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Senior Program Officer, Nutrition.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Abuja, Nigeria
Posted on Wednesday, February 7, 2024

The Foundation

We are the largest nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world. Founded on a simple premise: people everywhere, regardless of identity or circumstances, should have the chance to live healthy, productive lives. We believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve. We provide an exceptional benefits package to employees and their families which include comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage with no premiums, generous paid time off, paid family leave, foundation-paid retirement contribution, regional holidays, and opportunities to engage in several employee communities. As a workplace, we’re committed to creating an environment for you to thrive both personally and professionally.

The Team

The Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Discovery & Tools (MNCH D&T) team is responsible for an end-to-end approach focused on product discovery, development, introduction, and scale of novel and existing high-impact products for women, adolescent girls, and children in low-resource settings. Our approach targets underlying biological vulnerability and seeks to intervene as early as possible in the life course. We fund development on a core set of products that range in type (including drugs, foods, microbes, risk algorithms, and devices), technical risk (from novel concepts to product substitutions), and development phase (from early discovery to late-stage efficacy testing and implementation research). We also support the launch and introduction planning of a subset of our core products that are further in the development process to accelerate country adoption and drive impact at scale. Key to the successful scale of products and interventions are our partnerships in the MNCH ecosystem and our ability to collaborate with existing and new donors in this space. The products in our portfolio target pregnancy risk, maternal undernutrition, prematurity, neonatal encephalopathy, child wasting, child neurodevelopment, and maternal morbidity. Our team is multidisciplinary and includes physician-scientists with backgrounds in obstetrics and pediatrics, perinatal epidemiologists, and professionals in neurodevelopment, nutrition research, engineering, global health, and strategy development. We emphasize in-country partnerships to integrate the local context into research and development.

The Nutrition Team invests in nutrition to reduce preventable deaths and improve maternal and child health. Nutrition is the key to ensuring that individuals not only survive, but that they can truly thrive with optimal physical growth and cognitive development. Our strategy focuses on Large-Scale Food Fortification (LSFF). Food fortification—adding essential vitamins and minerals to everyday food staples such as salt, flour, and cooking oil—is one of the most scalable, sustainable, and cost-effective tools to reduce micronutrient deficiencies worldwide. We will invest in impactful solutions to produce practical data; deliver high-quality technical assistance to millers and food producers; advance new innovations in micronutrients and food vehicles; digitize quality assurance data in mills to empower industry self-monitoring; and strengthen public sector standards and regulations for LSFF programs. We collaborate with partners across public and private sectors, to support attainment of SDG 2 – a global commitment to tackle malnutrition and hunger. Internally, we collaborate across foundation teams including Agricultural Development; Maternal, Newborn & Child Health; and Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Discovery & Tools, to broaden our collective learning and impact.

The Role

The Foundation invests in nutrition to reduce preventable deaths and improve maternal and child health, with a particular focus on the 1,000-day window of opportunity from the onset of pregnancy to the child’s second birthday. Nutrition is the key to ensuring that individuals not only survive but that they can truly thrive with optimal physical growth and cognitive development. Key program areas include large-scale food fortification (LSFF); nutritious food systems (NFS); maternal, newborn, and child nutrition (MNCH Nutrition); and upstream research and innovation to identify new approaches and game-changing interventions. Across our areas of focus, we work closely with Governments, the United Nations, bilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

Nigeria is a priority country for our nutrition work, with other countries in the region as part of our replication strategy. Despite a conducive policy environment, deep-reaching delivery platforms, and richness in data for decision-making, malnutrition remains the underlying cause of more than half of childhood deaths in Nigeria. Our goal is to support the implementation of the government’s multi-sectoral National Nutrition Plan while accelerating the scale of evidence-based nutrition interventions within the region. This role will craft and help implement, primarily, our work in Nigeria and initially investigate the region including but not limited to:

  • Deliver, scale, and sustain proven, on-strategy, and impactful interventions, building on existing foundation investments in nutrition.

  • Support the introduction and scale of high-priority nutrition innovations, in line with Government recommendations.

  • Support the Nigeria National Policy on Food and Nutrition, National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition (Ministry of Health), and Food Security and Nutrition Strategy (FSNA) (Ministry of Agriculture).

  • Invest and guide targeted primary and innovative data generation geared towards a digitized nutrition data system providing trusted and cost-effective evidence guiding policy and program decision-making.

The Senior Program Officer (SPO), Nutrition will be based at the Foundation’s Nigeria Country Office (NCO) in Abuja.

This position reports to the Deputy Director of Health, and Nutrition in the NCO, with a close working relationship with Deputy Directors for LSFF and MNCH Nutrition based in Seattle.

What you’ll do

The selected candidate will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Lead the coordination and execution of nutrition work in Nigeria, supporting the NCO, and in close liaison with the LSFF, MNCNH, and NFS teams in Seattle.

  • Support a limited number of non-nutrition in-country responsibilities in line with NCO Health and Nutrition strategies.

  • Over time, incorporate regional nutrition responsibilities across West Africa.

  • Scope, propose, and craft investments (grants and/or contracts) to implement activities to support the nutrition strategy as well as some non-nutrition programmatic goals.

  • Manage a portfolio of complex grants and contracts requiring high-level grant management skills, including applying and evaluating milestone-based performance objectives.

  • Participate as the Nutrition SPO with other program teams within the Foundation as assigned (e.g., the Agricultural Development team as it relates to the food systems initiative and the teams working in the health sector in Nigeria).

  • Establish and nurture on-strategy partnerships that will contribute to the success of our investments in the country and within the region. Work as part of the country office staff for coordinated relationship management with Federal and State government officials, other donors, grantees, and other partners.

  • Lead efforts to promote appropriate policies and plans for health and nutrition in Nigeria and investigate regional replication opportunities.

  • In collaboration with the Measurement, Learning, and Evaluation (MLE) SPO in-country and in Seattle, define and implement appropriate measures to track investment performance.

  • Serve as a partner and resource to grantees and Foundation program teams to facilitate the accomplishment of strategic objectives.

  • Synthesize and document results and lessons learned from grants and contracts including preparing briefings and portfolio reviews to leadership.

  • Contribute to writing background documents, briefs, and presentations, including carrying out relevant literature reviews, landscape analyses, and data analysis.

  • Plan and coordinate partner consultations and meetings to advance understanding of key issues for the strategy.

  • Undertake and lead special projects, as requested.


  • Advanced degree in nutrition or public health.

  • Minimum of eight years of experience in nutrition-related field, preferably gained within Nigeria and/or other relevant country experience.

  • Experience in multi-sectoral program design and implementation related to nutrition, large-scale food-fortification, food security or science, and/or public health; preferably gained within multiple sectors, including global health/development organizations.

  • Demonstrated experience in partnership building and management in Nigeria and/or other relevant countries.

  • Experience working with food and health systems coupled with a deep understanding of public-private program implementation.

  • Demonstrated experience with conducting analyses.

  • Demonstrated curiosity and comfort in areas beyond current areas of expertise with a validated ability to rapidly acquire knowledge and implement good judgment in a variety of scientific areas.

  • Ability to organize and prioritize work and meet deadlines within a fast-paced environment with multiple and competing demands.

  • Ability to work with diverse teams including scientists, business analysts, program implementers, and other partners.

  • Excellent interpersonal and negotiation skills with the ability to solve problems with energy.

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills. Fluency in English is required. French is an asset.

Other Attributes

  • Sense of humor and positive attitude required.

  • Ability to travel within Nigeria and internationally, up to one-third of the time (35%).

Application End Date: 7 February, 2024


Hiring Requirements

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

Candidate Accommodations

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Inclusion Statement

We are dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We strive for a global and cultural workplace that supports ever greater diversity, equity, and inclusion — of voices, ideas, and approaches — and we support this diversity through all our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve our mission will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and prior protected activity.