Connecting Waterpeople

ONU Senior Water Specialist Advisor

UNOPS (Naciones Unidas)
Ciudad de Panamá

Background Information - UNOPS

UNOPS mission is to serve people in need by expanding the ability of the United Nations, governments and other partners to manage projects, infrastructure and procurement in a sustainable and efficient manner.

Within these three core areas of expertise, UNOPS provides its partners with advisory, implementation and transactional services, with projects ranging from building schools and hospitals, to procuring goods and services and training local personnel. UNOPS works closely with governments and communities to ensure increased economic, social and environmental sustainability for the projects we support, with a focus on developing national capacity.

Working in some of the world’s most challenging environments, our vision is to advance sustainable implementation practices in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding contexts, always satisfying or surpassing partner expectations.

With over 7,000 personnel spread across 80 countries, UNOPS offers its partners the logistical, technical and management knowledge they need, wherever they need it. A flexible structure and global reach means we can quickly respond to our partners' needs, while offering the benefits of economies of scale. 

Background Information - Job-specific

In December 2012, UNOPS signed an agreement with Mexican Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior SNC (Bancomext) for the administration of the Infrastructure Fund for Mesoamerica and Caribbean Countries. Accordingly, Bancomext and the Government of Mexico, acting through UNOPS, seek to support economic and social development, as well as regional integration in Central America and the Caribbean. UNOPS is providing project management and infrastructure expertise and collaborates with the beneficiary countries for the implementation of the projects. Several countries within the Caribbean Region have requested the financial support of Mexico through a donation from the Fund and there is currently a portfolio of 4 projects approved in Saint Lucia, Belize, Jamaica; 2 projects pending approval in St Vincent, Grenada and 3 projects in submission in St Kitts, Barbados and the Bahamas.

The current vacancy relates to the projects in the field of water in St Lucia, St Kitts, Barbados and the Bahamas with potential supports to any other initiatives in the region that requires water expertise.  The currently approved project in Saint Lucia relates to the design and construction of an integrated and sustainable potable water solution in an area where the population (approx. 10,000 habitants) only receives water a couple of days a week, and the water is often led directly and untreated from the river to the main. To resolve this situation there is a need to construct a new water intake and treatment plant, along with the required storage, transmission and distribution network. Preliminary studies including a conceptual design have been developed and UNOPS has been mandated to manage the implementation of this project in collaboration with the Government of Saint Lucia and relevant agencies.

Functional Responsibilities

Under the guidance and supervision of the Portfolio Manager (PM) for the Caribbean, the Senior Water Specialist Advisor (SWSA) provides technical support to projects, ensuring high quality, accuracy and consistency of work. The SWSA promotes a client-oriented approach consistent with UNOPS rules and regulations.  He/she is expected to meet and exceed the organizations performance and delivery goals. 

S/he must be able to apply, independently, the below duties and responsibilities of the project success criteria:

  • Review and provide comments and recommendations on project’s technical documentation including but not limited to preliminary studies, conceptual and detailed designs, technical specifications, overall water system solutions proposed or project justification, etc.
  • Review and provide comments and recommendation on procurement including but not limited to procurement strategies, tender documents, evaluation criteria, etc.
  • Participate in the evaluation of bids and contract negotiations with suppliers of services, goods and works.
  • Undertake site visits to different countries as required to assess and provide recommendations on project activities as well as ensure quality control procedures (equipment before shipment, reception of equipment and material, works performed, etc.)
  • Provide guidance and supporting material to facilitate the quality control activities
  • Identify and report any risk to the projects based on the technical reviews performed
  • Support UNOPS offices in the region in the production of project proposals for financing (including visits to the countries and analysis of local providers’ capacity, market prices, etc.)
  • Support the project teams on all technical matters as required
  • The activities require travels in different countries for an estimated 50% of the total period of work. The total period of work to be contracted is estimated at 3 months over a period of 12 months.

Core Values and Principles:

  • Understand and respect UNOPS sustainability principles
    • Look for ways to embed UNOPS sustainability principles in day to day project activities
    • Champion and communicate project’s sustainability aspects with key stakeholders
  • Understand and Respect National ownership and capacity
    • Understand the principles of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness and mainstream them into the project plans
    • Look for ways to build capacity of local counterparts
  • Excellence
    • Contribute to innovation and the adaptation of best practice standards of sustainability and quality.


  • Ensure that the project(s) produces the required products within the specified tolerance of time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefits.
  • Excellent communication skills and ability to work in a team to achieve organizational goals;
  • Ability to build and sustain effective work relationship with different team members to achieve common goal;
  • Good analytical skills; resourceful, pro-active, maturity of judgement and behaviour, excellent negotiation skills;
  • Self-motivated

Education/Experience/Language requirements

  • Advanced University Degree in Hydraulics, Hydrology Engineering or any other advanced university degree in Engineering with Water Specialization
  • Additional years of relevant work experience, preferably in combination with a relevant bachelor’s degree, may substitute for the requirement for a master’s degree
  • PRINCE2 Foundation Certification (Desired)
  • Nine years (or more based on academic credentials) of progressive experience in the development and implementation of water related infrastructure projects in either public or private sector organizations.
  • Required experience in the design and construction of at least five projects including either of the following components: potable water treatment plant, reservoirs and distribution main in the Caribbean Region.
  • Fluency in English is requirement.
  • Fluency in Spanish is desirable.

Contract type, level and duration

  • Contract type: IICA (International ICA) - Retainer contract
  • Contract level: Level 3
  • Contract duration: 6 months (renewable based on performance and availability of funds)

For more details about the ICA contractual modality, please follow this link:

This vacancy is under a Retainer contract

A retainer contract is issued for a period of time during which the services of the individual contractor are expected intermittently. The individual contractor agreement on retainer basis will specify a “unit price”

Additional Considerations

  • Please note that the closing date is midnight Copenhagen time (CET)
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only those candidates that are short-listed for interviews will be notified.
  • Qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • For staff positions only, UNOPS reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a lower level than the advertised level of the post
  • The incumbent is responsible to abide by security policies, administrative instructions, plans and procedures of the UN Security Management System and that of UNOPS.  

It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential recruits/interns. 
Recruitment/internship in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.