Irrigation and Drainage Specialist

The World Bank
Washington, DC, United States
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
Mid-Level (5-7 Years)
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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Established in 1944, the World Bank Group (WBG) is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It uses financial resources and extensive experience to help our client countries to reduce poverty, increase economic growth, and improve quality of life. To ensure that countries can access the best global expertise and help generate cutting-edge knowledge, the World Bank Group is constantly seeking to improve the way it works. Key priorities include delivering measurable results, promoting openness and transparency in development, and improving access to development information and data. Innovation and partnership bond the five institutions of the World Bank Group (WBG): the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The World Bank Group (WBG)’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity reflect a new global landscape: one in which developing countries have an unprecedented opportunity to end extreme poverty within a generation.


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, water is at the center of economic and social development. Successful water management requires accurate knowledge of available resources and smart management of competing demands with complex economic, environmental and socio-political trade-offs.

Water related activities within the World Bank are led by the Water Global practice for its IBRD/IDA portfolios, working in coordination with other parts of the World Bank Group. The water GP manages a lending portfolio of about $25 billion, with another $10 billion of water related portfolio managed in related Global Practices. The Water GP also plays a key role in creating evidence based global knowledge and solutions in the water sector, additionally hosting a number of global and regional partnerships. It is one of the foremost institutions within the water sector bringing together knowledge, policy advice, partnerships and financial support to its client countries.

The Water Global Practice is organized around a Senior Global Director and two Senior Regional Sustainable Development Directors, with 9 Regional Practice Managers, one global manager and five Global Solutions Groups led by Global Leads. It comprises around 300 staff. 

The Water Global Practice Supports irrigation/drainage development and improved management through various instruments to achieve (a) faster agricultural growth and poverty reduction in areas where agricultural productivity and inclusive rural development in the region require enhanced attention and where development potential is significant, and (b) efficient agricultural water management use throughout the world and particularly in contexts where scarcity increases.  The main instruments are investment projects and programs as well as policy reform instruments, knowledge generation and sharing.


Within the Europe and Central Asia Region the World Bank is managing a large, diverse and shifting irrigation and drainage portfolio. After many years of transition of the rural economies in the post-communist era, countries are facing new challenges in the viability and demographic changes in agriculture, experiencing new climate shocks and variability; and facing an ageing, poor and emptying rural space. Water in agriculture projects have focused on rehabilitating large- and small-scale schemes, reform of public sector institutions, improving water use efficiency and currently the portfolio is shifting from maintenance of infrastructure assets to improving them and sustaining water in agriculture beyond short term efficiency and productivity gains. This requires irrigation projects that focus on the interplay of infrastructure modernization; institutional reform/service delivery; and improving information management in changing contexts. Increasingly this means a more holistic approach to water and agriculture, to resilience, to water balances, and to a more precisely defined service delivery with accountability. This also increasingly asks for farmer led irrigation development (non-traditional methods), water stewardship (in light of global, EU and national demands for sustainable resources management).

The GWA03 unit manages a diverse range of investment projects and analytical work and supports joint programs with the Agriculture GP and the Water GP. In a number of countries there is dialogue on new operations and need to strengthen teams in ongoing programs.


The Water GP seeks an irrigation and drainage specialist to work on operational and policy issues in the area of agricultural water management and water resources management. He or she is expected to have an operational experience to support preparation and supervision of infrastructure investment, information, and institutional projects in agricultural water management with specific experience in technical irrigation and drainage design issues. He or she should be familiar with policy options about water management and irrigation, irrigation planning in support of agricultural transformation and within a basin context. He or she should be able to support task teams’ dialogue with clients and partners on these issues. A tentative list of CMUs where the specialist will join teams is Western Balkans, EU and Eastern Europe.


Working under the overall supervision of the Water Global Practice’s Unit (GWA03) manager and in collaboration with Task Team Leaders (TTLs), the successful candidate will support Water in Agriculture (mainly irrigation and drainage, but also integrated watershed management, integrated flood and WRM) projects, which includes:  

  • Contributing to the identification, preparation, appraisal, and negotiations of water in agriculture related lending operations including oversight of technical feasibility and prefeasibility studies.
  • Contributing to the design of specific project components, defining project implementation arrangements, and providing inputs to project documentation and processing.
  • Conducting specific technical tasks, as designated subject specialist in the field of irrigation and drainage and water resources management; and providing technical support to the task teams as needed.
  • Contribute to implementation and supervision of water in agriculture related lending sector studies including review of contracts and bidding documents.
  • Participation in project supervision, including day-to-day monitoring and follow-up, field supervision, review of technical /procurement documents and work programs, assessing progress with meeting key project outcomes and indicators and contributing to supervision documentation.
  • Provision of support to the definition, contracting, and supervision of the work of external consultants and technical specialists while ensuring consistency with bank guidelines and best practices.
  • Participation in and supporting Technical Assistance activities for client countries and their organizations in the areas of irrigation and water resources management
  • Participating in and supporting policy dialogue and advisory services and analytical and other knowledge activities in the water in agriculture sector, within the region and globally (through the Water in Agriculture Global Solutions Group).

Selection Criteria


  • At least a master’s degree or engineering degree in a discipline relevant to Water in Agriculture/Irrigation and Drainage (or in Water Resources Management with demonstrable affinity with the WiA sector)
  • A minimum of 5 years relevant professional and operational experience


  • Substantive international experience working on agricultural water development. Work experience and good knowledge of South/Eastern Europe and Central Asia is preferable.
  • A track record of working on irrigation and drainage projects, with specific experiences working with schemes of varying sizes and with a range of partners and contractual arrangements
  • Proven ability to work flexibly on assignments and adjust to and prioritize a variety of complex and evolving tasks; proactively seeking guidance on complex tasks or issues from senior specialists and staff
  • Strong interpersonal and team skills; ability to think strategically and to develop effective relations with clients, beneficiaries, and within the world Bank.
  • Excellent organizational, research, written, and oral presentation skills, preferably demonstrated in a track record of peer reviewed publications and delivery of presentations in relevant international forums.
  • Proven ability to work in a team and intercultural environment with minimal supervision.
  • Hands-on and action oriented and proactive approach.
  • Computer skills should be adequate for the analytical and report writing demands of this position
  • Fluency in English. Knowledge of one or more of South/Eastern European and Central Asia languages is an advantage
  • Enthusiasm for and commitment to development work; willing to travel and work in remote areas in the field.


  • 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 WBG to strengthen solutions for internal and/or external clients.
  • Make Smart Decisions - Interprets a wide range of information and pushes to move forward.


  • Knowledge and experience in Development Arena-Translates technical and cross-country knowledge into practical applications and contributions to country and sector strategy.
  • Policy dialogue skills: Anticipates needs and requests in the field and supports policy discussions on subjects such as climate change and resilience/adaptation with representatives of the government and non-government partners.
  • Integrative skills-understands relevant cross-sectoral areas how they are interrelated; able to support cross-sectoral work in lending and non-lending operations.
  • Water Policy and Strategy-Good understanding of water policies and strategies and their role in delivering outcomes to end users/customers.
  • Water institutions-Good understanding irrigation sector institutions and how they are best organized to deliver services to end users.
  • Water Financing-Good understanding of approaches to irrigation sector financing
  • Water Resources Management-Experience with water resources management and monitoring as it links to agricultural water agenda
  • Irrigation and Drainage Infrastructure and Technologies- Experience with irrigation and drainage infrastructure and technologies, with ability to apply knowledge to policy-related decisions and advice