The Ford Foundation West Africa Office, based in Lagos, Nigeria, seeks a dynamic, collaborative, innovative and multi-talented Program Officer to help drive and shape the Foundation’s international work on Natural Resources and Climate Change (NRCC), which includes the extractive sectors (mining and minerals, oil, gas, land, forests) and efforts to promote transparency and accountability across these sectors. They will work in collaboration with the West Africa office’s program team and with stakeholders in government, civil society, private sector and other donor agencies active in the region.
The ideal candidate should have proven expertise in and knowledge of natural resources and climate change issues, including illicit financial flows, corruption, tax evasion, transparency, accountability, land rights and deforestation, as well as a commitment to reducing social inequality. The candidate should also have knowledge and experience in work related to international cooperation with, for example, other philanthropic funders, impact investors and other donors, in order to help leverage broader support aligned to the Foundation’s Natural Resources and Climate Change program strategy. The candidate will also have a track record in helping build the institutional capacity and financial resilience of local civil society and grassroots organizations.
The Program Officer will also work with the Foundation’s international Natural Resources and Climate Change program team located in other regional Ford Foundation offices and participate in cross-office learning.
BACKGROUND: Overview of Natural Resources and Climate Change Program Strategy
Reducing inequality and its key drivers, which in the West African context includes social exclusion and impunity, are a key focus of the Ford Foundation globally and in the region. Natural resources are central to the economies, livelihoods, cultures and identities of peoples across West Africa. It is critical that the gains from these resources benefit all their people, especially communities affected by extractive industries, as well as ethnic minorities and poor women, girls and citizens living with disabilities, who live in the rural areas where extraction takes place, and who may shoulder a disproportionate cost of natural resource extraction.
The fragility of countries in West Africa and the plight of the marginalized have been exacerbated by the current COVID19 pandemic and the collapse of the price of crude oil and other primary commodities in the international market. This has not only led to the diversion of scarce resources away from addressing other disease burdens and social development goals to the pandemic, but has also thrown the region into a huge debt crisis with attendant fears that some of the countries might fall into sovereign debt default. The Foundation’s Natural Resources and Climate Change program aims to help ensure that the scarce revenues from natural resource extraction in West Africa are accounted for, not diverted through illicit financial outflows and are judiciously used to benefit especially the vulnerable populations listed above, in ways that enable them also to have a say in the interventions that affect them.
The overarching goal of the West Africa Office is an inclusive and safe West Africa with empowered women and girls leading the drive for gender equity and shared responsibility with various gatekeepers for the equitable and accountable distribution of the proceeds of natural resources. The Program Officer will work under the direct supervision of the Regional Director, and be part of a team based in Lagos.
Program Officers are responsible for the development of grant portfolios and ensuring all related activities (grant making, convenings, thought leadership, civil society strengthening, government relations) are designed to deliver on the NRCC goals and strategies. The Program Officer assesses and analyzes the landscape of organizations and identifies which actors to work with to shape agendas that would promote specific strategic outcomes; and makes grants to this end. The Program Officer shares lessons with Foundation colleagues worldwide; collaborates broadly with Ford’s West Africa office team; and serves as a ‘connector’ of grantees. The Program Officer works with practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGOs, community-based organizations, other donors and corporate sector leaders on issues of common concern to leverage resources towards common goals. More specifically, as part of a multi-disciplinary team, the Program Officer will:
- Contribute to the ongoing development and implementation of team strategies, working toward the Foundation’s West Africa office and the international Natural Resources and Climate Change program goals;
- Manage, monitor and coordinate grants, including: annual grant planning; reviewing grants for strategic alignment; identifying and working with prospective grantees to develop proposals for grant recommendations (including helping determine the goals for a grant, its activities, expected results, indicators of success and budget); conducting organizational assessments; undertaking periodic reviews of progress with grantees; and reviewing financial and narrative reporting from grantees;
- Develop and implement grantee convenings to strategize and review opportunities, challenges and advances;
- Leverage support from other donors and improve grantees’ financial resiliency to make them more impactful;
- Recommend and participate in evaluation and learning activities to guide the evolution of programmatic work, working with the office team and the Foundation’s Office of Strategy and Learning;
- Incorporate a rights-based and gender focus in the work;
- Represent the Foundation and its work to the government, media, academic, business, philanthropic, and civic leaders through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings and interviews, with guidance from the Regional Director; and
- Develop and implement grant-making approaches that support the use of strategic communications as part of the Program Framework of the West Africa office and NRCC strategy.
- A post-graduate degree in a relevant field of study (e.g., natural resources policy, natural resource governance, public policy, environmental sciences, rural development, law or social sciences) or equivalent combination of education and experience.
- Recognition as a leader in work on natural resource governance, extractive industries, anticorruption, transparency and accountability, including international experience in multiple countries in West Africa and a perspective informed by the global context and demonstrated collaboration with civil society.
- A minimum of 8 years leading impact-driven strategies and/or subject-matter expertise in a relevant thematic area, and/or demonstration of strong cross-cutting work in a social justice arena.
- Deep understanding of the social, cultural and political context of West Africa, especially Nigeria and the geopolitical landscape.
- Significant relevant experience in natural resource governance policy at the national, regional or global levels, community based natural resource management, and/or rural development, with a combination of policy analysis, advocacy, communications and implementation experience.
- Substantive expertise in and experience with applying gender analysis to work.
- Experience in coalition building including a nuanced understanding of the links between environmental issues and social justice as well as and demonstrated experience as a ‘connector’ and ‘convener’ across a range of interested parties, including grantees, practitioners, government officials, scholars, NGO and corporate sector leaders, and other donors on issues of common concern to leverage positive impact toward common goals.
- Familiarity and experience working with grassroots organizations and representing low-income rural communities, NGOs, academic, private sector and governmental institutions involved with natural resource governance, anticorruption, prevention of illicit financial flows and the way they are governed.
- Demonstrated success in program development, evaluation and management—including ability to strategize, plan, prioritize and identify/assess opportunities, challenges and institutions with which to engage.
- Intellectual agility and ability to analyze evidence, think critically, and understand scientific and policy studies directly relevant to programmatic funding areas.
- Experience with grantmaking desirable but not necessary.
- Fluency in English required; fluency in French or Portuguese, a plus.
The following personal attributes are desired:
- Passion for social justice.
- Demonstrated ability to be a collaborative and productive member of a team, respecting differences while working toward shared goals, comfort with periods of ambiguity, constructive participation in ongoing organizational development.
- Approachable demeanor and openness to input from all levels of staff and grantees.
- Sensitive to issues of gender, racial, ethnic and cultural diversity and inclusion.
- Excellent interpersonal skills, including an ability to listen to others and learn from their best ideas, share best practices and experiences, and contribute to a learning environment as well as constructive verbal and written and strong presentation skills.
- Impeccable integrity and trustworthiness; diplomatic approach to problem-solving.
- Ability to consistently interact with others in a professional, courteous, and tactful manner, maintain a positive attitude and good working relationships, and work effectively in a team setting.
- Ability to work well with colleagues, consultants, funders, and grantees across many diverse cultures and backgrounds.
- Willingness to work to a flexible schedule, including occasional travel within Nigeria, West Africa and Internationally.
- This position is primarily a sedentary role. However, the person in this position may need to occasionally move about inside the office to liaise with internal staff, access files, office machinery and a copy machine/printer. Additionally, domestic/international travel will be expected, approximately 30%; some travel is directly related to grantmaking, but also to attend team conferences, retreats and meetings.
Alignment to Culture and Values
- Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, openness, collaboration, trust, accountability and urgency
- Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor
- Discretion and ability to handle confidential issues
- Action-orientated and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently and in teams
- Medical and dental benefits for employee and immediate family on first day of work
- Retirement savings account with matching company contributions of up to 13%
- Three weeks’ paid vacation in first year of work; four weeks in subsequent years
- Tuition Reimbursement
- Office closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day
- Professional development initiatives for growth
- Generous parental leave (maternal and paternal) during new child’s first year (born into family or adopted)
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