Bangladesh nationals: National Consultant, WASH (Development of communication strategy and IEC/BCC materials for arsenic contamination risk mitigation)

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
8-9 Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)


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According to WHO, Arsenic is a natural component of the earth’s crust and is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form. The greatest threat to public health from arsenic originates from contaminated groundwater. Inorganic arsenic is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater of a number of countries including Bangladesh. Drinking-water, crops irrigated with contaminated water and food prepared with contaminated water are the sources of exposure.

Immediate symptoms of acute arsenic poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea which are followed by numbness and tingling of the extremities, muscle cramping and death. The first symptoms of long-term exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic (for example, through drinking-water and food) are usually observed in the skin, and include pigmentation changes, skin lesions and hard patches on the palms and soles of the feet (hyperkeratosis). These occur after a minimum exposure of approximately five years and may be a precursor to skin cancer.

In addition to skin cancer, long-term exposure to arsenic may also cause cancers of the bladder and lungs. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified arsenic and arsenic compounds as carcinogenic to humans and has also stated that arsenic in drinking-water is carcinogenic to humans. Other adverse health effects that may be associated with long-term ingestion of inorganic arsenic include developmental effects, diabetes, pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease. It is also associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes and infant mortality, impacting on child health, exposure in utero and in early childhood has been linked to increases in mortality in young adults due to multiple cancers, lung disease, heart attacks, and kidney failure. Numerous studies have demonstrated negative impacts of arsenic exposure on cognitive development, intelligence, and memory.

According to WHO the most important action in affected communities is the prevention of further exposure to arsenic by the provision of a safe water supply for drinking, food preparation and irrigation of food crops which must be coupled with adequate education. There are several options to reduce levels of arsenic in drinking-water:

• Substitute high-arsenic sources, such as groundwater, with low-arsenic, microbiologically safe sources such as rainwater and treated surface water. Low-arsenic water can be used for drinking, cooking and irrigation purposes, whereas high-arsenic water can be used for other purposes such as bathing and washing clothe

• Discriminate between high-arsenic and low-arsenic sources. Testing water for arsenic levels and paint tube wells or hand pumps different colours. This can be an effective and low-cost means to rapidly reduce exposure to arsenic when accompanied by effective education.

• Blend low-arsenic water with higher-arsenic water to achieve an acceptable arsenic concentration level.

•Install arsenic removal systems – either centralized or domestic – and ensure the appropriate disposal of the removed arsenic.

Education and community engagement are key factors for ensuring successful interventions. There is a need for community members to understand the risks of high arsenic exposure and the sources of arsenic exposure, including the intake of arsenic by crops (e.g. rice) from irrigation water and the intake of arsenic into food from cooking water.

High-risk populations should also be monitored for early signs of arsenic poisoning – usually skin problems.[1]

It is known to everyone that after the discovery of arsenic in groundwater in Bangladesh in 1993 safe drinking water coverage reduced from 97% to an estimated 73%. To combat the situation several mitigation efforts have been taken through different projects over the last two decades by the government and stakeholders. The efforts have focused on mass testing and marking; switching consumers from unsafe to safe water sources, provision of safe deep tube wells and action research on community and household based arsenic water treatment devices. Behaviour change and arsenic mitigation water awareness campaigns have always been a major part of the mitigation efforts. UNICEF always played a key role in this mitigation efforts through developing  communication strategy to raise awareness of arsenic contamination and its effects; development of protocol for field tests of water supplies, supported the blanket testing of tube-wells; identification of patients with arsenic poisoning and providing assistance to communities to obtain safe water supplies.

Despite all these initiatives although basic drinking water service coverage is 98 percent, only 42.6 percent household members have access with an improved drinking water source located on premises, free from E. coli and arsenic within the range of National Standard. 11.8 percent and 10.6 percent household population have over 50 ppb arsenic concentration in their source water and drinking water respectively.[2]. In order to support the Government to achieve national priorities  in providing safe drinking water to all its urban and rural population, with the partnership from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UNICEF started its “Support to the Government of Bangladesh to Strengthen Institutional Systems to Ensure Water Safety Rights for all” project.

In order to achieve better outcome of the project it is necessary to change current harmful behaviour among the community. One of the major components for changing this harmful behaviour is adequate use of appropriate behaviour change materials. Currently available materials were developed more than a decade

ago which lack presence of current development of knowledge, initiatives and technologies to address this issue. At the same time, they also lack target specific components for specific group of people crucial for creating demand to drink water from a safe source.

As a result there is a need to have updated materials according to the current development of knowledge, initiatives and technologies to mitigate this important  public health issue and in line with that contemporary communication channels which will help proper communication to targeted community so that they can perceive the knowledge at the same time translate it into practice such as drinking water from arsenic safe alternative source, regular testing of tube wells with marking, making connection with the drillers, identifying symptoms of arsenic problems at very preliminary stage and appropriate health seeking behaviour. Prior to that it is necessary to identify exiting messages, their delivery channels, their bottlenecks, what works and what doesn’t work etc.

Therefore, the project will review existing key communication messages & delivery mechanisms in order to develop a harmonized communication strategy with a robust communication matrix/grid. A number of behaviour change communication materials will be developed to change attitudes and develop new skills among people, elites in the community and private sectors. Messages under this component will include:

1.For different target population in the Community  

  • Mobilizing community people of different clusters particularly women to create demand for 100% arsenic testing & marking of tube wells.
  • Promotion of the use of certified drillers that target arsenic safe aquifers.
  • The promotion of the conjunctive use of water by women and men to reduce arsenic exposure risks (i.e. use rainwater in the monsoon, surface water for irrigating & boiling rice).
  • Raising awareness on the arsenic risks associated with shallow aquifers.
  • Awareness on identifying symptoms related to arsenic contamination and appropriate health seeking behaviour.
  • Implement water safety plans to address bacterial risks

2. For users and drillers: Raising awareness on the arsenic risks associated with shallow aquifers.

3. For owners: Responsibility to water asset owners including women to screen tube wells for arsenic and implement water safety plans to address bacterial risks.

4. Awareness on disposal of arsenic-rich sludge.

For the development of these behaviour change communication strategy for arsenic contamination risk mitigation, appropriate materials and identifying their appropriate channels considering the different local context of the project areas recruitment of a national consultant is required who will work closely with WASH and C4D section.

Purpose of Activity/Assignment:

Purpose of Assignment:

The main purpose of the assignment is to develop behaviour change communication materials and their appropriate channels considering the different local context of three upazilas of Comilla, Sylhet and Khulna. BCC materials should be interactive.  The deliverables of the consultant would include –

1. Consultant’s proposal which will include

  • Introducing delineating problem statement related to arsenic mitigation
  • Desk review of existing materials
  • Simple assessment of what is required to have an effective IEC/BCC material for arsenic mitigation and accordingly decide on the deliverables
  • Proposed methodology of BCC material development
  • Description of deliverables and a timeline
  • Work plan
  • Description of outputs
  • A financial proposal; and
  • CV of consultant

2.Report on field visit for understanding the need and identify mode of communication channels.

3. Communication strategy for arsenic mitigation with communication matrix/grid

4.Report on consultation with UNICEF, DPHE personal, stakeholders, health professionals, community people etc. 

5.A copy of draft communication materials

6.Report on sharing meeting with the UNICEF and DPHE personal and incorporating inputs after field testing

- Final material prepared and submitted after sharing and incorporation of inputs if any.

- Submission of final approved product (printed material/TVC etc) to UNICEF. 


Final product should be submitted to UNICEF at the end of consultancy which will include

  1. Communications strategy which will include a robust communication matrix for arsenic risk mitigation.
  2. Final approved product (printed material/TVC etc.) as identified in communication strategy.

[1] Key facts on Arsenic retrieved from

[2] MICS survey 2019

Major Tasks/Milestone:

  • Desk review of existing materials. Simple assessment of what is required to have an effective IEC/BCC material for arsenic mitigation and accordingly decide on the deliverables.  
  • Discussion with UNICEF and DPHE personal.
  • Field visit to understand the need
  • Communication strategy on arsenic awareness  
  • Draft material preparation
  • Sharing with the UNICEF and DPHE personal and incorporating inputs
  • Field testing
  • Final material prepared and sharing and incorporation of inputs (if any).
  • Finalize and materials ready for printing  

Deliverables/Outputs:  Timeline

  • Small proposal produced- 5 days
  • One meeting conducted and report produced. - 5 days
  • One Field visit report submitted- 15 days
  • One communication strategy developed- 10 days
  • One set of draft material developed and submitted- 30 days
  • One meeting conducted, minutes produced, and inputs incorporated. - 5 days
  • Field visit report submitted -10 days
  • One set of final draft material submitted - 5 days
  • One set of final BCC/IEC material submitted -7 days

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

Knowledge/Expertise/Skills required:

  • Master’s in social sciences (sociology, anthropology and rural development), public health and/or communication related sciences. Further advanced degrees will be an advantage.
  • Proven experience with social communication/marketing in relation to WASH and Health issues.
  • Must have experiences of developing communication strategies and developing IEC materials for UN, GoB or any other agencies.
  • Experience in design of multi-level, cross sectoral C4D/SBCC interventions at national and sub-national levels.
  • Minimum Eight-Year experience in social development planning and evaluation;
  • Must have proven writing skills in English, as well as good analytical and presentation skills
  • Prior experience of working with UN agencies and / or other child rights organization will be important;
  • Knowledge of the socio-economic barriers to gender equality and social inclusion, behavior change and WASH issues in country is necessary.
  • Prior experience on developing Arsenic mitigation communication material will be an asset.

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.

The functional competencies required for this post are...

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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.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

Advertised: 22 Nov 2020 Bangladesh Standard Time
Deadline: 07 Dec 2020 Bangladesh Standard Time