Project Development Consultant

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)


Result of Service

The objective is to review and present alternatives for a new water intake from the tributary of the Cartí Grande River for the new Gardi Sugdup School Center in Panama under the GEF CReW+ project, with the possibility of extending this new water supply to the new planned Gardi Sugdup neighborhood and its planned health center. It also includes the design of sustainable sanitation and integrated water resources management measures that complement the existing/new treatment facility at the School Center and improve water management/recovery at the School facility.

Work Location


Expected duration

The expected duration of the consultancy is 2.5 months.

Duties and Responsibilities

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the United Nations systems designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional levels. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of global consensus on environmental issues by keeping the environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

UNEP and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are currently implementing the Global Environment facility-funded CReW+ Project An integrated approach to water and wastewater management in the Wider Caribbean Region using innovative solutions and sustainable financing mechanisms in 18 countries in the Wider Caribbean. The GEF CReW+ Project aims to implement innovative technical small-scale solutions in the Wider Caribbean Region using an integrated water and wastewater management approach. The project is co-executed by the Secretariat of the Cartagena Convention and the German agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GmbH) on behalf of UNEP and the IDB, respectively, along with the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Through the UNEP Cartagena Convention Secretariat, the Project Coordinating Group is seeking a Consultant to support the overall implementation of the GEF CReW+ Project by preparing specific national-level activities in Panama (CReW+ national package) under Component 3, which entails the “provision of innovative small-scale, local, rural, peri-urban and community-based solutions for IWWM”. The objective is to showcase the implementation of decentralized wastewater management systems, with potential benefits including reuse for various economic activities. The specific intervention involves the review of alternatives for a new water intake from the tributary of the Cartí Grande River for the new Gardi Sugdup School Center, with the possibility of extending this new water supply to the new planned Gardi Sugdup neighborhood and its planned health center. It also includes the design of sustainable sanitation and integrated water resources management measures that complement the existing/new treatment facility at the School Center and that improve water management/recovery in the School facility.

The new School Center, which by November 2021 already had 95% completion, was designed to accommodate 1,200 students, with a projected water consumption of 20,000 gallons per day. However, the current aqueduct system does not have sufficient capacity to supply that demand. The Ministry of Education (MEDUCA) has evaluated several options to supply drinking water to the school, meeting its daily demand of water and its projection for 20 years. A new water source located 11.5 km away was identified as the most suitable solution. The intake is within a tributary of the Cartí Grande River, within the jurisdiction of the community of Gardi Sugdup. This alternative was proposed by the community itself, and has already been endorsed by the community and by the Water and Sewerage Subsector Directorate (DISAPAS). MEDUCA performed bacteriological analyses of the water source, which were positive, and worked with the school’s contractor on a technical and economic proposal for the construction of the new system. Although this proposal is considered viable, further analysis is needed to identify additional aspects that need to be incorporated into the design of the system. With regard to the wastewater management system for the new School Center, a new wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was already built on the premises of the school. However, this is a conventional treatment plant that does not incorporate a more integrated water management approach that could generate additional benefits, such as reuse of treated effluent, rainwater harvesting and water saving measures. The water and wastewater management solutions should consider non-conventional nature-based solutions (i.e. constructed wetlands, etc.), with a reduction of treatment and operational costs local environmental and socio-economic benefits.

The Implementation of Component 3 of the CReW+ project in Panama is expected to benefit the local community in the following ways:

• An assured water supply for the Carti Sugdup School (including a permanent boarding student community), and possibly for the new Carti Sugdup neighborhood and clinic;

• Improve wastewater management at the new School, with reduced treatment costs;

• Improve water quality of receiving water bodies (surface and sub-surface);

• Reuse treated effluents or biproducts from treated effluents and residual solids for small-scale agriculture, local landscaping or other uses;

This consultancy is intended to produce a final set of technical and economic recommendations for the new water intake and transportation of water to the new School Center, as well as a technical proposal for the incorporation of an integrated water and wastewater management system that complements the existing wastewater treatment solutions and school construction systems.

The proposed activities under this assignment are to:

  1. Verify the suitability of the selected water source and water transportation/carrier project for the new Carti Sugdup School Center including review of existing feasibility studies and technical recommendations (feasibility and pre-design level) for improved solutions. This should include:

• Confirming that the source identified by MEDUCA (tributary of the large Cartí River) guarantees the quantity and quality of the resource to the New School Center, and possibly the entire population of the Nuevo Cartí Urbanization and verification of water availability based on seasonal variations of the annual flow (dry and rainy seasons from empirical data) and population data (student and community) with 20-year projections;

• Proposing alternative sources of water, in the event that the flow of the water source is not sufficient or may be limited, as well as new sources (regional, local and in-situ), changes in demand or application of water efficiency measures;

• Verification of the legal access to the water sources and any proprietary or regulatory barriers that may affect the development of the new source, including the design and operation of the new infrastructure;

• Reviewing the water quality analysis available for the identified water source, with bacteriological and physico-chemical results and additional test requirements to guarantee viability of the water source;

• Proposing the best water treatment system, in addition to disinfection, as well as its location;

• Reviewing the horizontal and vertical alignment of the water carrier developed by MEDUCA and the Education Centre (EC) Contractor , including the technical and economic feasibility of the planned route, the adduction, conduction and distribution lines (document with existing topographic/land surveys);

• Reviewing the existing information on land tenure/ownership rights along the carrier’s route, including the location of the storage tanks;

• Proposing any changes/adjustments that may improve the design and performance of the carrier, including the use of gravity to eliminate pumping needs and the use of alternative sources of energy for pumping (solar, wind) to reduce operational costs;

• Providing solutions (at pre-design level) for any suggested improvements.

  1. Review of the existing wastewater treatment plant, and feasibility and pre-design of alternative integrated water and wastewater management solutions for the new Sugdup Carti School Center. This will include:

• Reviewing the existing wastewater treatment Plant (WWTP), treatment methods and projected effluent;

• Reviewing and proposing alternative systems to complement existing WWTP investment, including addition of secondary or tertiary treatment based on desired treated effluent which should consider nature-based solutions (i.e. constructed wetlands, etc.) based on desired objectives, treatments methods and objectives (reuse or discharge to land/water bodies);

• Reviewing and proposing possible sanitation solutions for collection, treatment and reuse of organic waste, feces, urine and gray water;

• Reviewing and proposing sustainable technological solutions for rainwater harvesting, including collection and distribution (system or surface capturing — roofs, gutters, first flush, etc.), storage system or area (cistern, tank) and filtration/purification;

• Developing a comparative analysis of projected savings for each proposed system, including capital and operational costs, savings on water and electricity bills, etc;

• Establishing a programmatic budget for the implementation of the integrated systems, with annual distribution of costs;

• Establishing the social and cultural context for the integrated water and wastewater management solutions, and the roles of the student community and the Carti Sugdup community in the effective implementation of the different aspects and components of the project. Provide MEDUCA with guidance on critical interactions between the proposed solutions and the users/community, and participate in a community forum to present the various solutions;

The consultant will report directly to the Senior Coordinator Officer of UNEP Cartagena Convention Secretariat and will work in close coordination with the regional project management team and the GEF Operational Focal Point at MINAE. Payment will be remitted subject to the approval of deliverables by UNEP.

Qualifications/special skills

Skills: Good knowledge of wastewater reuse, technological innovations and sustainable management of treatment systems and reuse would be an asset.

Academic Qualifications: A Master’s degree in environmental planning, engineering (water and sanitation), environmental engineering, water resource management/policy, or equivalent is required.

Experience: A minimum of 10 years of relevant experience in Latin America and the Caribbean in the water/sanitation and the environmental sustainability fields is required.

Work experience in water source/water service provision, wastewater management systems, including decentralized and nature-based solutions is desirable.

Experience working with indigenous groups would be a distinct asset.

Language: English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in oral and written English and Spanish is required, as reports are accepted in Spanish.

Knowledge of another official United Nations language is desirable.

No Fee