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Director of Safety and Security



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

Mercy Corps has been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 2007, with a staff of approximately 400 people working in Eastern DRC and Kasai. Mercy Corps’ national office is in Goma with sub-field offices in North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Kasai provinces. Mercy Corps’ key programming areas include a combination of longer-term development and immediate humanitarian response programs in order to: 1) Improve water service delivery and ensuring equitable access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services, in urban and rural areas; 2) Improve food security and nutrition; 3) Promote diversified livelihoods, economic recovery and development. Mercy Corps DRC’s humanitarian programs aim specifically to assist populations affected by the conflict and crisis in Eastern Congo with multi-purpose cash assistance and emergency WASH support to displaced and host populations. 

The Position (General Position Summary)

The Director of Safety and Security is a member of the senior leadership team. His/her primary focus will be providing strategic oversight and direction to the security teams, managing operational mechanisms of organizational safety and security policies and ensuring processes are up-to-date, communicated and effectively practiced and rolled-out by team members. Our expectation is that these are responsive to the context, adequate for the circumstances and designed to enable the activities and works in the Mercy Corps DRC portfolio. A second priority for this role includes the planning and support to safe access and when necessary, negotiations, for the security of our teams, partners and communities. The third priority for this role is support to the Country Director and senior leadership team (SLT) in managing the broader scope of risks which Mercy Corps faces in the DRC.  In order to fulfill this role, the Director must maintain an acute awareness of the context and all threats as they relate to Mercy Corps operations. The Director is expected to understand all Mercy Corps DRC program activities across all operational areas, traveling regularly and frequently to the field bases and operations.

The Director will oversee a team of access and security officers and is expected to coordinate effectively with the Heads of Office / Area Managers in our six (6) locations as well as Mercy Corps’ Crisis Analytics Team (CAT Team). The Director will assist heads of Office (line managers) in prioritizing the time, effort and performance of local Field Security Officers. The Director is expected to travel across our six (6) offices and have an intimate knowledge of each program, major objectives, activities, constraints and team members. S/he is expected to find value and integrate the learnings and outputs from our conflict and analysis teams into an enhanced security culture at Mercy Corps. 

Essential Responsibilities


  • Stay informed and abreast of evolutions in the environment. This includes the acute changes and also long, contextual arc of political, security, and economic situations in the D.R. Congo.
  • Have a thorough understanding of the agency capacity and strategy. Stay abreast of the needs and humanitarian situation in the country. Understand and help define Mercy Corps’ role and added value.
  • Provide strategic oversight and leadership to the development and implementation of a security department strategy.
  • Ensure that all Mercy Corps documentation and security management processes are up-to-date and socialized, promoting the use of digital tools to streamline documentation + promote user-friendly information sharing.
  • Manage the performance and coordinate the time of the core security team travel and focus so that it adequately serves the program teams. Undertake regular field visits in order to meet with team members and gain an independent assessment of the situation and to look for solutions and any mitigating measures needed to protect staff, assets and partners.
  • Work closely with the Area Managers (and Heads of Office) to schedule and prioritize support requests, the achievement of basic minimum standards and other needs.
    • Maintain technical management & support of all security leads/staff for Mercy Corps DR Congo so that performance and priorities are clear and shared goals.
  • Accountable for ensuring adequate budgeting for security costs across all hubs in coordination with security leads and hub Directors. Identification of areas of need and solutions to address such.
  • Responsible for providing critical recommendations to the management of all DRC programs including the designation of Go/No-Go areas, location risk ratings and agency posture, acceptable levels of operational security risk and risk mitigation measures.
  • Support the Country Director and provide leadership on security aspects during crisis management situations. Work closely and collaboratively with other department leads and crisis management focal points.
  • Promote cross-department collaboration and communication between operations, programs, HR/Admin and other teams.
  • Foster a service-oriented, collaborative team culture.


  • The DSS is responsible for leading the development and update of all security procedures including standard operating procedures (SOPs) contingency plans (CPs), guidelines, planning for staff safety and operational security for all DRC offices. Importantly, this includes budgets and a country-wide training plans.
  • Ensure that security policies, guidelines, SOPs and plans are documented in a way that is user-friendly and that can be easily/regularly updated, maximizing the use of digital tools or technology to streamline.
  • Ensure the security management systems are specific to the needs of each hub/program but also productively consistent across the Country Program.
  • Evaluate, review and update the security management plans (SMPs), SOPs, CPs on a regular basis. Support and where needed lead the security risk assessment process for hubs/programs.
  • Work across teams to ensure the achievement of Mercy Corps minimum standards of Safety and Security.
  • Ensure that security risk assessments are carried out for all new and existing Mercy Corps DR Congo  operating areas. This includes from macro to micro assessments and assessments prior to any program activities in new areas of intervention.
  • Prepare annual outputs required of this department: budgeting, planning, implementation and monitoring of standard activities. This includes (as example) the equipment, trainings and other needs to ensure teams are prepared for crisis management, first aid, fire safety and other priorities. Planning should include the suite of on-line, Mercy Corps trainings available and prerequisite for all team members.


  • Accountable for ensuring all security related incidents are reported from hubs and the incident management system and incident log are updated.
  • Ensures the incident log and reporting system is updated in real-time to allow thorough planning and analysis. Facilitate lessons learned in cooperation with other departments after key incidents or learning opportunities.
  • During serious or critical incident management serve as an active member on the Mercy Corps DRC incident management team (IMT).
  • Prepare semi-annual reports and other requirements for reporting on global indicators. Be prepared to brief the in-country senior leadership and risk management teams at routine meetings and as requested.


  • Coordinate closely with program and operational teams for area and activity specific strategies. This should engage and make efforts to enhance our network of advocates and supporters within communities.
  • Cooperate and collaborate closely and regularly with the Crisis Analytics Team to integrate access, analysis and conflict trends into our planning, forecasting and programmatic thinking.
  • Provide regular updates and briefings to program and operational leads.
  • Ensure access issues, incidents and constraints are reported internally and through the UNOCHA reporting system.


  • Responsible for identifying training needs and developing adapted training plans on security topics (defensive driving, security SOPs, HEAT, etc.) for team members, drivers, guardians, and as appropriate other partners.
  • Conduct regular capacity building of security focal points, area managers, teams working in remote or high-risk areas, drivers, and guards.


  • Responsible for connecting the right managers with relevant analysis and data required for high-level decision making and will develop/maintain a network of trusted sources to enhance this capability.
  • Represents Mercy Corps with attendance at interagency security coordination meetings on behalf of Mercy Corps.
  • Engage in inter-agency coordination in security; ensure ongoing Mercy Corps field-level coordination in the NGO community, including INSO, with MONUSCO liaisons, etc.
  • In collaboration with the Country Director, communicate and coordinate with MC regional and global security leads regularly and notably during any critical incident or situations requiring support outside of the country office.


  • Adapt security strategies in remote management settings.
  • Effectively represent, promote and protect Mercy Corps’ mandate for independence, impartiality, and neutrality.
  • Any other duties which are not listed but are essential to the safety and security for Mercy Corps staff, property/material, and reputation.

Supervisory Responsibility

Two Goma-based security staff including a Security Manager. Indirect line-management to 4 field based security officers.


Reports Directly To: Country Director

Works Directly With: Senior Leadership Team, Area Coordinators (Heads of Office), Crisis Analytics Team, Program and Operations Management

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

Desired: Mercy Corps is seeking an individual with experience in Program Management in high risk environments or a role with similar responsibilities to effectively fulfill this role.

  • Alternatively, extensive experience in the security or management field that reflects 7-10+ years in team management and working at the senior leadership level is required.
  • Advanced level of understanding with the philosophy and mode of operation of NGOs. At a minimum, of 5 years field based experience in complex and insecure settings and preferably a conflict environment. Preferably, in more than one country with large teams of staff.
  • Experience working or managing a program that required humanitarian access negotiations and strategizing is highly desired.
  • Excellent organizational and follow-up skills required.
  • Positive attitude and energetic approach to working with teams required.
  • Proven written and analytical skills (sample may be requested).
  • Proven ability to use technology and digital tools to streamline management of security processes (policies, SOPs, etc.) and information sharing.
  • Highly developed interpersonal, collaboration and communication skills including influencing, negotiation and mentoring.
  • Willingness to work and travel frequently in often difficult and insecure environments.
  • Proven experience remotely managing staff in a matrix management environment.
  • Competency in online and Microsoft Office systems including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other online database/mapping systems.
  • Fluency in French or Swahili (both written and spoken) is required. Fluency in English is highly desirable.
  • Formal training qualifications (HEAT, K&R, Personal Security, First Aid etc).

Success Factors

Ability to see and communicate security trends at a local and regional level in a way that effectively increases our safety, security and ability to meet humanitarian needs. Maintaining strong, cooperative relationships with other departments is crucial. A successful candidate will have the ability to interact effectively with international and national personnel both in a managerial as well as training capacity and demonstrate the ability to multitask, meet deadlines, and process information in support of changing program activities. S/he will be able to live and work closely with a diverse team of individuals in a highly intense and fluid work and security environment and be willing to travel regularly to Mercy Corps field offices and project sites. The candidate will ensure a high degree of professionalism and neutrality when it comes to implementing the response.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This position is based in Goma, DRC and unaccompanied. Travel up to 40%.

The position is based in Goma, DRC and it requires travels to various locations within North and South Kivu, Ituri and Kasai. While conditions in the country are improving, there are still pockets of violence and insecurity and petty crime is present. Mercy Corps’ offices experience variable levels of insecurity, with the situation closely monitored by UN peacekeepers. Years of conflict and corruption have badly damaged the country’s infrastructure. Air travel is necessary to get from one end of the country to the other. Mobile phones and cellular service are widely available. Internet is limited, but available in all Mercy Corps’ offices. Travel to field sites will be required where living conditions are clean and secure, but basic. There are a number of health services available with several evacuation options for serious illnesses. There is reasonable access to most consumer goods.

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.

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.

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