Senior Water Resources Specialist

Washington, DC, US

Background / General description:

Established in 1944, the World Bank Group (WBG) is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions. In the fiscal year of 2014, the WBG committed $65.6 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $22.2 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 World Bank Group is in a unique position to help governments take an integrated and strategic approach to solve water supply, sanitation, water resource, hydropower and irrigation problems through finance and knowledge.  The world will not be able to meet the great development challenges of the 21st century – human development, livable cities, climate change, food security, and energy security – without improving how countries manage their water resources. Even today, 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation, of which 1 billion people practice open defecation.  Poor sanitation, including inadequate wastewater collection and treatment, impacts health, education, the environment, and industries such as tourism.  At least 800 million people lack access to safe drinking water.  The lack of access to safe water and sanitation results in significant economic losses in many countries.     

The Water Global Practice (Water GP) places Water Resource Management (hydrology, economics, storage, groundwater use, etc.) at the center of its efforts to help countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.  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), disaster risk management, energy (hydropower), and water supply & sanitation (rural and urban, assisting utilities on efficiency and financial sustainability; targeting the poor).  In each sub sector an integrated approach is adopted which considers investment alongside issues such as governance, institutions and policies.

The World Bank is the largest external source of financing for water supply and sanitation projects, and also has a large and growing portfolio in irrigation and water resource management.  The Water GP is supervising a portfolio of over US$ 20 billion and another US$ 7.1 billion of water operations are managed by other GPs. The Water GP also manages a large program of analytical and technical assistance activities. The World Bank Water GP comprises of approximately 315 staff working across the full range of the water sector agenda including rural and urban sanitation, provision of water services, integrated water resource management as well as irrigation.   

South Asia, home to about a quarter of the global population (of which 80% is rural) but has less than 5% of the world’s renewable water resource. Low per capita availability, coupled with a very high relative level of water use makes South Asia the most water insecure region of the world, with increasing impacts on economic development. Water stress continues to increase, water management is challenged by weak governance and limited institutional capacity, as well major gaps in key water resources infrastructure. Groundwater is over-exploited in key agricultural areas and major and difficult cross-sectoral reforms are required. To add to the complexity, South Asia is the most vulnerably region to climate change, the impacts of which are expected to primarily play out through the water sector. Building resilience in the water sector though structure adaptation to climate change, population growth and urbanization is an increasing priority for the country.

The World Bank is currently looking for a senior water resources specialist specializing in groundwater management to join the South Asia water team. The World Bank’s regional portfolio is in South Asia is over $5B of lending, of which around half is for water supply and sanitation and half for water resource and irrigation projects and a strong focus in India. These projects span irrigation, major dams, river restoration, IWRM and river basin planning, water resources monitoring, modelling and assessment. Her/his work program will focus on South Asia but could also include assignments in other regions of the world.

Note: If the selected candidate is a current Bank Group staff member with a Regular or Open-Ended appointment, s/he will retain his/her Regular or Open-Ended appointment. All others will be offered a 3 year term appointment.


The focus of the position will include groundwater management lending, policy dialogue, and analytics.

The senior water resources specialist will play a key role in the strategic, advisory, and operational work of the water practice in South Asia but also encompassing other countries. The senior water resources specialist’s primary responsibilities will be to lead and provide technical inputs to the preparation, appraisal, negotiation and supervision of complex water projects.  S/he will actively participate in overseeing implementation of water operations with the aim to enhance quality and accelerate implementation.  

The senior water resources specialist should lead an active Bank policy dialogue with clients and other stakeholders on strategic groundwater issues and implementation of the region’s ongoing water sector reforms.  This includes the promotion of transboundary water management. The senior water resources specialist will also maintain sufficient knowledge of individual operations and activities (including those not managed by him/her) to be able to identify and help resolve project-specific or systemic issues.  

The candidate will be required to lead and contribute to analytical and advisory work. This includes supporting the development of national and regional analytical activities and advising governments.  In doing this, the senior water resources specialist will be expected to forge partnerships with organizations and individuals which can both better inform the Bank’s groundwater strategies, and also result in higher quality implementation and impact of Bank-supported programs. This will require effective communication and outreach to key stakeholders including client governments, academia, civil society organizations, media, other development partners and other Bank units.

Selection Criteria:

• A Master’s degree, in a field relevant to water resources management including civil and environmental engineering, water management, natural resources management, economics, or other related fields;

• A minimum of ten years relevant professional experience in groundwater management. The candidate’s track record should combine both engineering/technical expertise as well as knowledge of institutional and economic groundwater issues;

• Experience in water resources management and regional water resources challenges in the South Asia would be an advantage;

• Proven record in coordinating and/or managing a large, complex, multi-disciplinary program on water or natural resources.  Program management experience in international institutions/companies is a plus;

• Experience in leading teams and demonstrated qualities of leadership. Experience with multi-sectoral teams particularly desirable;

• A track record of good external client relations skills at all levels of seniority;

• High level of energy, initiative and flexibility in quickly adjusting to changing work program requirements;

• Excellent oral and written communication skills, in particular ability to effectively dialogue with and relate to clients and stakeholders;

• Proficiency in English is essential. Proficiency in French is desirable.


• Client Orientation – Translates insight into practice across disciplines, hierarchies, geographies and organizational units in service of clients.

• Drive for Results – Ensures successful implementation and delivery of key programs and projects, ensuring that outputs positively impact results.

• Teamwork (Collaboration) and Inclusion – Creates a team climate of practical and innovative action, facilitating collaboration between competing interests and stakeholders.

• Knowledge, Learning and Communication – Demonstrates command of all forms of communication and presents in a clear, objective and engaging manner in high-level settings; ensures knowledge is captured and shared in a variety of ways.