Program Manager via Idealist

Abundant Water

About Abundant Water

Abundant Water is a Canberra based NGO with programs in Lao PDR and Timor Leste working to help remote communities stop disease and death by providing access to clean water. 

In Laos, Abundant Water delivers health and hygiene benefits by using the power of social business to design and develop sustainable and scalable clean drinking water projects. Working in remote rural areas, we train local potters and vendors to launch scalable micro-businesses as part of our social business model, ensuring their communities have a supply of clean water into the future. Our mission is to empower individuals and communities to secure their own sustainable access to safe water. 

For more information about Abundant Water check out our website:


The Lao PDR Program Manager (PM) will be responsible for Abundant Water’s (AW) operations, organisational direction, and results in Lao PDR. The PM reports directly to the AW CEO and Board of Directors. Key competencies required are on-ground management skills with a willingness to engage in a practical hands-on approach to problem solving, strategic direction, monitoring and evaluation, an understanding of both WASH and Social Business, and budget oversight.

This is a full-time position with a preferred commitment of at least 2 years. The core responsibilities will be delivering on AW’s current program commitments and contributing to the growth of the organisation in line with the strategic direction of the organisation, including: coordination of the filter-making workshop; managing AW’s local staff; financial accounting; developing partnerships and opportunities with local and international NGOs; and improving the AW water filter technology, social business model, and WASH program through monitoring and evaluation as well as research and development.

You will represent AW at outside meetings with potential funders or influencers, and work alongside staff at events and receptions. This role will encompass duties that are both managerial and practical in nature.

This position is ideal for someone who would like to expand their skill set in the international development sector. As this is a small organisation with a start-up atmosphere, you will have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of running an international humanitarian NGO. While there is an element of administration work, the position will very much be “hands-on” working directly with the local staff and our partners on the ground as you strive towards our goal of increasing access to clean drinking water in remote villages in Laos.

Key Responsibilities

As the Lao PDR Program Manager you will be responsible to:

  • Manage current program commitments, including reporting to the Board on key milestones 
  • Manage the AW filter-making compound and workshop in Vientiane, Lao PDR
  • Manage a team of 5 AW local staff and 1-2 interns in Vientiane; including overseeing their welfare and their recruitment
  • Administer AW finances and accounts in Laos
  • Monitor & evaluate impact of existing projects; implement feedback regarding technology development both in the Vientiane workshop and in the field
  • Manage existing AW partnerships and donors in Laos and seek to develop new opportunities of mutual benefit. 
  • Identify and develop new projects and partnerships to enable AW to realize its strategic objectives. 
  • Report to the AW Board of Directors in Australia on organizational and operational matters in Laos
  • Conduct monitoring, assessment and evaluation on the overall project progress, including identified risks and mitigation measures, and provide feedback and suggestions on modification and change to the Board of Directors

Along with the Board of Directors, you will be accountable for:

  • ensuring that AW has a clear vision, mission and strategic direction, and is focused on achieving these
  • working in partnership with other Directors, the CEO, and other volunteers.
  • being responsible for the performance of AW in Laos and for its corporate behaviour
  • ensuring that AW complies with all legal and regulatory requirements in Laos
  • acting as guardians of AW’s assets, both tangible and intangible, taking all due care over their security, deployment and proper application
  • ensuring that the AW’s governance is of the highest possible standard

Desired Outputs

By mid-2020 the PM will:

  • lead the workshop in Vientiane, in the Lao language, to successfully meet filter production demand
  • develop a strong working relationship with AW partners which sees the AW filter WASH program meeting the needs of priority areas in rural Lao PDR
  • be able to lead program management of existing projects, including having an understanding of key milestones and funding requirements, with limited intervention and support from the CEO and Board 
  • developing and growing the social business program 
  • contribute to monthly Board Director meetings – including updates and papers regarding the Lao PDR country program
  • shared ownership of developing a strategic plan for the Lao PDR program in collaboration with the AW CEO 

Duty station

The PM will be based in Vientiane, Lao PDR. Regular trips to remote areas of Lao PDR will be required for purposes of Monitoring & Evaluation, and to scout potential new village partnerships. The PM is expected to attend the monthly board meeting via teleconference.


Travel throughout Lao PDR is expected


The Program Manager will be appointed for a 2-year term. This is a full-time position, however there are no “typical” working hours as would be the case with a 9-5 job and work hours may increase due to demands imposed by periods of high tempo work. It is expected that this appointment will start in November-December 2019 to include up to 6 months of handover with the current in-country program manager. Start date is negotiable with the successful candidate.


Salary is US$1500 per month in addition to benefits outlined below

Accommodation and health insurance included in the package

20 days of paid annual leave

Professional development funding of up to US$1000

Work travel will be covered by AW

There is no re-location allowance available

Preferred Competencies:

  • A self-starter who has the ability to work with minimal direct supervision
  • Work experience in Laos (or elsewhere in the Mekong region); Thai or Lao language skills are also a plus. Experience working in any developing country context is useful.
  • A background and or understanding of WASH is essential
  • Experience in non-profit, humanitarian, and/or development work
  • A demonstrated capacity to succeed and lead in an environment that is unpredictable, complex, sometimes ambiguous, and rapidly changing
  • Demonstrated ability to be flexible, adaptable, resilient and to learn in a fast paced environment
  • A demonstrated ability to develop and maintain relationships and partnerships across organizations
  • Demonstrated strong cross-cultural communication skills and understanding. Experience managing (including training and mentoring) a culturally diverse team in an international setting and/or in a different language would be a strong asset. 
  • The ability to work to a regular monthly budget, oversee operating expenses, and manage petty cash needs
  • A knowledge of or interest in social business, including an understanding or experience of basic business planning, in development contexts would be preferred
  • A qualification in a relevant field – such as anthropology, sociology, water resources management, development, or environmental science.



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