture, organization, and sharing of water security-related knowledge and experiences.
  • Foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the organization and among project teams.


  • Contribute to the development and implementation of advocacy strategies and campaigns to raise awareness and mobilize support for water security issues at global, regional, and national levels.
  • Engage with relevant stakeholders, including government agencies, NGOs, national and international level coordination bodies, and research institutions, to promote policy changes and influence decision-making processes related to water security.
  • Represent the organization at conferences, workshops, and other events, sharing knowledge and expertise on water security topics.
  • Build strategic partnerships and networks to leverage resources and enhance the organization’s influence in the water security sector.
  • Stay updated on emerging trends, research, and policy developments related to water security and integrate them into advocacy efforts.

Supervisory Responsibility

The position has supervisory responsibility over interns and/or volunteers.


Reports Directly To: Water Security Director.

Works Directly With: Water Security, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WSSH) team, all other TSU teams, HQ, and field teams.

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 Qualifications & Transferable Skills


  • Bachelors’ degree in economics, business, environmental economics, environmental management, water resources management, hydrology, international development, or a related field.
  • At least 5 years of progressive experience in water security that includes:
  • Designing, implementing, and/or evaluating water security programs and projects.
  • Preparing writing and analysis for proposal development.
  • Producing and publishing influential articles and blogs.
  • Supporting or leading all aspects of large and complex proposals and managing integrated proposal teams.
  • Demonstrating strong theoretical and applied knowledge of the field of expertise.
  • Using integrated approaches and applying systems thinking.
  • At least 3 years of experience in supporting and managing research projects in international development contexts.
  • In-depth understanding of global water security challenges and relevant frameworks, policies, and guidelines related to water security, such as the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, and the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management
  • Demonstrated experience in designing, implementing, and evaluating water security programs and projects.
  • Excellent analytical, problem-solving, and facilitation skills.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills in English.



  • Advanced degree (masters or PhD) in economics, business, environmental economics, environmental management, water resources management, hydrology, international development, or a related field.
  • Strong technical knowledge and practical experience in integrated water resources management.
  • Practical field experience in diverse geographic settings, typically over the course of 2 years, that includes:
  • A combination of successful temporary duration field assignments (under two weeks), longer-term field assignments (two or more weeks), and/or living in a field location for an extended period to work in a country or field office.
  • Strong knowledge of water security, WASH and humanitarian-development coherence.
  • Proven ability to conduct rapid assessments and analyses in fragile contexts.
  • Strong business development experience and track record with non-traditional donors, such as foundations or corporations.
  • Experience conducting emergency response assignments or other crisis response work that demonstrates the ability to successfully adapt support and assistance methodologies to real-world complexities.
  • Managing and implementing successful programs in the field.
  • Delivering capacity building curriculum or other processes for field teams
  • Working-level proficiency in French, Arabic, Spanish, or other relevant language.
  • Experience working with government agencies, NGOs, community groups, and private sector partners.
  • Knowledge of monitoring and evaluation methodologies.
  • Understanding of social inclusion, gender equality, and environmental sustainability principles in water security programming.

Success Factors

The successful candidate with be able to demonstrate the ability to think strategically and translate ideas into practical actions. They will possess strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively in multicultural teams and across various organizational levels. The candidate will have a level of emotional intelligence that quickly builds and maintains productive relationships across teams. They will have a proven ability to influence donors, partners, and peer organizations toward innovative programs and best practices. They will be comfortable adapting and have resilience to working in a dynamic and fast-paced environment.

To be successful the candidate will be results-orientated with a commitment to delivering high quality work within established timelines. Moreover, they will have excellent organizational and multitasking skills, with a keen attention to detail and be able to conduct themselves with integrity, professionalism, and a strong commitment to the organization’s mission and values. Lastly, they will have commitment to promoting gender equality, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability in water security programming.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position has locations in Washington, D.C., OR Portland, Oregon; Bogota, Colombia; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and London/Edinburgh, UK. The position requires travel at least 30% time to the field where living conditions may be exceptionally rugged or in volatile environments where security protocols will need to be strictly followed. Team members must be ready to deploy to field environments on short notice in response to any emergency or crisis. When in the field the team member must be able to work in remote settings, over weekends and/or evenings as required by the schedule, and in settings with limited infrastructure, food options, and living conditions.

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 and have signed on to the Interagency Misconduct Disclosure Scheme. 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.

As a safeguarding measure, Mercy Corps screens all potential US-Based employees. This is done following the conclusion of recruitment and prior to assuming full employment.

Our screening process is designed to be transparent and completed in partnership with new Team Members. You will have the opportunity to disclose any prior convictions at the conclusion of the recruitment process before the check is initiated. We ask that you do not disclose any prior convictions in your application materials or during the recruitment process.

Covid-19 Vaccine Policy for US-Based Employees

Mercy Corps has determined that, in an effort to protect the health, safety, and well-being of all Mercy Corps employees working in the United States, all U.S.-based employees must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, regardless of prior COVID-19 infection status. This policy is necessary to ensure not only the safety of our workforce, but the ongoing functionality of the organization.

This policy will be revised as needed to comply with federal, state, and local requirements, and to respond to changing guidance from public health authorities.

For new employees this requirement goes into effect within 10 business days of employment. Team members that travel are expected to comply with host-country requirements, including vaccinations. Failure to comply may impact your employment. Proof of vaccination or exemption must be provided.

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