Jun 9, 2016

Operational Safety Advisor–Asia

Employer: Mercy Corps
Location: Various locations in SE Asia


Mercy Corps works in some of the most demanding and difficult countries and regions of the world. Ethical and effective safety and security management are vital to in order to continue providing programing support to the most vulnerable.

Mercy Corps values inter-agency collaboration and approaches security through principles that have been developed in close cooperation with others in the humanitarian community. Among those principles are those embodied in the IFRC Code of Conduct and the centrality of community acceptance as the foundation piece of our security strategy.

The global security team at Mercy Corps is a key part of the agency’s overall, risk management mechanism and an integral part of field program operations. Mercy Corps’ acceptance-based security approach is supplemented with good information analysis, solid planning and tactical skills that adhere to our global security policies.

Mercy Corps' South and East Asia portfolio includes China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal and Timor-Leste. The SEA region is historically prone to natural disasters, including tsunamis, earthquakes, flooding, volcanic eruptions, monsoons and typhoons. Many of our South East Asia country programs, past and present, were initiated through a response to a natural disaster. Afghanistan and Pakistan are two of Mercy Corps’ oldest country programs and although they are also prone to significant natural disasters including flooding and earthquakes, they also have a higher risk rating that includes threats of terrorism and conflict.

Position Summary:

The Operational Safety Advisor-Asia will cover two administrative regions in Mercy Corps global portfolio; the seven countries in South and East Asia and the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, The Operational Safety Advisor will be responsible for reducing the risk exposure of Mercy Corps’ staff and programs by training and empowering our field offices to better assess and respond to safety and security threats. H/She may also support emergency preparedness planning process for the South East Asia region as appropriate.

Globally h/she advances best practices through safety and security management training, technical advice and support for improved assessment, analysis and planning and promotion of best practices for incident reporting. When not supporting the two regional portfolios, the Operational Safety Advisor Asia will be available to support Mercy Corps programs globally, in collaboration with the Director of Field Security.

The Operational Safety Advisor -Asia is a partner in carrying the burden of risk management through team building and training, careful planning of growth and expansion, program design, incident reporting and management, regional analysis and other activities. The Operational Safety Advisor-Asia will develop a deep understanding of the context and Mercy Corps teams. Depending on need, the Operational Safety Advisor Asia may supervise part-time emergency or security staff or support regional and country management with strategy, budgeting and forecasting for both natural and man-made crises.

Security Management:
Work closely with the Country Director or Representative in the implementation of their security and management plans and provide technical support and quality control of this process.
Provide operational and management-level support to each country’s security team as needed.
Conduct security audits and other checks to ensure the diligence of implementation and appropriateness in planning.
Advise on staffing, budgeting and other strategies.
Support new program initiatives with the design phase and technical documentation. S/he will ground truth local risk assessments and contingency planning – ensuring these are ready to be operationalized.
Ensure best practices in security incident reporting
Support incident management of all critical incidents and crisis situations. His/her support may be, from time to time, required to support the global portfolio.

Training and Orientation:
Work with the offices to ensure that all new staff hired at a regional, national or expatriate level, as well as official visitors to the region, receive a consistent and thorough security orientation upon hire/arrival in the region.
Provide technical support, coaching, quality control and checks to ensure this critical task is done.
Ensure that those deployed in extreme safety or security risk areas receive enhanced training on personal security, first aid and the specific threats in those areas.
During routine field visits, the Regional Operational Safety Advisor-Asia will also provide on-site training aimed at the special needs of staff, from guards and drivers to field managers, security focal points and program staff. The Regional Operational Safety Advisor-Asia may request from the Director of Field Security to access the global security budget to support with external consultants and other targeted and tactical support.
Direct one on one or strategic workshops may be done with regional management at a higher level and in a way that security and risk management is carried forward with effectiveness in program or operational works.
Support Mercy Corps at the global level and in other regions requiring additional support in the remaining 30% of his/her time.

Security Planning:
Provides quality control and technical support to promote and support efforts by field offices to meet management targets in security through effective planning and budgeting for security as needed.
Support the development and maintenance of current security plans in the consistent Mercy Corps format through the provision of planning workshops, training, and feedback on plans.
Maintain a file with all current security plans for both regions and make sure these plans are submitted to HQ for tracking on the dashboard.
Additional support may be required to other countries and initiatives as assigned.

Emergency Preparedness:
Support the country offices with Emergency Preparedness Planning and will work with the designated Emergency Focal points as appropriate.

Information Management:
Monitor the security environment in each country falls to the respective Country Directors and their in-country security focal points.
Ensure that field offices have access to good security information sources.
Maintain deep knowledge in the particular security challenges of each country
Ensure that a system of incident reporting and after-incident review is in place reflecting Mercy Corps global policy and protocol. It is the Safety and Security Advisor responsibility to report up critical incidents to the Director of Field security and RPDs (or their designated focal points).

Technical support:
Readily available at all times to the RPDs (or their designated focal points), the Country Directors, Security Focal Points and field staff to advise on security developments.
Bring additional expertise where needed in addition to field visits. S/he is expected to be available during times of critical incidents and will be a part of any Crisis Management team.

Representation and team collaboration:
Support field and regional teams with HQ and field-level coordination in the NGO community; seek opportunities for formal and informal cooperation;
Develop a network of support with peers in the humanitarian community.
Attend humanitarian and security gatherings and represent Mercy Corps as needed.
Develop strong positive working relationships with the Country Directors, Security Focal Points, emergency focal points, field staff, the RPD (and their designated focal points), the Humanitarian Leadership and Response team and the global security team to advocate change as needed through compelling presentation of risks, costs and benefits of enhanced security on program impact and effectiveness.

Organizational Learning

As part of Mercy Corps’ agency-wide Organizational Learning Initiative, all team members are responsible for spending 5% of their work time in formal and/or non-formal professional learning activities.

Accountability to Beneficiaries

Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts towards 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: Does not directly manage staff, but depending on assignments, may work closely with Security Focal Points who would have accountability to him/her in terms of quality and standards. The Operational Safety Advisor may also manage the outcomes of consultants.

ACCOUNTABILITY: RPDs (Afghanistan/Pakistan and South and East Asia) along with designated focal points assigned by the RPDs.

REPORTS DIRECTLY TO: Director of Field Security

WORKS DIRECTLY WITH: Regional Program Directors, Country Directors, Security Focal Points, Emergency Focal Points, other (Regional) Security Advisors, Humanitarian Leadership and Response team, Strategic Response and Global Emergency Team, HQ-based Program Officers.

BA/BS degree in a relevant field or equivalent work experience
five to seven years’ field experience related to safety and security
Minimum two years’ experience in humanitarian response
Prior experience with adult learning, mentoring, coaching, organizational development and training
Minimum 2 years previous experience in NGO security management
Strong program and project management skills required. PMDPro certified preferred.
Strong understanding of key humanitarian principles and good practices
Excellent verbal communication skills


The successful Operational Safety Advisor - Asia will have strong communication and diplomacy skills. The Safety and Security Advisor Asia must focus on understanding the conditions and concerns of the various Mercy Corps field offices and respond to them in a way that meets local needs, while enhancing the safety and security environment. S/he will not protect Mercy Corps staff per se, but will strive to empower our Country Directors and staff to better protect themselves primarily through building and supporting the capacity of the country teams. It is imperative that the Operational Safety Advisor - Asia has a clear understanding of, and willingness to work within the culture and mandate of humanitarian response. Much of this position is being present and available in the South East Asia and Af/Pac Region and globally as needed. Access and willingness to travel is a factor to success.


The position location is flexible within the Asia Region and requires ready access to the Afghanistan/Pakistan and South and East Asia region. . The benefits package eligibility will be determined depending on the specific location agreed with the candidate. Significant travel of 60% per year is expected with this position. Travel may include remote and insecure environments with living conditions that may be quite basic and may include accommodations in guest houses or group living.

Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit or temporary posting to a field posting. Staff 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.