Local recruitment: Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist

The World Bank
Cotonou, Benin
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
5-7 Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)
Languages Required: 
English and French


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Established in 1944, the WBG is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions.In fiscal year 2018, the WBG committed $67 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $24 billion was concessional finance to its poorest members. It is governed by 188-member countries and delivers services out of 120 offices with nearly 15,000 staff located globally.

The WBG consists of five specialized institutions: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). IBRD and IDA are commonly known as the World Bank, which is organized into six client-facing Regional Vice-Presidencies, several corporate functions, and fourteen Global Practices (GPs) as well as five Cross-Cutting Solution Areas (CCSAs) to bring best-in-class knowledge and solutions to regional and country clients.

The Role of the World Bank Group in Water

Water resources are under unprecedented and increasing pressures, driven by greater climate variability, population and economic growth, land use changes, and declining quantities and qualities of both ground and surface waters.  With cross cutting impacts on agriculture, education, energy, health, gender equity, and livelihood, water is an essential resource for all life on the planet and is at the center of economic and social development.  Climate change expresses itself through water and sound water management lies at the heart of the resilience agenda. Successful water management requires accurate knowledge of the resource available and an assessment of competing demands for its usage. Making best use of available supplies requires complex and sensitive economic, environmental and socio-political trade-offs. Planning for a more uncertain and more constrained water environment in the future only makes the situation more complex.

The world will not be able to meet the great development challenges of the 21st century - human development, livable cities, climate change, food security, energy security, and universal access to services – unless we ensure a water-secure world for all. To achieve this goal the Global Practice will need to work on both water resource management and service delivery issues but in a context where we focus on water in the context of the broader economy.   

The WBG is in a unique position to help governments take such an integrated and strategic approach to solve water supply, sanitation, water resource, hydropower, and irrigation problems through partnership, finance and knowledge.  The Water GP places Water Resource Management (hydrology, economics, storage, groundwater use, rivers and deltas), Service Delivery (to households, businesses and farmers), and an understanding of water in the context of the broader economy at the center of its efforts to help countries address the challenge of managing water.  The Water GP seeks to ensure that water issues are effectively addressed in all related sub-sectors, such as agriculture (ensuring sustainable water availability for irrigation; managing the trade-offs around the agricultural use of water), disaster risk management (floods and droughts), energy (hydropower; energy cooling systems), management of rivers and deltas, and water supply & sanitation (rural and urban; utility performance; wastewater management; targeting the poor).  In each sub sector an integrated approach is adopted which considers investment and operations in the context of governance, institutions and policies.  Finally, the WBG sees the WTR GP to play a pivotal role as an implementation arm of all water-related SDGs, and in particular SDG 6, as well as a global player in the interface of water, resilience and climate change.

Recognizing these unique opportunities, the Water GP has enjoyed a scaled-up program both in lending (about $4-5b of new lending per year moving into programmatic approaches, PforRs, and building country systems), RAS, innovative ASA, and a global partnership agenda.  However, the portfolio has also faced some implementation challenges that need to be resolved.

The Water Global Practice is organized around: (a) a Senior Practice Director and two Practice Directors in the Front Office; (b) 9 region-facing Practice Managers (PMs) covering Africa, Europe and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia; (c) a PM for Global Programs and (d) five cross-cutting Global Solutions Groups (GSGs) led by 5 Global Leads.  The regional PMs report to one of two Directors in the Practice, while the global PM and the Global Leads report to the Senior Director to reinforce the globality of the Practice. The Water Practice comprises around 300 staff.

Reflecting its leadership in the global water agenda, the Global Water Practice also sustains and manages several external partnerships.  In addition, the Water Practice has launched the Global Water Security and Sanitation Program (GWSP), which will provide support across the full water cycle agenda and with a consolidated results framework fully integrated with all other operational engagements of the Water Practice.

The Water Sector in Benin 

Benin has accomplished significant progress in terms of providing access to water services and reached the water MDG in 2015. A government-owned utility SONEB provides water and some wastewater services to urban areas of Benin, including 69 out of the 77 commune administrative centers that exist in the country. In rural areas, the government has undertaken substantial reforms since 2006 to improve professionalization of water service operators. By contrast, the sanitation MDG was not reached, however: according to latest JMP statistics, only 25% of the urban population and 5% of the rural population had access to basic sanitation. 

The Government of Benin has committed to carry out a US$ 900 million investment program over the next 5 years in the water sector to achieve universal access to basic water services in urban and rural areas. The World Bank supports the government in the formalization of this program and the joint mobilization of various financial partners. The World Bank had recently re-engaged in the water sector after 20 years. The GoB recently concluded a Euros 62 million loan agreement with the World Bank (PEPRAU – P156738), which extends water in rural areas, improves the management of sanitation services in urban areas. In addition, the PEPRAU will finance institutional reforms for the urban water sector, to implement the Government’s decision to break-up SONEB into an asset-holding company and an operating company, to be managed through a PPP contract, as well as the setting up of an urban water sector regulator. 

The World Bank has recently approved a US$ 220 million lending operation, AQUA-VIE– first PforR for Benin - US$ 220 million. The Program represents the largest World Bank investment operation in Benin. The Program will increase access to rural water services, establish affermage PPPs to improve the quality and sustainability of water supply systems, and set-up tariff and regulation mechanisms for the long-term sustainability of the sector. An estimated 1.6 million inhabitants will get access to piped water through AQUA-VIE.

There is growing client demand for World Bank support as the agenda shifts to a focus on reform for WSS service delivery at scale, integrated water resources management and irrigation. The GP has adopted a strategy to better leverage international and national sector specialists through increased field presence, where they work on a variety of programs ranging from policy dialogue and relationships with the clients to business development, project preparation and implementation, and technical and advisory support to clients.

Role & Responsibilities:

The candidate will be expected to work independently on complex projects/issues with guidance from senior specialists and Task Team Leaders (TTLs). The successful candidate will support the lending and advisory services and analytics activities in the areas of water supply and sanitation and climate resilience/adaptation in Benin, with the following duties:

  • Support Bank Task Teams and/or participate in projects providing technical support in the identification, preparation and supervision of projects as well as in the preparation and implementation of analytical and advisory activities including formulation of background documents, monitoring progress of projects, and undertaking regular field visits.
  • As appropriate, provide similar operational and analytical services in other countries where the Bank operates.
  • Generate knowledge reports in Advisory Services and Analytics (ASAs) activities for the Water Global Practice.
  • Maintain liaison and dialogue with development partners, research institutions, government counterpart, non-Government organizations, the private sector andother sector-related institutions.
  • Supervise the appointment and work of short-term consultants and firms ensuring consistency and conformity to Bank standards; and evaluate studies and sector-related project documentation.
  • Provide technical support to the task teams, as needed, liaising closely and coordinating the water related activities with other Global Practices and Country Management Unit (CMU); and
  • Monitor and provide advisory support for the adherence to World Bank’s operational policies and quality requirements in technical and fiduciary due diligence.

Selection Criteria

The preferred candidate will meet the following criteria:

  • A Master’s level degree, in a field relevant to water supply and sanitation, including civil, sanitary or environmental engineering, water resources/environmental management, economist, or other related fields;
  • A minimum of five years of relevant professional experience in water supply and sanitation; experience in water resources management; experience in hydrological analysis and modeling will be a plus;
  • The candidate’s track record should combine experience on institutional development and management of water and sanitation services, in particular urban WSS, with a thorough knowledge of the water supply and sanitation sector and the water resources sector;
  • Knowledge and experience working with water utilities would be a plus.
  • Experience in coordinating and/or managing multi-disciplinary projects on water or water resources. 
  • Project management experience in international institutions/companies would be a plus
  • Good understanding of policy, institutional, regulatory and management frameworks for water supply and sanitation, and water resources management, particularly in the context of Benin.
  • Experience with multi-sectoral teams particularly desirable;
  • Good external client relations skills
  • High level of energy, initiative and flexibility in quickly adjusting to changing work program requirements;
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in French and English;
  • Ability to effectively dialogue with and relate to clients and stakeholders;

Required Competencies

In addition to the above, the successful candidate should demonstrate the following:

  • Knowledge and Experience in Development Arena - Understands policy making process; distills operationally relevant recommendations/lessons for clients.
  • Policy Dialogue Skills - Identifies and assesses policy issues and plays an active role in the dialogue with the government and/or other stakeholders.
  • Operational Skills – Extensive experience and knowledge with operational requirements of donors and Government in the context of internationally financed projects and programs would be a plus.
  • Integrative Skills - Working to develop an integrated view across all facets of currentsector.
  • Water Policy and Strategy – Significant understanding of water policies and strategies and their role in delivering outcomes to end users/customers.
  • Water Institutions – Strong understanding of water supply and sanitation sector institutions (ministries, regulators, service providers, community organizations) and how they are best organized to deliver services to end users in a sustainable manner.
  • Water Financing – Basic understanding of approaches to water supply and sanitation sector financing of both capital and O&M costs
  • Water Supply and Sanitation Infrastructure and Technologies - Direct experience with water supply and sanitation infrastructure and technologies.
  • Lead and Innovate - Develops innovative solutions.
  • Deliver Results for Clients - Proactively addresses clients’ stated and unstated needs.
  • Collaborate Within Teams and Across Boundaries - Collaborates across boundaries,gives own perspective and willingly receives diverse perspectives.
  • Create, Apply and Share Knowledge - Applies knowledge across GPs and WBG to strengthen solutions for internal and/or external clients.
  • Make Smart Decisions - Interprets a wide range of information and pushes to move forward.