Communications Officer (Water and Sanitation)

Washington, DC, US

Background / General description:

Established in 1944, the WBG is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions. In fiscal year 2016, the WBG committed $47 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $16 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 – as of July 1, 2014 – has introduced 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 14 GPs are: Agriculture; Education; Energy and Extractives; Environment and Natural Resources; Finance and Markets; Governance; Health, Nutrition and Population; Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management; Poverty; Social Protection and Labor; Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience; Trade and Competitiveness; Transport and ICT; and Water. The 5 CCSAs are: Climate Change; Fragility, Conflict and Violence; Gender; Jobs; and Public-Private Partnerships.  With the ultimate objective of achieving the twin goals of:  (1) ending extreme poverty by 2030, and (2) promoting shared prosperity for the bottom 40% of the population in every developing country, the Global Practices:

Define Strategic Direction: (i) define strategic priorities to deliver solutions and achieve results based on country and regional demands and interactions and global priorities; (ii) define/implement integrated resource strategies, (iii) engage in selected, high priority partnerships, and (iv) establish robust monitoring and reporting systems.

Develop and Deploy Expertise Globally: (i) lead the development and delivery of solutions to clients by deploying the right technical staff where and when needed; and (ii) invest in developing technical talent.

Deliver Integrated Solutions: (i) deliver operations, while Regions ensure fit for purpose; (ii) develop public-private integrated solutions that draw on GPs, CCSAs, MIGA and IFC; and (iii) hold the “Concurrence” role in all project/AAA approval steps, ensuring that all technical quality, safeguard and fiduciary requirements (if applicable) are met.

Capture and Leverage Knowledge Effectively: (i) ensure knowledge is used effectively to deliver solutions to clients; (ii) assign staff roles and accountabilities in creating, capturing, sharing and using knowledge’ (iii) reward knowledge sharing and learning, in performance management and career development; and (iv) develop knowledge base around key development challenges and solutions sets.

The Water Global Practice: Context  

Water resources are under unprecedented and increasing pressures, driven by greater climate variability, population and economic growth, land use changes, and declining quantity and quality of both ground and surface water.  With cross cutting impacts on agriculture, education, energy, health, gender equity, and livelihood, water is an essential resource for all life on the planet and is at the center of economic and social development.  Successful water management requires accurate knowledge of the resource available and an assessment of competing demands for its usage. Making best use of available supplies requires complex and sensitive economic, environmental and socio-political trade-offs. Planning for a more uncertain and more constrained water environment in the future only makes the situation more complex.

The world will not be able to meet the great development challenges of the 21st century – human development, livable cities, climate change, food security, energy security, and universal access to services – unless we ensure a water-secure world for all. To achieve this goal the Global Practice will work on both water resource management and service delivery issues in a context where we focus on water in the context of the broader economy.    

The WBG is in a unique position to help governments take such an integrated and strategic approach to solve water supply, sanitation, water resource, hydropower, and irrigation problems through partnership, finance and knowledge.  The Water GP places Water Resource Management (hydrology, economics, storage, groundwater use, rivers and deltas), Service Delivery (to households, businesses and farmers), and an understanding of water in the context of the broader economy at the center of its efforts to help countries address the challenge of managing water.  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; managing the trade-offs around the agricultural use of water), disaster risk management (floods and droughts), energy (hydropower; energy cooling systems), management of rivers and deltas, and water supply & sanitation (rural and urban; utility performance; wastewater management; targeting the poor).  In each sub sector an integrated approach is adopted which considers investment and operations in the context of governance, institutions and policies.  Finally, we recognize that any focus on water will need to take into account the complex context of climate change.

The Water Global Practice is organized with: (a) region-facing Practice Managers (PMs) covering Africa, Europe and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia; (b) a PM for Global Programs; (c) a PM for Strategy and Operations, and (d) five cross-cutting Global Solutions Groups (GSGs): (i) institutions and governance for service delivery of irrigation and for (ii) urban  and rural water and sanitation, (iii) water resource management; (iv) hydropower and dams (shared with energy); and (v) water, economy and poverty.

One of the responsibilities of the GP is the management of Bank-administered partnership programs for water. Previous partnership programs have been combined into a partnership for water called the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership (GWSP). Fully aligned with the work of the Water GP, GWSP supports the GP on five priority themes where emphasis is needed to achieve the SDGs related to water: sustainability, inclusion, institutions, financing, and resilience.

Further, to accelerate the implementation of SDG6 and water-related targets, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim have convened a High Level Panel on Water (HLPW). The Panel, which includes 11 Heads of State, will provide the leadership required to champion a comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative way of developing and managing water resources, and improving water and sanitation related services. The HLPW was launched in January 2016 and has a two-year mandate until World Water Forum 2018. The Panel is supported by a Secretariat composed of the United Nations and the World Bank Group.

Strong communications and advocacy are required to move this agenda forward. In this context, the Water GP seeks a Communications Officer (CO) to join the Water GP communications team supporting the Water GP with an additional focus on GWSP and the HLPW.

Note: If the selected candidate

Duties and Accountabilities:

As an integral member of the Water GP Communications Team, the CO will be embedded in the Strategy & Operations Unit of the Water Global Practice (GWASO), reporting to the GWASO Practice Manager, and will be co-supervised by the Communications Lead for Water, who leads the Water GP Communications Team. The Officer’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

• Provide communications support for products and activities generated by GWSP and align with GP communications objectives and activities. Develop, implement, and monitor results-oriented communication plans and activities based on GWSP and Water GP objectives.

• Initiate and sustain effective professional relationships with key internal and external constituencies, including WBG country and regional staff, WBG communications, knowledge management and learning staff, donors, as well as traditional and social media outlets, civil society, academia, private sector, government, and UN system representatives.

• Identify opportunities for and forge strategic partnerships both internally and externally to advocate for and promote evidence-based, high-level development action, accountability and thought leadership – especially on sanitation and water security.

• Help implement and adapt as needed the High Level Panel on Water communications and advocacy plans; seek out and organize opportunities for stakeholder consultation and ensure feedback is addressed by the panel; Develop and maintain a timeline of events and other potential HLPW engagement opportunities

• Monitor and analyze current events and public and media/social media opinion with a view to risk and opportunity management. Advise on new developments or changing circumstances that may impact the GP’s work, and work with the Communications Lead to help determine appropriate strategic responses to address them.

• Work with the Communications Lead, the Water GP’s Global Leads, and the Regional Practice Managers to identify, write, and coordinate timing and channels to share project and program result stories, the lessons from which offer high potential for uptake and impact among global audiences.

• Provide high quality content and work with the GP’s digital team to better leverage and promote content via digital channels.  

• With inputs from water technical staff, draft/prepare content, including feature stories, op-eds, news releases, and talking points.

• Lead coordination of communications projects, including events with external visibility, release of major flagships, annual cartoon calendar, visual identity guidelines, and donor materials.

• Design and produce and otherwise prepare and/or coordinate digital products, including Powerpoint presentations, social media postcards, and other materials for delivery to various audiences.

• Identify results indicators and track

Selection Criteria:

Master’s degree in Communications, International Relations/Public Affairs, Journalism, Political Science or related disciplines, with 5 years of experience, or equivalent combination of education and experience.

• Demonstrates native level English writing skills and proficiency to write and edit complex communications products for purposeful structure, clarity of ideas, and logical, persuasive presentation.

• Demonstrated experience communicating to advocate for change on a global scale, to promote new ideas and products, and to engage a variety of stakeholders

• Demonstrates ability to nurture and maintain relationships and communications with critical internal and external constituencies and stakeholders. Strong media and civil society relations track record. Familiarity with water sector stakeholders a plus.

• Demonstrates ability to think strategically and rapidly analyze diverse information from varied sources, qualitative and quantitative.

• Demonstrates an understanding of the potential for the Water GP to contribute to achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals

• Demonstrates ability and the necessary personal organization and project management skills to take initiative, personal ownership, and accountability to meet deadlines, work under pressure, and achieve agreed-upon results.  

• Solid understanding of development topics and ability to identify communications-related opportunities and risks in an international environment.

• Demonstrates understanding of water resources management, agricultural water management, and hydropower issues, as well as key relevant facets such as gender and climate.

• Successful experience with event, digital, and print communications, planning and production to promote, lead and position in strategic actual and virtual spaces

• Experience working with World Bank administered partnership programs and their donors considered a plus.

• Experience with coordination of small to medium sized teams.

• Demonstrates ability for teamwork in a multicultural environment.

• Experience working with senior executives and a diverse range of donors preferred

• Capacity in other languages (e.g., French, Portuguese, or Spanish) is desirable.

• Advanced proficiency in Microsoft Windows applications, namely Excel, Word and Power Point. Adobe Photoshop, In Design, Flash, Dreamweaver considered a plus. Demonstrated ability to learn new technology quickly and effectively use it for maximum productivity.

• Excellent presentation skills.


• Communication Strategy and Execution in International Development – Independently develops, implements communication plans for moderately complex projects and can use feedback to improve work in communications and operations. Contributes to the development of expertise in this competency in others.

• Social Media, Information Channels, and Communication Tools Awareness – Modifies communication strategies to leverage existing or new communication tools or media. Leverages WBG’s Knowledge Management products to establish knowledge sharing partnerships internally. Contributes to others’ development in this competency.

• Access to Information Policy – Uses WBG’s Access to Information Policy when consulting on the development, design, and delivery of communications products. Demonstrates in-depth proficiency sufficient to develop others in this competency.

• Content Development and Editing- Takes full responsibility for the development of communication content. Ensures the development of communications products to the WBG standard. Contributes to the development of expertise in this competency in others.

• Relationship Management, Political Awareness and Diplomacy- Strategizes, plans, and implements the development and maintenance of relationships with critical internal and/or external constituencies. Systematically maintains and leverages high-level communication networks within key constituencies.

• Client Understanding and Advising- Looks at issues from the client’s perspective and advocates for clients within own area so as to focus on meeting client needs.

• Broad Business Thinking- Maintains an in-depth understanding of the long term implications of decisions both for related areas within the VPU and the client’s business. Involves key players in identifying operating needs, issues and immediate solutions.

• 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.

• Shareholder and Stakeholder Engagement – Analyzes and provides advice on Shareholder and Stakeholder engagement.

• Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively with internal/external partners in a multicultural environment.

• Ability to work effectively under stress; ability to prioritize and juggle multiple, ambiguous tasks within tight deadlines.

• Excellent computer skills; ability to use standard Bank technology packages, e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Internet, Excel, HTML, etc.

The World Bank Group is committed to achieving diversity in terms of gender, nationality, culture and educational background.  Individuals with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply.