Vacancy: Program Specialist – West Africa, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
November 15, 2017

START International, Inc. invites applications for a Program Specialist position to be located in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Please note that applicants must be legally eligible to work in Burkina Faso as no sponsorship is provided. The  position will be based at the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), a West Africa organization with a research-focused climate services orientation designed to enhance the resilience of human and environmental systems to climate change and increased variability. WASCAL operates through a central Competence Center and a network of ten West African universities.

The Program Specialist will be a one-year position with an opportunity for annual renewal up to four years upon a satisfactory annual performance review. The primary responsibility of this position is to manage a multi-year project in Francophone West Africa on the nexus of food, energy and water (FEW) security under a changing climate. The Program Specialist will lead outreach and engagement of various research, policy and practitioner constituents in West Africa related to project activities involving dialogue, assessment, capacity building and communications. The first year of the project will focus on multi-stakeholder dialogues to identify critical knowledge needs and priorities for more effectively managing food-energy-water nexus challenges that will serve to scope and set priorities for a regional knowledge assessment and communications effort to take place in subsequent project years. The project has a strong emphasis on capacity development and network strengthening, and is led by START in collaboration with Future Earth.

In addition to the nexus project, the Program Specialist position will work with the START Secretariat to develop new, and strengthen existing, programs that advance START’s mission of science capacity development. This includes interfacing with the West African network (WARN) of the Global Observation of Forest Cover-Global Observation of Land Dynamics (GOCF-GOLD) program.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Coordinate the design and implementation of the FEW nexus initiative in collaboration with the project lead, and close liaison with regional assessment teams.
  • Co-develop and co-facilitate regional dialogues and integrated capacity building activities.
  • Closely liaise with regional partners on project matters.
  • Prepare communication products, project reports and peer-review publications.
  • Develop proposals for additional actions that increase START’s impact on this initiative.
  • Build and maintain strong collaborative relationships with donors, governments, potential partners, and other stakeholders to expand START’s programmatic portfolio in West Africa.
  • Lead the development of new START and WASCAL programs and activities.

Desired Qualifications

A successful candidate should possess the following:

  • A Master’s degree or higher in a field relevant to START’s programs; PhD preferred.
  • At least 5 years of relevant professional experience working in West Africa on global environmental change and capacity building.
  • Experience in writing, editing, and managing large collaborative program efforts.
  • Proven experience leading and developing large-scale capacity building initiatives and methods to measure targets, outcomes, and impact.
  • Proven success cultivating and maintaining working relationship with a broad range of governmental and nongovernmental actors and institutions across sectors.
  • Knowledge of current West African policy discourses relating to climate change.
  • Ability to work independently, across cultures, and within a small team.
  • Exceptional communication, facilitation, organization, and problem-solving skills.
  • Creativity and innovation in program design and implementation.
  • Fluency in written and spoken English and French is required.
  • Legally eligible to work in Burkina Faso; no sponsorship provided.

The Program Specialist will be based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso at the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) and will report to START’s Executive Director, Dr. Cheikh Mbow. Annual salary will be commensurate with experience. Regional travel for representational and program activities will be required. To apply, please send a one-page statement of interest, a resume, three samples of writing you’ve produced, and contacts of at least three references (who will not be contacted without prior notice) to Applications must be received no later than 22 December 2017.


START International, Inc. is an international non-governmental organization incorporated in the USA as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. START’s mission is to increase opportunities for research, education and training that strengthen scientific capacities in developing countries to understand, communicate and motivate action on critical global change challenges. START achieves its mission through promoting ‘research-driven capacity building’, an approach that emphasizes experiential learning by doing, particularly by early-career scientists, in which targeted skill building and networking opportunities are infused within the research experience. START’s portfolio of programs and activities include research grants and fellowships, knowledge assessments and syntheses, advanced training institutes and workshops, curricula development, multi-stakeholder dialogues and learning forums, and regionally based strategic actions that advance global change education and research.

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