Zimbabwe nationals: Assessment and development of a framework for the sustainable scale up of solar energy powered piped water schemes in Zimbabwe

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

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Consultancy Terms of Reference


Zimbabwe has witnessed a downward trend in coverage of access to both improved and basic water respectively over the past 17 years and the country did not meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) water target. For the period 2000 to 2017 improved water access for the rural population decreased from 71.6 to 67% whilst basic water access decreased from 58.1% to 53.5% respectively (JMP 2017).

The downward trend in rural water coverage is driven by various factors including lack of capital investment to meet growing needs, poor operation and maintenance practices for water sources including inadequate funding mechanisms, inadequate access to spares, and high running costs of piped water schemes (PWS).

An assessment of 584 rural PWS conducted by UNICEF in 2016 indicated that 49% of the schemes were non-functional. The assessment indicated that technology choice is one of the determining factors of PWS functionality and classification of the schemes by power source indicated that solar driven PWS had the lowest proportion of non-functional schemes: 50.3% of diesel powered and 17.6% of electricity driven schemes respectively were non-functional compared to 5.7% for solar powered schemes. However, of the piped water schemes assessed, solar powered schemes were installed relatively recently less than five years as compared to other technology choices hence the lower percentage of non-functionality could be expected.


UNICEF, as part of its humanitarian WASH response as well as its regular development programme, has supported the rehabilitation of over 40 small PWS in Zimbabwe all fitted with solar powered pumps. UNICEF will continue to support and advocate for the use of solarized PWS as contribution to achieving universal access to basic drinking water. The use of solar PWS will improve the level of service, reduce the time for communities to fetch water and reduce the financial burden of operation and maintenance costs. Additionally, the large-scale use of solar power can contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions.

Although anecdotal and general evidence indicate several clear advantages of solar powered water schemes, an objective performance assessment is required for solar driven systems in Zimbabwe and benchmark the results against conventional powered schemes.

The results will serve to inform the sector on solar PWS, provide the evidence-base for scaling up of the technology, and enhance sustainability of these interventions.


The use of solar powered pumps for community managed PWS in Zimbabwe is relatively new. The 2016 assessment of PWS in Zimbabwe indicated that 83 % of the assessed schemes used grid electricity or diesel, whilst only 13% used solar energy. Given the high cost of diesel and electricity combined with an unreliable supply, introducing solar power technology offers a significant opportunity at scale, particularly when PWS are being rehabilitated and/or upgraded.

It is also critical to assess the enabling and inhibiting factors that will affect the optimum utilization and sustainability of solar powered PWS in Zimbabwe.


UNICEF requires the services of a consultant to provide an evidence-based assessment of the performance of solar powered PWS under various local contexts in Zimbabwe and develop a sustainability framework to scale up the use of solar powered PWS across the country.

The main objective of the consultancy is:

  • To undertake an assessment of solar powered PWS in Zimbabwe and benchmark its performance and sustainability against conventional powered schemes.

Specific Objectives of the consultancy are as follows:

  • to assess the pros and cons of solar powered PWS;
  • to obtain life cycle cost analysis of solar energy versus conventional;
  • to analyse the performance of various solar systems under varying field and operating conditions; and
  • develop a sustainability framework for solar powered PWS in Zimbabwe

The expected output of the consultancy is a knowledge product that is relevant to the Zimbabwean context and recommendations for rehabilitation as well as construction of new schemes.


The consultant will be required to work with the National Action Committee (NAC) for Water and Sanitation structures at national, provincial, district and community level. These will include but not limited to the NAC Technical Sustainability Sub-Committee, Provincial Water and Sanitation Sub-Committee (PWSSC), District Water and Sanitation Sub-Committee (DWSSC), Ward Water and Sanitation Sub-Committee (WWSSC), Water Point Committee (WPC), Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement (MLAWCRR), District Development Fund (DDF), Rural District Councils (RDCs), Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Development Partners and communities.

Data and information will be obtained through literature review, field visits, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, semi structured interviews, technical assessment and observations.

Regular communication/feedback will be held with UNICEF and other key stakeholders to facilitate timely delivery of the project and ensure expectations of stakeholders are met within the consultancy parameters.


  1. Conduct desk review and analysis of use of various piped water scheme technology options, including use of solar power of community managed piped water schemes with a focus on sustainability, efficiency, environmental, technical and institutional aspects of the technology in Zimbabwe and globally.
  2. Undertake field visits to selected piped water schemes project sites and administer approved data collection tools to: (i) collect information from various stakeholders including inter-alia, user communities, service providers, through various tools and methods including, but not limited to Focus Group Discussion, Semi Structured Interview and administering relevant questionnaires; (ii) Assess the technological aspect of the piped water scheme power source focusing on the type of power source and document the various solar types installation in use Zimbabwe (sites may include existing systems not covered under UNICEF supported interventions).
  3. Based on the desk review and field data collected, undertake analysis (including life cycle costing and environmental benefits) of the use of solar power and benchmark the assessment findings against other PWS technology options and identify best practices.
  4. Prepare and facilitate the validation of a detailed report of the assessment findings including recommendations and framework for sustained scale up of solar piped water schemes covering but not limited to institutional arrangements, sector capacity building requirements, market analysis as well as funding models.
  5. Ground-truth the findings through case studies of solar PWS installed over 2 years ago. The case study will focus on: (i) community aspects and the operation and maintenance of the solar powered PWS; and (ii) assessment of performance of various solar pump types and installations including effects of specification, geographic location (solar radiation levels), and age in different field and operating conditions.

All deliverables will have to meet expected quality and standards as assessed by the supervisor of the assignment. Should the consultant fail to deliver as per expected quality and standards, UNICEF reserves the right to amend the payouts accordingly, or to delay them until satisfactory submission has been received.

Estimated consultancy duration  – 3 months, commencing around mid August 2020.


  • The selected individual consultant will work under the strategic guidance of the UNICEF Chief of WASH or his designated representative.
  • The individual consultant will be required to liaise with the technical sustainability sub-committee of NAC.
  • Interim deliverables to be presented in electronic copy.
  • At the end of the consultancy, consultant should submit an archive on electronic copy of all documentation processed.


The individual consultant will be responsible for ensuring that the consultancy is undertaken as described in these terms of reference and in their proposal. The individual consultant is expected to provide his/her own workspace, work equipment, and coordinate for their travel in relation of field data collection and assessments.

  • Meeting deadlines and ensuring the quality of all products and deliverables,
  • Designing of validation workshops.



The individual consultant is expected to have the following competencies


  • Advanced university degree in related field, technical sciences, civil/electrical/mechanical/renewable energy/water supply engineering, with demonstrated knowledge and experience in Zimbabwe’s rural water supply systems.
  • Minimum of 5 year demonstrated experience in qualitative and quantitative research and analysis related to WASH Service Delivery with a focus on water supply systems.
  • High technical expertise, knowledge and experience with solar power technology applied in water supply systems
  • Working knowledge of the rural WASH sector in Zimbabwe and its institutional structures at all levels
  • Experience in issues related to research, evidence generation and advocacy
  • Experience in rural community assessment, surveys and/or evaluations
  • Familiarity with emerging issues and inter sectoral linkages on climate change, equity, gender issues in relation to sustainability
  • Excellent communication skills and experience in working with a diverse range of partners including engaging government officials
  • Demonstrated evidence to produce high quality, objective and actionable reports suitable for use in decision making
  • Demonstrated ability to take initiative with a drive to achieving results
  • Experience in working with UN or similar agencies
  • Fluency in English and local languages


The consultant will be responsible for all their travel arrangements and cost as well as provision of computers and associated work equipment and space.

The consultant will use his/her own computer, office resources and materials in the execution of this assignment.

Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) for field missions outside Harare will be paid based on agreed rates between the consultant and UNICEF but conforming to UN guidelines thus is required to provide the  proposed DSA rate. Therefore, the consultant will be expected to submit a technical and all-inclusive financial proposal detailing his professional fees, travel related costs and other miscellaneous consultancy costs for delivering this assignment. The consultant will be expected to utilize own vehicles for official duty.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Please note that UNICEF does not charge a fee or require personal banking details at any stage of the recruitment process.

Opening Date Sun Jul 12 2020 03:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time) South Africa Standard Time
Closing Date Sun Jul 26 2020 17:55:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)