Sri Lanka nationals: National Legal Specialist

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Colombo, , LK

Organizational Setting

The project “Knowing Water Better: Towards fairer and more sustainable access to natural resources for greater food security (KnoWat)” aims to strengthen water governance processes in three countries – Senegal, Rwanda and Sri Lanka– so that they are better prepared to ensure food security and adapt to climate change, and for managing increased competition for water resources in a more equitable and sustainable manner. The practical importance of law in connection with how people access and use water, will tend to increase with water scarcity and increased competition for water. For this, the project promotes an integrated approach to arrive at a comprehensive methodology for the assessment of water resources that takes into account not only the biophysical aspects, but also the policy, legal and socio-economic aspects of water use. 

The legal component of this project, whose implementation is overseen by the Development Law Service (LEGN), requires the assessment of the legal elements of the rights, rules and relationships of people to access water resources. The legal assessment will result in a description of the existing formal statutory and informal customary frameworks governing the right to access, extract and use water for all purposes, including for food and agriculture. It should also identify country specific terminology to describe the concept of people’s rights, rules and practices to access water resources in order to arrive at a clear understanding of what this comprises in the country context so as to support better governance of water resources. Secondly, a qualitative assessment will be undertaken, based on a set of standard legal assessment criteria, as well as any specific criteria to be defined by the Project, in collaboration with national counterparts.


Reporting Lines


She or he will be working under the overall guidance of the FAO Representative in Sri Lanka and direct supervision of the Assistant FAO Representative/ Programme and with technical supervision by the KnoWat National Project Coordinator and with technical backstopping from the International Legal Expert and LEGN.

Technical Focus

The project aims not only to assess formal and customary relationships between people and water resources in a country, but also to develop a standard methodology for their assessment, which could be adapted based on a country’s requests and also potentially replicated in other countries. LEGN will be responsible for the development of the part of the methodology concerning the legal aspects of rights and rules to access water by developing a template for their legal in this context.

Tasks and responsibilities

Identify and describe all primary and secondary statutory legislation in Sri Lanka related to water and formal or customary relationships between people and water resources, using a template provided by FAO.. Review and validate the content of the profile with the international consultant and the relevant national authorities. Conduct a legal assessment of statutory law based on analytical elements to be determined together with the national counterparts and project steering committee, including the international legal consultant, and produce an assessment report with key findings, gaps analysis and related recommendations. Review and validate the content of the template and analytical assessment report with the international consultant and the relevant national counterparts, including those responsible for the relevant legal framework. Prepare an executive summary of the assessment report in local language (Sinhalese).


In collaboration with the project anthropologist with expertise on local customs, and the national project team, visit local sites and interview local populations and representatives, including of women and other identified groups, in West Sub Catchment (Nachchaduwa to Thantrimale) in Malwathu Oya River basin, to identify and record all legitimate water rights, including traditional, customary, informal, communal/collective rights and practices regarding the ownership, abstraction and use of water.In relation to the above, complete a template  provided by FAO, based on the information gathered and integrate with any existing research and literature on the subject area. In addition, identify, through interviews with local populations, current concerns and issues relating to water rights, including any in relation to land tenure, and produce a report with those findings.


Review and validate the content of the customary law template and the additional report on issues of concern with the international consultant and the relevant national authorities;


In consultation with the international consultant, submit a separate short report identifying and analyzing areas where the formal and informal regimes match, conflict, complement each other, or otherwise, paying particular attention to the gender-sensitiveness and land tenure links to water access and use, of both formal and informal regimes; including recommendations how conflicts between formal and informal regimes can be overcome. Prepare an executive summary of this report in local language (Sinhalese).


Support the work of the international consultant in the development of the methodology for assessing the legal aspects of formal and/or customary relationships between people and water resources and developing a related template for legal assessments, which takes into account the results of the completed and validated country profiles and analytical reports produced under points 1 and 2 above, and specifically reflect any national definitions and approaches to water rights, as well as other elements, as directed by the international consultant and by the national project team;


Support the international consultant in the preparation of his/her missions, facilitate contacts with national authorities, the private sector, civil society organizations, women’s and youth groups if present, and facilitate access to relevant documents and information;


 Participate in project meetings and national validation workshops, present findings and conclusions related to legal assessments of formal or customary relationships between people and water resources and development of the related methodology under items 1- 4 above; and contribute to analysis, discussions and recommendations in the context of the wider framework of water governance, including accounting, in consultation with the international consultant and the national project team;


Prepare regular activity reports under items 1-4 for review by the international consultant and the Legal Officer, LEGN; 8. Prepare short reports of meetings and workshops with main points discussed, conclusions and action points for review by the international consultant and the Legal Officer, LEGN;


Contribute, in close collaboration with the Land and Water Tenure Specialist and the international consultant and the project team, to completing and revising the global methodology to assess water governance and access with focus on the legal analysis, ensuring synergies and links;

Perform other related duties, as required.
Minimum Requirements
  • A university degree in law, with focus on environmental, natural resources, development of agriculture in Sri Lanka
  • A minimum of three to five years of experience in related fields.
  • Familiarity with water law, dispute resolution procedures, human rights law applicable to food security and nutrition are considered an asset.
  • Excellent analytical and report drafting skills in English
  • Must be a Sri Lankan National
FAO Core Competencies
  • Results Focus
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Building Effective Relationships
  • Knowledge Sharing and Continuous Improvement
Selection Criteria
  • Flexibility and tact to work with multidisciplinary teams.
  • Ability to conduct analytical work under pressure and meet agreed dates.
  • Knowledge of the operation and procedures in social surveys.