Associate Innovation Officer at UN High Commissioner for Refugees 2020
Career Kenya: Associate Innovation Officer at UN High Commissioner for Refugees 2020
Employment vacancy : Today Recruitment Kenya

Duration: 1st March to 31st December 2020 (10 months, w/ possible extension)

Contract Type: UNOPS International Individual Contractor Agreement (IICA-1) **


Across the globe, forcibly displaced persons face barriers to digital inclusion, which often hampers their ability to be self-reliant and build a better future for themselves and their families. The challenge of digital access is fundamentally a matter of rights, inclusion and self-reliance. In order to realise the Global Compact on Refugees, steps that help enhance self-reliance and humanitarian protection are vital. Having the right to be digitally included is an increasingly important component of this as it is often people’s gateway to accessing information, communicating, educating themselves towards a productive livelihood and as a gateway to the broader world. To strengthen the realization of these rights, UNHCR – with support from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – continues to expand activities under the Connectivity for Refugees initiative.

Through improved access to connectivity and digital technology, there is also greater potential for UNHCR to diversify approaches and adopt new channels to engage with refugees; this provides additional means for UNHCR to better engage with the communities it aims to serve, ensuring their voices are heard and ultimately that humanitarian programming is more accountable. In March 2018, UNHCR updated the organization’s Age, Gender and Diversity policy with a renewed commitment to strengthening its Accountability to Affected People (AAP). This policy update detailed new mandatory core actions for UNHCR’s operations, including the establishment of feedback and complaints response mechanisms. A notable new addition was the inclusion of social media as a recognized form of communication with refugees, and a potential channel for establishing feedback and complaints response mechanisms.

To date, UNHCR’s communication with communities has largely been through traditional forms of communication, including the Participatory Assessment and Community Based Protection (CBP) approaches through face-to-face interactions. However, and unsurprisingly, it has been well documented that refugees’ communication preferences have significantly diversified – with traditional channels being adopted in different contexts throughout the region (including radio and face-to-face individual, Focus Group Discussions and community outreaches). There has also been an increasing uptake of digital platforms and social media. As UNHCR’s operations adapt to refugees’ changing communication preferences, new communications approaches are being adopted. Following an internal 2018 Accountability Survey, UNHCR operations strongly called for support to diversify channels of communication to further increase access for different population groups. In-line with this, UNHCR recognizes it needs to evolve and scale its communication approaches if it is to continue to appropriately engage with refugees across the diversity of their preferred communication channels.

Organizational Context:

UNHCR’s Innovation Service has been building a team in Nairobi since 2015 supporting across a number of initiatives including education, Communication with Communities, Predictive Analytics, and Information Management. In 2019, additional resources were mobilised at a regional level to support AAP and Gender Equality across 4 countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda) under the Dutch MFA funded PROSPECTS partnerships. This work aims to strengthen existing accountability mechanisms, including UNHCR call centres in both Kenya and Uganda.

The Connectivity for Refugees initiative has a solid footprint in East Africa. This includes substantial engagement with Mobile Network Operators in a number of operations, research into key connectivity challenges, and Community Connectivity Fund projects.

At a regional level, UNHCR’s Accountability to Affected People is driven by the Protection Service. The Associate Innovation Office (Digital Inclusion & Participation) will work closely with the Community Based Protection unit, (in the Protection Service) to strengthen UNHCR’s digital inclusion and online participation, with guidance from Regional Public Information colleagues to ensure alignment of supported initiatives.

This position will play a key regional role in the Connectivity for Refugees initiative, based in Nairobi with the Innovation Service, and in close collaboration with the Community Based Protection in the Regional Bureau for East and Horn of Africa and Great Lakes. While the Regional Bureau covers 11 country operations, this role will/can support to the Regional Bureaux in Southern and West Africa as requested.

Duties and Responsibilities:

The duties and responsibilities for this role fall under 4 key pillars:

  • Coordination
    • Ensure that Connectivity for Refugees planning/processes align with regional and CfR Initiative priorities
    • Act as a regional focal point for knowledge and information sharing on communicating with communities approaches, with a specific focus on the safe and appropriate use of digital platforms;
    • Work with operations to identify and broker innovative partnerships to strengthen communication with communities;
  • Operational Support in-line with regional community based protection strategies
    • Support the development and testing of creative solutions for digital engagement with communities challenges;
    • Support regional operations to develop targeted solutions to communication and two-way information-sharing challenges;
    • Ensure that the operations can leverage regional and global Innovation, CfR and Protection technical support from within UNHCR to develop robust solutions that safely and securely connect with refugees online;
    • Identify and position innovative practices for scale by developing pathways for scaling emerging digital AAP practices across the region;
  • Capacity Building
    • Identify digital AAP (incl. Data Protection, Data Privacy and Safeguarding) and Innovation capacity development needs across the region;
    • Actively mobilise resources for Digital AAP and Innovation capacity strengthening at operational, regional and global levels;
    • Leverage internal and external resources to develop a curriculum to strengthen innovative approaches across the region;
    • Develop and test appropriate guidance – based on lessons learned and field case studies – to strengthen innovative approaches to digital AAP;
  • Research and Advocacy
    • Support research into emerging and creative practices related to the application of digital tools in collaboration with a number of consultants;
    • Ensure that research into emerging and creative practices is applicable for internal advocacy purposes and can be leveraged by external partners at a regional level;


Undergraduate degree (essential) or Advanced degree (desired) in Social/ behavioural sciences-Anthropology, International Protection, Sociology, Gender or a related field.

Work Experience

  • Minimum 3 years Experience working in Forced Displacement contexts and engaging with communities through digital platforms;
  • Knowledge of existing guidance pertaining to the application of social media and digital tools in humanitarian contexts – including Data Protection, Data Privacy and Online Safeguarding concerns;
  • Understanding of key frameworks/tools outlining key AAP commitments;
  • Experience working through partnerships/interagency contexts and demonstrating leadership; particularly on topics pertaining to International Protection, Accountability to Affected Populations and PSEA;
  • Demonstrated experience developing operational level/policy level guidance, particularly for organizations operating in refugee or other humanitarian contexts and ideally pertaining to the use of social media;
  • Experience remotely working with operations to document practices;

Key Competencies

  • Demonstrable experience of collating good practices and lessons learned across a range of contexts;
  • Excellent English skills, French highly desirable;
  • A versatile and skilled writer with demonstrated experience in quickly articulating complex and / or technical concepts in simple terms
  • Strong skills in drafting documents and reports of high quality and clarity;
  • Highly organized and autonomous, able to multitask and prioritize workload when necessary
  • Strong time management skills, including the ability to work quickly and to meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work as a team, including remotely.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including across cultural contexts.
  • Excellent skills in Microsoft Word and advanced knowledge of Excel are required; Adobe CC desirable,


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