• Added Date: Tuesday, 25 February 2020
  • Deadline Date: Monday, 16 March 2020

Médecins Sans Frontières – OCBA (Operational Centre Barcelona - Athens) is looking for an

Operational Cell 5-based Communications Advisor for East Africa Region

(Based in Nairobi, Kenya)


Médecins Sans Frontières is an international independent medical-humanitarian organization which offers assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict, without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation.

MSF is a civil society initiative that brings together individuals committed to the assistance of other human beings in crisis. As such MSF is by choice an association. Each individual working with MSF does it out of conviction and is ready to uphold the values and principles of MSF.

The MSF movement is built around five operational directorates supported by MSF’s 21 sections, 24 associations and other offices together worldwide. MSF OCBA is one of those directorates. The operations are implemented by field teams and the mission coordination teams; together with the organizational units based in Barcelona, Athens and decentralised in Nairobi, Dakar and Amman. The field operations are guided and supported by 5 Operational Cells, the Emergency Unit and other departments supporting operations, including the Communication Department.


Accountable to the Head of Operational Communications Unit, the Communication Advisor (CA) defines and supervises the execution of MSF internal and external communication strategies for a portfolio of countries, in this case, in the operational Cell for East Africa, as well as any interventions in the region by the Emergency Unit and/or eventually other African contexts. The CA plays also an intersectional focal point role for the Somalia mission based in Nairobi.

The post is based in Nairobi, Kenya together with the OCBA cell and includes regular regional/ international travel.

MSF OCBA leads and manages interventions in contexts with acute humanitarian needs during crises and/or where protracted conflicts deprive populations of access to health and other basic services. Its teams intervene following outbreaks of conflicts, diseases or natural disasters. MSF needs to enhance public communication on its operations and the situation of the populations it serves while increasing engagement with civil societies and decision-makers in the area of intervention. The communication advisor will be leading this effort


The focus of the work is to advise the operations staff on strategic communications based on a good understanding of the changing communications environment and to develop plans and content to reach objectives. S/he facilitates external communication with the media and public as well as internal communication. S/he contributes to MSF’s global awareness, acceptance and visibility.

Communications Strategy

  • Together with the team in the cell unit and field operations, assesses communication needs and priorities in order to define and design a communication strategy and plan of activities to meet objectives for each country/project;

  • Implements communications strategies by creating content or activities that raise visibility, increase acceptance, enhance leverage, and/or illustrate transparency of MSF, its principles and activities for the organization at the global level; liaises with CAs from other Operational Centers to maintain reasonable coherence of strategies, plans, content and activities in front of external audiences and local population.

  • Develops and implements specific strategies for public communication to support advocacy efforts on topics and issues at stake in the countries covered according to the needs. This is done in coordination with advocacy staff at OCBA and, when appropriate, the network (Access Campaign, International Office, Program units.)

  • Works closely with the head of communications of the Nairobi Branch Office and the rest of the team to support their institutional communications plans and ambitions for the region, including public engagement, digital activities and media interactions. Coordinates to participate in formal and/or informal meetings with communications counterparts working for other humanitarian agencies and organisations.

Communications Environment

  • Monitors and analyzes the changing communications environment particularly on audience, segmentation, consumption of media, tools, timing, platforms, dissemination, etc.;

  • Keeping abreast of the public discourse, debates, narratives around the specific countries/projects covered, and events to advise Operations on whether or not public positioning is needed. MSF’s communications are always carried out based on its medical activities.

Media Management

As s/he is the primary source of information for the wider MSF network on the activities in the project countries and topics s/he oversees;

  • Closely monitors the way contextual evolutions/MSF operations are reported in the media for each country/project to alert Operations and other CAs anytime an issue might/has come out in the media and provide guidance on how to handle it, together with Field Communications.

  • As the CA is usually the entry point for any media requests and field visits, s/he assesses the relevance of the request in line with the objectives, doing so in collaboration with respective press officer and Field Communications staff. The CA identifies relevant media hubs/audiences for each public communications initiative and engages in advance to ensure support.

  • S/he coordinates with the head of communications of the Nairobi Branch Office to regularly meet formally and informally journalists based in Nairobi through fora like the Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa and identify opportunities to pitch interviews, arrange background briefings or press conferences.

Field Operations, Field Communications staff and Training

  • During emergencies, the CA keeps oversight, coordinates and directs the communications activities, including traveling to the field to develop strategic plans, facilitates media, create content, collects information and write crisis updates for internal and external use, along with supporting field teams with other communications needs and issues;

  • Visit the field and together with the Field Communications staff, if in place, assesses communication needs, better understands the communications/media environment, defines communication priorities with the field and coordination teams and develops a Country Communications Framework;

  • Ensures that communications strategies, action plans and materials created by Field Communications staff are consistent and compliant with MSF´s identity, international guidelines and standards follow internal/intersectional validation procedures;

  • Briefs and debriefs expatriates going to/from the field about MSF´s communications practices, guidelines, expectations and activities;

  • Participates in the conception, preparation and implementation of communication training modules;

  • Provides media/communications training to key spokespeople in the field and conduct information sessions on the role of communications to local staff, if Field Communications staff is not in place;

  • Supports recruitment of Field Communications staff, establishes concrete objectives, prioritize their workload, provide guidance and training and conduct appraisals

Content production

  • Creates and/or oversees the production of communications content for dissemination to the public or targeted audiences and for MSF and external platforms, including press releases, updates, opinion articles, social media content, reports, etc.;

  • Creates, ensures production or collects multimedia material: photos, videos, sounds, etc.;

  • Writes or collects content for various MSF internal and external publications, such as the Punto Info, International Annual Report, advocacy campaigns/reports, newsletters, etc.

Other responsibilities

  • Covers temporarily for other team members or upon request of the Head of Operational Communication on other countries or topics;

  • S/he is “on-call” for emergency communications some weekends and evenings.


    Training and Experience

  • Degree in Journalism or communications. Master’s degree is an asset.

  • Minimum four years of professional experience in media relations or communications with an international NGO

  • One year of field experience and knowledge of/experience with MSF or two years of humanitarian field experience, preferably in emergency contexts.

  • Experience, interest and knowledge of the East Africa region and its different political/humanitarian stakes is an asset.

  • Excellent writing, editing, and proofreading in English.

  • Good understanding of humanitarian interventions, their principles and ethics

  • Knowledge and understanding of the media scene and how it functions internationally and regionally

  • Track record of developing successful communication strategies

  • Experience in production of communications tools (written and multimedia)

  • Ability to analyze and synthesize complex and sensitive material accurately to produce content


  • Good knowledge of photography and video

  • Proven knowledge of digital and social media approaches and tools

  • Ability to handle a large volume of work and know how to prioritize ongoing vs. immediate needs appropriately

  • Strong capacity to deal with stress and short deadlines.

  • Availability to travel to unstable contexts with very short notice and for periods of at least three weeks

  • Possibly spends around 30% of his/her annual working time in the field.


  • Commitment to MSF’s principles

  • Cross-cultural Awareness

  • Behavioural Flexibility

  • Analytical Thinking

  • Strategic Vision

  • Results and Quality Orientation

  • Service Orientation

  • Initiative and Innovation

  • Teamwork and Cooperation


  • Position based in the MSF Nairobi Branch office, with expected travel to the field/missions.

  • Minimum commitment of 3 years.

  • Annual gross salary of Kenya Shillings 5,181,181. Additional secondary benefits applicable, based on Nairobi Branch Office Reward Policy.

  • Expected Starting date : Beginning of May 2020

This vacancy is archived.

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