Wastewater and Water Quality Data Technical Specialist

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

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Result of Service

1. Improved integration and harmonization of the methodologies developed by UNSD/UNEP and OECD/Eurostat to calculate the global flows of wastewater generated and treated for monitoring indicator 6.3.1.
2. Availability of wastewater data from 10-20 countries which are not yet reporting to international databases on wastewater generation and/or treatment, and capacity developed to enable those countries populate the international databases.
3. Advanced database of global monitoring information on SDG 6.3.1 prepared in collaboration with co-custodian agencies.
4. Comprehensive technical input provided to global progress report on SDG 6.3.1 in collaboration with other co-custodian agencies, based on analysis of available data and improvements in methodologies.
5. Enhanced sanitation and wastewater monitoring framework developed to provide effective informed investments and local decision-making
6. Enhanced regional partnerships and trainings/webinars undertake to support the monitoring of SDG indicator 6.3.1. in the LAC, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions (possibly the Arab States).
7. Capacity of wastewater practitioners facilitated by providing training courses on wastewater management and monitoring and other key areas such as climate change adaptation and water resources management.
8. Knowledge documented and awareness raised on safe wastewater reuse among the international communities and water practitioners in the context of SDG indicator 6.3.1. Proposal for future activities developed.
9. Collaboration improved with UN Environment to on the links between SDG indicators 6.3.1 and 6.3.2.
10. Enhanced understanding of wastewater monitoring systems for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance and recommendations for continued work in support of national and local mandated authorities.
11. Contribute to UN Habitat’s efforts in the design and preparation of project proposals, and UN Water activities.

Work Location



Expected duration

12 months

Duties and Responsibilities

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), is the UN agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
UN-Habitat is tasked to improve the access to sustainable wastewater management services by improving policies and guidelines in partnership with local, regional and national authorities, enhancing the enabling environment for investments in sustainable wastewater management services with a focus on urban areas of all sizes. The Urban Basic Services Section is responsible for the implementation of a Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) project on monitoring SDG 6, as part of the Integrated Monitoring Initiative for SDG 6 (GEMI) convened by UN-Water. GEMI is an inter-agency partnership comprising The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), The World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
As the agency in the UN system responsible for urban development, UN-Habitat has for many years been leading operational initiatives on urban water, sanitation and waste management. In addition to producing flagship publications such as the State of Water and Sanitation in the World’s Cities and the Global Biosolid Atlas, it has developed monitoring tools such as the UN-Habitat Urban Inequities Surveys (UIS), which were used to monitor and report on the slum target under the MDGs. UN-Habitat continues to contribute experience on integration of national and local level data to strengthen progress estimates on SDG indicator 6.3.1 and in other relevant areas.
In addition to leading the component on industrial wastewater and coordinating with WHO, which is leading the component on domestic wastewater, UN-Habitat has in-house expertise on WRM and water use efficiency in urban areas. Their contribution to include administrative data is supported by the UN-Habitat Global Water Operators’ Partnership Alliance (GWOPA). Finally, UN-Habitat’s extensive experience in urban monitoring, gained through the use of its UIS and other tools, will be drawn upon to support the proposed work.

Duties and Responsibilities

The consultant will be home-based and report to the Programme Officer responsible for the GEMI project within the Urban Basic Services Section.

The Consultant will be responsible for the following tasks:

i. Update and consolidate the methodology (UN-Water guidance document for countries and metadata of indicator 6.3.1) for monitoring the flow of total wastewater generated and safely treated. This will be done in close collaboration with UN-Water GEMI partners WHO and UNSD as co-custodian agencies for SDG 6.3.1 and in partnership with OECD, Eurostat and FAO. The consultant will be expected to consult with these and other relevant partners on (1) data collection process, (2) country data, and (3) comparison of metadata and terminology used in their questionnaires to contribute to harmonizing international wastewater data collection. The consultant will also propose new variables on wastewater issues (e.g. pollutant loads and wastewater reuse) and work with UNSD/UNEP and OECD/Eurostat on inclusion of these variables in the Questionnaire on Environment Statistics and/or in the OECD/Eurostat Joint Questionnaire on Inland Waters, respectively, to increase the availability of data to populate the SDG Indicator 6.3.1.
ii. Work closely with SDG 6.3.1 co-custodian agencies WHO and UNSD in support of a coherent repository of monitoring information on the SDG6.3.1 indicator. In this context, the consultant will review and exploit the wastewater data from relevant databases and check for data accuracy and consistency. Depending on available data, the consultant will be responsible to produce graphics, aggregate wastewater data by regions, build time series and ensure that the data is included in a global database used to determine SDG6.3.1 progress.
iii. Collect disaggregated wastewater data from 10-15 countries that are not currently reporting such data, by working through official national SDG reporting mechanisms and other means. The consultant will support countries to progressively align with international definitions and standards, by encouraging and assisting them in reporting to indicator 6.3.1 and to the existing international databases.
iv. Contribute technical inputs in support of the second progress report on SDG6.3.1 including updated statistical information, drafting of report sections and related documentation. This will require close collaboration with WHO and UNSD as co-custodian agencies for SDG indicator 6.3.1.
v. Facilitate regional collaborative processes in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia-Pacific (possibly extended to the Arab States) on monitoring indicator 6.3.1 methodology by sharing good practices in terms of both monitoring and safe wastewater management, in consultation with relevant institutions including urban (waste)water utilities.
vi. Develop an enhanced methodology to source, monitor and aggregate utility and other city-level sanitation and wastewater data. This will require an assessment and identification of gaps of existing monitoring methodologies.

vii. Development of an assessment tool for SDG6.2 and 6.3 to determine city/utility coverage levels of sanitation and wastewater services, especially in low income areas. This should include a review of existing assessment tools for sanitation and wastewater services, particularly (but not exclusively) those developed using the City-Wide Inclusive Sanitation approach.
viii. Co-facilitate training courses to build capacity on wastewater management and achieving and monitoring SDG indicators 6.3.1 and 6.3.2 (Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality), and on other key areas to improve practitioners’ understanding of impacts of climate change on water resources and people, and considers the interlinkages among different sectors.
ix. Develop a knowledge product on safe wastewater reuse, using examples of lessons learned and various management and technology solutions to encourage safe wastewater reuse (policies) and climate change adaptation measures.
x. Outline options for development of an activity/proposal on wastewater reuse in urban settings, incl. resource mobilization opportunities. Such activity should consider the linkages between indicators 6.3.1 and 6.3.2 “Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality” by focusing on the links between wastewater treatment and ambient water quality.
xi. Review current research on SARS-CoV-2 monitoring in wastewater and provide recommendations for UN-Habitat’s work in this area, especially in supporting cities to establish surveillance schemes that correlates virus concentration in wastewater with affected populations. This should include review of supported project activities and suggest options for assistance to pilot developing countries to monitor virus circulation in wastewater streams (subject to available funds). The consultant will be expected to consult with external partners as deemed necessary.
xii. Communication and outreach: Preparation and design of outreach materials for selected projects and activities of UN-Habitat and UN-Water on the topic of wastewater monitoring, as well as in the design and preparation of project proposals, publications, position papers and other internal and external communication and fundraising products.

Qualifications/special skills

Skills: • Experience in preparing scientific analysis on issues related to wastewater and water quality
• Experience in the use of office software packages (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) and in monitoring, data and data management, and capacity development
• Strong understanding of technical issues in the area of wastewater management
Academic Qualifications: Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in Environmental Sciences, Environmental Management, Public health, or in a closely related field. A first degree with 2 years of qualifying experience will be accepted in lieu of an Advanced degree.
Experience: • A minimum of five (5) years’ experience in environmental sciences, water resources management, or water and development, of which at least five years of experience in similar projects in the area of monitoring of basic services such as water, sanitation and hygiene or a closely related field is required.
• Experience in the United Nations is regarded as an asset.
Language: English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in written and oral English is required. Working knowledge of other UN official languages is desirable