Head of Programs (HoP) Afghanistan

Head of Programs (HoP) Afghanistan

CRS - Catholic Relief Services

Bamyan, Afghanistan

Job ID: I3133

Reports to: Country Representative

Supervises: MEAL Deputy Program Managers, Deputy Program Manager for Partnerships, Technical Advisor for Agriculture, Technical Advisor for Nutrition, Technical Advisor for Natural Resource Management and International Livelihoods Program Manager

Job Summary

The Head of Programming (HoP) will primarily be responsible for leading the Country Program (CP) in the effective roll-out and implementation of the CP's Strategic Program Plan, with an emphasis on livelihoods and education programming. A senior management position, the HoP will promote high quality programming and support the Country Representative in donor relations and representation. The HoP will directly supervise two MEAL Deputy Program Managers; a Deputy Program Manager for Partnerships; Technical Advisors for Agriculture, Nutrition and Natural Resource Management; and an International Program Manager for Livelihoods. The HoP will also provide regular technical support and PQ oversight to all Program Managers and other senior program staff across the country program, with a particular emphasis on strengthening the capacity of local and international staff, NGO partners, and government counterparts. Additional responsibilities will include PQ-MQ collaboration and oversight to ensure proper budget management, planning, and donor compliance; promotion of the CP's monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL) agenda; and coordination of program growth for the country program. This position will require significant in-country (60%) and regional (15%) travel.

Specific Responsibilities

Program Quality

Coordinate training and capacity strengthening of programming staff on agency tools, policies, and procedures for the promotion of program quality. Advise and support programming staff in Herat, Ghor, Bamiyan and Daikundi provinces in the following:

  • Adherence to Program Goals, Objectives, and Outputs: Ensure programming activities contribute to the program's ultimate strategic objectives and goals;
  • Detailed Implementation Planning: Oversee timely annual development of DIPs for all new projects. Ensure annual DIP planning is done within the context of program goals and FY budget restrictions and includes comprehensive planning for resource allocation (staffing, procurement, transportation plans);
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) - Oversee a results-oriented internal monitoring and evaluation system to ensure high quality programming, accountability and learning. Ensure that M&E systems align with donor reporting requirements and adhere to CRS' Global MEAL Policies and Procedures. Lead regular evaluation and analysis sessions among senior team members and make appropriate strategic changes based on the learning process. Lead in the development, adjustment, and timely submission of the PMP;
  • Reporting: Oversee timely submission of accurate, comprehensive, and high quality, project narrative (and financial) reports in line with agency and donor guidelines;
  • Talent Management and staff development: lead the process, in coordination with Program Managers, the Director for Human Resources and Staff Development, and other senior program staff, to identify internal and external opportunities for staff development, including semi/annual PQ meetings, formal trainings, exchange visits, on-the-job training, mentorships, etc..., focusing in particular on building skills in program management, budget management, MEAL and technical expertise.

Management Quality

Coordinate training and capacity strengthening for senior program staff on tools, policies, and procedures for promotion of management quality. Advise programming staff across the CP in the following:

  • Budget Adherence: Ensure adherence to the approved budget for the fiscal year and life of project, notifying the PM budget holders and the CR of any significant under/overspends in a timely manner;
  • Financial Policy: Ensure timely compliance with CRS Financial Policies, including adherence to policies on procurements, vendor payments, and issuance and liquidation of CRS staff and partner advances;
  • Grant Compliance and Grant Close Out: Lead the grant closure process in coordination with the PMs, MQC, Finance Manager and Grants Manager.

Program Supervision and Coordination

  • Provide strong supervision, coaching, capacity building and learning opportunities for direct reports; ensure that the MEAL Deputy Program Managers are closely coordinating with senior programming and M&E staff across the CP and are well supported to provide technical assistance and capacity building.
  • Provide strong technical assistance, support learning opportunities, and promote strong communication and coordination between PMs in Herat, Ghor, Daikundi and Bamiyan, the Heads of Office and senior programming staff;
  • Work closely with the Country Representative on the formulation and implementation of overall program strategy as well as the preparation of the Annual Program Plan;
  • Coordinate and collaborate on program quality, management quality, learning, and growth initiatives with the PMs, Heads of Office, as well as the DRD/PQ and RTAs;
  • In collaboration with MQC and Finance Manager, oversee and design regular programming and coordination meetings between program and support departments;
  • Serve as the focal point for communication and coordination with the DRD/PQ, RTAs, and Headquarters PIQA representatives as necessary. Take lead responsibility to maintain the updated project tracker document for current projects, new proposal development and reporting schedules;
  • Maintain effective working relationships related to activities with representatives of relevant government ministries, universities, NGOs and contractors, implementing partners, and other key stakeholders.

Learning and Knowledge Management

Design programming structures that promote the capturing, documentation, and sharing of lessons learned and best practices within the CP as well as to broader agency, sector, and donor interests.

  • Program Quality/MEAL meetings: Lead and organize semi-annual PQ/MEAL meetings, in coordination with HoOs involving CP Program Managers and other senior program staff from both the Livelihoods and Education teams (setting agendas, delegating responsibilities, etc.).

Program Growth

In coordination with PMs, CR, and EMECA regional team, lead efforts for sustainable program growth emphasizing the pursuit of multi-year funding to support current and new programs in line with Strategic Program Plan.

  • Opportunities: Investigate donor trends and funding opportunities;
  • Proposal Development: Coordinate development of proposals in the livelihoods sector, education sector and emergency preparedness and response sectors;
  • Proposal review: Coordinate proposal reviews with CP colleagues and the Region/HQ according to CP and Regional guidelines.

Other responsibilities

Perform any other related duties as assigned by and in consultation with the Country Representative.

Key Working Relationships

Internal: Country Representative, Head of Operations, Heads of Offices, Program Managers, Deputy Program Managers, Director of Human Resources and Staff Development, Finance Manager, National and Regional Technical Advisors, Deputy Regional Director for Program Quality, Regional MEAL RTA, and Regional Growth Technical Advisor

External: Government ministries and departments, US government donors, other donors, Caritas Partners, local and international NGOs, CRS regional senior program staff

Personal/professional skills

  • Strong project management abilities, including project design, budget preparation and budget management, MEAL, and reporting;
  • Leadership in staff management and program coordination;
  • Ability to work independently;
  • Ability to lead a multi-cultural team with a high level of respect for local culture;
  • Strong organizational skills;
  • High degree of flexibility and adaptability;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to manage conflict;
  • Strong Computer skills.


  • Master's degree in a field relevant to international development in developing countries;
  • A minimum of five to seven years experience leading teams to implement development and/or emergency projects in developing countries;
  • A minimum of 3 years experience in project management, as well as staff management;
  • Extensive knowledge of CRS program quality resources and tools;
  • Experience in community development, community mobilization, or similar self-help initiatives, and a desire to maximize integration of program delivery;
  • Familiarity with current standards and guidelines for humanitarian emergency response, including the Sphere Handbook criteria;
  • Experience managing and coordinating a large team of professional technical personnel;
  • Ability to work in partnership with local communities and NGOs;
  • An interest in and ability to build capacity in implementing teams, local partners and community groups, with a focus on community participation;
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills; high emotional maturity;
  • Experience in grant management and proposal writing for a diverse portfolio of USG and non-USG international donors;
  • Ability to write reports for internal use, donors, and government;
  • Experience for monitoring and evaluation tools and systems for complex programs;
  • Awareness, sensitivity and understanding of cross-cultural issues;
  • Willingness to work in a conflict/post-conflict situation.


  • Professional proficiency in English, knowledge of Dari/Farsi is a plus.

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