Technical Specialist- Water Supply

United Nations Development Programme, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Skill Required:, Project/ Programme Management
Preferred Experience: 
5 years
Closing Date for Applications: 
7th February, 2019

Job Description


UNDP in Sri Lanka is reorganizing internally and moving to an integrated collaborative business model. Internally, an energetic and innovative team will converge around the planning, design, implementation and quality assurance of an integrated programme in a fast-paced environment. Fostering strategic partnership and alliances with different stakeholders will require a team which consistently approaches work with energy and a positive, constructive attitude and has a strong client orientation. Strong UN partnerships are valued for Delivering Together in a true spirit of collaboration and teamwork.

Sri Lanka’s recent economic gains, following the end of a debilitating 30-year war and the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, are being threatened due to its increasing vulnerability to climate change which is characterized by increasing temperatures and unpredictability of rainfall. Over 80% of poor Sri Lankans live in the rural areas and depend on agriculture for food and income. IPCC’s fifth assessment report predicts that South Asia, including Sri Lanka, is vulnerable to drought, flood, food shortages and heat-related mortality. The country has been experiencing severe shifts in its seasonal rainfall patterns accompanied by increased flood and drought in the last decade directly impacting rural food security and incomes, especially in the dry zone.

The impacts of climate related rainfall variability and extreme weather events directly affect incomes and food security of Dry Zone farmers and compounds existing vulnerabilities owing to poverty, low incomes, and recovering from three decades of conflict. Recurrent hydrological disasters have eroded the coping capacity of Dry Zone communities making them even less able to plan for and overcome climate-related variabilities in water availability. Climate-change induced droughts also impact access to reliable drinking water as they reduce the sufficiency of water supply and falling water volumes increase the concentration of pollutants. Floods also affect the water quality of drinking water sources, by directly polluting the sources as well as by destroying village irrigation reservoirs that provide a source for drinking water. Farmers in the Dry Zone are also increasingly exposed to water related chronic illnesses such as kidney disease. High rates of morbidity and mortality among young male farmers are reported in the north central and northern provinces.

In this backdrop, Government of Sri Lanka, with the assistance of UNDP, has secured funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for “Strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers in the Dry Zone to climate variability and extreme events through an integrated approach to water management”. The objective of the project is to strengthen the resilience of smallholder farmers, particularly women, in the Dry Zone through improved water management to enhance lives and livelihoods. The expected key fund level impacts are increased resilience of health and well-being, and food and water security and increased resilience and enhanced livelihoods of the vulnerable smallholder farmers in the Dry Zone of Sri Lanka. The primary measurable benefits include approximately 770,500 direct and 1,179,800 indirect beneficiaries, who will gain from improved water management, resilient agriculture practices, and provision of climate and weather information. The objective will be achieved through following three components:

  • Rehabilitating and upgrading of 325 village irrigation systems and scaling-up climate-resilient farming practices in three river basins of the Dry Zone.
  • Implementation of 35 community water supply schemes, 125 water purification and filtration systems, and 4,000 rainwater harvesting units to enhance climate-resilient, decentralized water supply and management solutions to provide year-round access to safe drinking water to vulnerable communities.
  • Establishment of early warning and forecasting systems and climate advisory services to enhance water management and adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers to droughts and floods.

The Project focuses on the small holder farmers living in three climate vulnerable river basins in the Dry Zone, namely: Mi Oya, Yan Oya and Malwathu Oya. This is the first time that an integrated approach to water management is being advanced in the country incorporating climate change concerns, understanding linkages across river basins/sub-river basins, and including multiple uses of water. Therefore, integrated nature of the above components is respected in project implementation.

The project commenced in 2017 and will be implemented over a period of 07 years with a total budget of US $ 52.084 million in - North Western, North Central, Northern and Eastern Provinces, focusing on GN divisions that fall within Mi Oya, Malwathu Oya and Yan Oya river basins. Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment will serve as the implementing partner while the following agencies will act as responsible parties for different components of the Project.

  • Department of Agrarian Development (DAD)
  • Department of Agriculture (DoA)
  • Department of National Community Water Supply (DNCWS)
  • National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB)
  • Ministry of Disaster Management (MDM)

The Project implementation modality includes a Project Management Unit established under the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment with a Project Director, Deputy Project Director, Project Accountant and other project staff. UNDP provides technical assistance to implement the Project and also delivers the quality assurance function. Under this, the service of a team of technical specialists is provided by UNDP to facilitate the implementation of the Project.

Against this backdrop, UNDP aims to recruit a Technical Specialist to lead the design and delivery of Component 02 of the Project, while also providing inputs towards Project’s integrated approach for water management.

Working under the overall guidance and supervision of the Chief Technical Advisor (DRR/CCA) and in close collaboration with the Senior Water Supply Specialist of the Project, the Technical Specialist will be responsible to manage the Component 02 of the Project and coordinate with the responsible parties, for the design, delivery and monitoring of innovative interventions to achieve project results, ensure quality documentation of data/knowledge generated, support to form creative partnerships, joint programming with other technical specialists and work in overall coordination with relevant internal and external stakeholders.

Duties and Responsibilities

The position of the Technical Specialist-Water Supply for the GCF project includes the following main functions or results areas:

  • High quality technical expertise for the design and delivery of results under component 02 of the project.
  • Provide high quality technical input to the design of activities under component 2, while providing dedicated technical advisory support to the key partner institutions (i.e. Implementing Partner, Responsible Parties, relevant Provincial Governments, civil society organizations, UN agencies, private sector companies) and Project Management Unit;
  • Factor in risk mitigation and cross-cutting principles such as gender and conflict prevention in activity design;
  • Provide technical support to the CTA and implementing team to analyze results and lessons learned and recommend strategies for improved delivery of project activity results and outputs;
  • Coordinates with, and source technical support and policy advice from the UNDP Regional teams and Sri Lanka Country office, responsible parties, and other national and international technical and academic institutions/think tanks, to ensure technical and strategic expertise is provided to enhance the quality of the technical assistance provided to partners;
  • Ensure synergies with/between other project components of the Project, to strengthen the achievement of project outcomes and promote Sustainable Development;
  • Facilitate knowledge-building by ensuring lessons learned, and best practices are documented and periodically shared to inform wider policies;
  • Participate in relevant events and networks related to the scope of work in this assignment;
  • Provide technical expertise for project implementation and delivery of quality results.
  • Provide technical assistance for the implementation of the activities, enabling high quality delivery of outputs and activity results as per the Funded Activity Agreement, Proposal, project document and/or Project Board decisions;
  • Provides technical input to the preparation of annual and quarterly work plans, and the monitoring and evaluation processes, in consultation with the CTA, Senior Water Supply Specialist and Project Board, while ensuring complementarity with other thematic areas of the Project;
  • Supports the administrative and financial follow-up of the implementation of the plans, activities and budgets of component 2, in accordance with the implementation policies of UNDP and the donor-GCF;
  • Provide recommendations to use external inputs and to hire specialized consultants, and contributes to the drafting of terms of reference;
  • For the implementation of component 2: identifies appropriate government and civil society partners, proposes appropriate contractual arrangements and monitors their implementation;
  • Participates, with its technical input on integrated water management, in the preparation of project activity reports for component 2;
  • Refines indicators, baselines and targets for component 2, based on the project M&E framework;
  • Undertake field visits as required, submission of timely follow up technical reports, and undertake required follow up actions;
  • Ensure that the activities implemented under water supply component have given due attention to environmental, social safeguard requirements (including gender dimensions) of the Project;
  • Build the capacity of the project partners and beneficiaries on various aspects of climate resilient water supply as identified in the project design;
  • Identify bottlenecks in implementation of component and undertake or recommend, as appropriate, corrective action for addressing and overcoming these;
  • Manage the budget allocation for component 2 effectively, to ensure all the activities identified in the approved work plan are delivered within identified timelines;
  • Communication, awareness raising of the project activities and building partnerships for future resource mobilization.
  • Under the overall guidance of the CTA, represent UNDP and strengthen existing partnerships, while developing creative and new partnerships, including with UN Agencies, government institutions, development partners, civil society organizations, private sector, etc., with a view to achieving project results;
  • Coordinates and builds synergies with other projects on the same theme;
  • Proposes partnerships and facilitates relations between government entities and civil society organizations;
  • In liaison with the UNDP communications analyst, and in coordination with other technical colleagues, and within the framework of the project communication plan, contribute to the project’s communication activities, by valuing the results of component 2;
  • Participate in the preparation of articles and communication products of the project;
  • Researches, analyzes and presents information gathered from diverse sources;
  • Assists in policy development, including technical review meetings and analysis of issues and trends, preparation of evaluations or other research activities and studies;

Impact of Results

The key impact will be that anticipated results from key activities will be achieved with a high degree of quality, in line with UN principles, and comparative good practices. In addition, the results will secure strong partnerships with key actors, and enable resource mobilization. Advocacy, management and technical assistance provided by the incumbent will contribute towards tangible progress in achieving the Project outcome and more broadly sustainable development for the country.


Corporate Competencies:

  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling the UN’s values and ethical standards
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNDP
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability
  • Treats all people fairly without favoritism
  • Fulfils all obligations to gender sensitivity and zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

Technical Competencies:

  • Sound understanding of the water sector of the country, climate risks and climate change adaptation
  • Sound knowledge on project management
  • Demonstrated skills in facilitating dialogue between diverse stakeholders including Government, Civil Society, and communities etc.
  • Excellent knowledge on participatory approaches to programming
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to design and prepare strategies for interventions aimed at finding durable solutions.
  • Knowledge of key current concepts, including the climate risks, climate change adaptation, sustainable development, and 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and Goals.
  • Ability understand and mainstream Gender dimensions into the project implementation.

Functional Competencies:

  • Capability to deliver timely results
  • Demonstrates good judgment
  • Ability to plan own work and use time efficiently, manage conflicting priorities and work under pressure of tight and conflicting deadlines
  • Flexible and agile in responding to changes in context/new developments.


  • Builds strong relationships with all partners, focuses on impact and results for the client, and responds positively to feedback
  • Consistently approaches work with energy as well as a positive and constructive attitude
  • Demonstrates openness to change and ability to manage complexities
  • Displays strong conflict resolution skills
  • Demonstrates strong oral and written communication skills
  • Remains calm, in control and good humored even under pressure.
  • Proven networking, team building, organizational and communications skills.
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality of information and records.

Knowledge Management and Learning

  • Promotes knowledge management and a learning environment in the office through leadership and personal example
  • Actively works towards continuing personal learning and development in relevant practice areas and applies newly acquired skills and knowledge.

Required Skills and Experience

Recruitment Qualifications

Education & Experience:

  • Master’s Degree with 5 years OR Bachelor’s with 7 years of progressively responsible work experience in Engineering, Social Science, Water Resource Management, Project Management or another relevant field.
  • Prior experience in water sector, disaster management, climate change mitigation/adaptation is an added advantage
  • Relevant research and published material an asset.
  • Experience dealing with a diverse range of partners would be an advantage.
  • Strong diplomatic skills in handling counterpart relations.

Language Requirements: Fluency in English and Sinhala and/or Tamil with excellent written and oral communication skills is essential.


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