Program Manager, Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Job Title: Program Manager, Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Organization: Wildlife Conservation Society
Closing date: 15 Dec 2021

Location: Okapi Wildlife Reserve (OWR), Epulu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Reports to: OWR Director

Direct Reports: Heads of Departments for Community Conservation, Research & Monitoring, and MEAL officer

Liases with: All other OWR Department leads (Finance, Logistics, Security), WCS DRC and Regional administrative and technical support teams

Start Date: 1 January 2022

Position Type: Full-time

About WCS

The Wildlife Conservation Society is an international NGO headquartered at Bronx Zoo in New York City working to save wildlife and wild lands and to meet global challenges in over 50 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and the world’s oceans. The Africa Program is the largest of WCS’s field programs, with approximately 1,100 staff in 12 country programs focused across three major regions (Central Africa, Sudano-Sahel, Eastern Africa, Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean).

Our MISSION is to save wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education and inspiring people to value nature. Our VISION is a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. Our GOAL is to conserve the world’s largest wild places in 16 priority regions, home to more than 50% of the world’s biodiversity. Our VALUES are Respect, Accountability and Transparency, Innovation, Diversity and Inclusion, Collaboration, Integrity.

About OWR

Created in 1992, the OWR, at just under 14,000km2, is the single largest protected tract of intact lowland tropical forest remaining in the Africa. OWR is situated in the larger Ituri landscape, comprising more than 40,000km2 of contiguous forests. The Ituri forests are home to a rich diversity of peoples and the global significance of ecosystem services and biodiversity of the area and the OWR in particular is widely recognized. The OWR was inscribed on the list of Natural World Heritage Sites in 1996, and the OWR is also listed as a Key Biodiversity Area.

Under the auspices of a ten-year management agreement between the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) that delegates the management of the reserve to WCS, the OWR management will contribute to the long-term goal of bringing peace and well-being to the people indigenous to the forests of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve while ensuring that the forests are intact, healthy and full of life, and the rivers are clean and flowing. This will be achieved by implementing solutions that will overcome the root causes to the threats to biodiversity, ecosystem services and ecological processes, and also to overcome the barriers to an effectively managed reserve.

The program does this in exceptionally challenging circumstances: the Okapi Wildlife Reserve is a large area of lowland, tropical rainforest in an area of the world renowned for its insecurity, and weak governance and institutions. The program will achieve its goal and outcomes through four pillars of activity: 1) Improved security and reduced criminality through developed capacity; 2) Improved management effectiveness through developed capacity and operationalization of the management agreement; 3) Improved well-being of rights-holding people – through a multi-pronged approach including: well managed access to and use of natural resources, strengthened institutions and institutional capacity, efficient and effective partnerships, economic development that functions within an environmentally and socially sound framework; and 4) Sustainable financing of the management, operation and development of the reserve achieved through a suite of innovative and traditional financing mechanisms and tools.

Job Summary / Purpose:

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is seeking a dynamic, experienced and motivated Program Manager to provide technical, administrative and program implementation support to a large and complex protected area; the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Ituri Province of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The successful candidate will provide programmatic support across all departments of protected area management with a particular focus on timely project reporting and new project development for a diverse array of grants and funding sources, tracking grant implementation, project onboarding, and staff capacity building.

Candidates will need to demonstrate that they have the necessary experience and skills to work within a challenging, dynamic and complex program in a remote location. They will need to demonstrate that they are able to grasp the complexities of situations as they arise, adapt work accordingly and manage their time well. They will have to work within a culturally diverse and challenging work environment. Finally, they will have demonstrated experience in at least one of the four primary pillars of the OWR implementation strategy: 1) improved security and reduced criminality; 2) improved management effectiveness through capacity development and systems building; 3) improved well-being of rights-holding communities in and around the OWR, and 4) sustainable financing. S/he will report directly to the OWR Director and provide regular updates to the OWR Management Unit that is the executive body in charge of all day-to-day management activities and personnel in the OWR.

The Program Manager is based full time on-site at the OWR headquarters in Epulu, Ituri Province.

Responsibilities:

  • Coordinate OWR Departments to ensure that activities and projects under the OWR implementation strategy are implemented to a high standard and on schedule.

  • Work to ensure that all donor and government reports and grant compliance documents are produced to a high standard and submitted in a timely fashion

  • Ensure that internal WCS stakeholders are kept regularly up to date on project activities, deliverables and events.

  • Provide onboarding assistance for new projects in the OWR

  • Provide oversight, coordination and point of contact for OWR partners and consultants working across various fields and sectors within the reserve.

  • Provide training and mentoring to the OWR team – especially in the areas of results-based management, workplanning and budgeting, report writing, learning and adaptation, and communications.

  • Work closely with the Monitoring, Evaluation, Adaptation and Learning (MEAL) team to monitor and evaluate ongoing activities as part of a collaborating, learning, and adapting approach.

  • Work closely with the teams to develop annual workplans and budgets aligned with overall OWR implementation framework

  • Assist with concept development and proposal preparation as needed

  • Maintain good project documentation and archiving

  • Assist with the process of recruiting staff for the Reserve – including the development of Terms of Reference, and the screening, interviewing, selection and onboarding of new staff.

  • Build and maintain constructive relationships, under the guidance of the Reserve Director, with government officials, project partners, sector leaders, donors/collaborators, and others as appropriate.

  • Represent WCS to external donors and stakeholders as appropriate

Qualifications and Requirements:

WCS is looking for a candidate who has:

  • Either an advanced degree (Masters) in the fields of natural resource management, conservation, development, social sciences or similar, or a first degree (Bachelor’s) with demonstrated and appropriate experience.
  • Demonstrated on-the-ground experience (>4 years) within one of the four pillars of the OWR implementation strategy (security and combatting criminality, protected area management systems and operations, development and wellbeing of local communities, sustainable financing of protected areas)
  • Experience working in the project/programme cycles of design, implementation, M&E, reporting, workplanning and budgeting, with knowledge of USAID or other bilateral donors a distinct advantage
  • Experience working, coordinating and collaborating with diverse sets of stakeholders – such as local NGOs, government officials, donor representatives and the private sector
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English, professional working capabilities in French; knowledge of Swahili an advantage
  • Demonstrated experience of working in remote areas under challenging conditions and as an effective member of a multi-cultural team, with experience of working in Central Africa or DRC a distinct advantage
  • Energetic, flexible, adaptable, creative and ambitious, with a drive to get things done
  • Interest in conservation and committed to the mission of the Wildlife Conservation Society

How to apply:

In order to apply for this position and if you meet the above qualifications, skills and experience, you should apply by emailing your application to AfricaApplications@wcs.org. Your application should include, as attachments: a cover letter, CV, and three references (names and contact information). Please include “OWR Program Manager” in the subject line of your email.

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interviews.

If you have any queries related to this position please contact: AfricaApplications@wcs.org

Application Deadline of 15 December 2021

WCS is an equal opportunity employer dedicated to hiring and supporting a diverse workforce: qualified women, people from all ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to apply. We are committed to cultivating an inclusive work environment and look for future team members who share that same value.

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