Skip to main content

Senior Program Specialist - Economics of population health and food systems


IDRC’s Food, Environment and Health (FEH) program aims to develop evidence, innovations, and policies for improved health, healthier food systems, and the prevention of emerging infections and non-communicable diseases. The program’s main priority is the prevention of food-related non-communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Fresh thinking is needed to promote public and private efforts for tackling malnutrition in all its forms and reducing the economic and disease burdens that it brings. Practical solutions are needed that take into account the policy, social, cultural, and economic environments that shape food systems and affect both the quality of food supplies and demand for healthy foods. We support research that applies a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector approach to guide changes in food systems for impact at population level.

Job Overview

As a Senior Program Specialist in the Food, Environment and Health program, you will develop, support and monitor a variety of research activities, including programming that will help build the field of food systems and public health research.

You will bring to the FEH team expertise related to  economics and/or food systems and have insights into the role of public finance in development, including fiscal and trade policies and their influence on consumption, revenues and equity. You can apply your expertise to understanding change and interventions for improving food systems and the consumer food environment, in order to improve access to, and affordability of healthy diets.

You are adept at applying your expertise to  developing research for development outcomes, the costs and benefits of different options, the roles of stakeholders in change and their evidence needs in order to adopt and implement health promoting policies in low- and middle-income countries.  Your understanding of your field and networks, and their relevance to these issues, equip you to provide key input to IDRC’s programming strategy to generate and use knowledge and innovation for large-scale positive change; build leaders; and, to position IDRC as a partner of choice.

Under the guidance of the Program Leader, you will contribute to the program by:

• Contributing intellectually and strategically to program development and implementation:
Identify critical research issues, researchers and strategic partners related to policy research and innovations on the prevention of food-related non-communicable diseases; develop projects according the program strategy; provide technical advice and guidance; contribute to program performance measurement systems
• Facilitating program learning and synthesis across projects: Work with research grantees and, where applicable, external advisors, to strengthen methodologies and analytical skills; forge linkages with other research programs; and encourage and support dissemination of research findings
• Monitoring project performance: Provide feedback, guidance, and information to recipients to improve performance and enhance the uptake and application of research findings, including when necessary, identifying additional expertise to support the project or program
• Promoting research quality and scientific merit: Provide quality assurance at all stages of the research; attention to research ethics; provide intellectual leadership to foster deeper understanding and interpretation of evidence
• Supporting research uptake for impact at scale: Develop knowledge of relevant national and international policy debates and processes; support strategies and approaches designed to facilitate the development of policies and innovations with impact on population and community health
• Developing strategic relationships and partnerships: With the support of management, develop concepts for potential program development through donor partnerships; contribute to partnership development, negotiation, administration and reporting
• Professional representation: Represent IDRC in a wide range of audiences and venues; promote the activities and results of the program to appropriate audiences

Candidate Profile  


• PhD (preferred) and a record of applied research and publications in a relevant discipline such as economics or public policy OR Master’s degree in a relevant discipline with 10 years’ experience


This position requires a minimum of eight years’ relevant experience, which includes:
• research project management involving multiple stakeholders;
• leading, managing and conducting research projects on issues such as the impacts of public finance, the economics of population health, food policy or food systems;
• familiarity with using and/or interpreting statistical methods and results;
• assessing and strengthening research capacities through mentoring and supervising;
• establishing and building partnerships with research organizations and end users;
• consulting with decision-makers and policy actors to identify research needs;
• working in low/middle income countries is an asset.

Note: Candidates with less than 8 years of experience but at least 5 years, may be considered and appointed at the Senior Program Officer level ($90,377 - $108,888)


• English and French language skills at an intermediate level


• Knowledge of public finance, particularly the status of policies and the barriers to adoption and implementation in LMICs
• Knowledge of research methodologies for economic modelling and econometrics relevant to understanding the drivers of behaviour change and transitions in food systems
• Good understanding of public health priorities in LMICs, the “nutrition transition” and the major risk factors for non-communicable diseases
• Good knowledge of academic, government and non-government stakeholders able to engage in research in this field of research


• Initiative, sound judgment and excellent interpersonal skills
• Leadership and relationship building skills
• Solid analytical and verbal/written communication skills
• Results-oriented with superior organizing, problem-solving, implementing and monitoring skills
• Proven creativity and entrepreneurial spirit
• Ability to effectively represent the FEH program and the IDRC externally
• Ability to work in and with multidisciplinary teams from diverse cultures, expertise and experiences

Additional Information

This position requires a willingness to travel internationally, an average of 60-90 days per year.

For more information regarding primary duties or responsibilities, view Job Details.

How to Apply

Please provide a cover letter along with your CV, setting out precise examples of how your experience, qualifications, and skills match those required for this position.

If this is the first time you are applying for a position, click the button Apply for this Position.

Location: Ottawa, Canada
Salary Range (CA$): $96,111 - $120,140
Postion Duration: Permanent
Who Can Apply: The general public
Closing Date: 13/11/16