Eswatini nationals: Irrigation Specialist for Irrigation Systems Design

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
10+ Years
Degree Required: 
Advanced Degree (Master's or JD)
Languages Required: 


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Organizational Settings

The Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Eswatini have partnered since the country joined the Organization in 1971. FAO assistance has covered the formulation and implementation of food security and nutrition policies, including risk reduction and management strategies, and activities to increase agricultural productivity. More recently, cooperation has included a focus on market access and agricultural competiveness, with support to smallholders’ transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture. Emphasis is also given to the sustainable management of natural resources.

FAO Eswatini is implementing a number of Technical Cooperation Programmes (TCP) projects and Emergency programmes. The TCP provides assistance in all areas pertaining to FAO’s mandate and competence that are covered by the Strategic Framework to respond to governments’ priority needs. These short-term, catalytic and sustainable projects are driven by the demands and priorities of member countries, addressing critical gaps in hunger and malnutrition eradication, sustainable production, rural poverty reduction more efficient and inclusive food chains and building resilience to crisis. TCP projects catalyze change, foster capacity development and assist countries in mobilizing resources, in line with the Country Programming Frameworks agreed to with governments. Currently FAO Eswatini is supporting a number of TCPs with the Ministry of Agriculture and jointly collaborating with other Ministries as related to projects.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy of the Kingdom of Eswatini, and a major source of employment for more than 70 percent of the population. Eswatini’s young population and agro-based economy place the development of the country’s agro-food systems at heart of any strategy aiming to deliver employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in both rural and urban areas. However, the sector has been impacted by the incidence of weather-induced crop failures, pests and diseases and limited access by especially smallholder farmers to financing instruments and technology. Agricultural activity has been declining in Eswatini over the last two decades. The Comprehensive Agriculture Sector Policy’s (CASP) which overall aim is to promote sustainable agricultural development, economic growth, poverty alleviation, food security and sustainable natural resource management. Through FAO support, Eswatini has now begun a process of reviewing its Agricultural Investment plan (E-NAIP Process) as an initiative to support Government to achieve the goals of the CASP and its strategic plan. It is envisaged that the E-NAIP will feed from the Agrinvest process and its associated network of institutions aimed at achieving the vision for the agricultural and natural resources sector and food security in the country within the auspices of the New Partnership for Africa (NEPAD) Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).  Moreover, with the current situation regarding COVID-19, it is expected that the projects will also contribute towards addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the relevant thematic areas.

Agriculture is defined as the mainstay of the Eswatini economy although its contribution to GDP has declined over the years. Agriculture and forestry accounted for 8.6% of Eswatini GDP in 2017 (MEPD 2018). According to the Central Bank of Swaziland Report, 2016 the agricultural sector recorded a negative growth of -11.2%. This negative growth was as a result of reduced output due to severe drought where overall production output declined by 30 to 40%.

In Eswatini, Water Resources and Irrigation Development is vital for agriculture production, especially in the face climate variability, where the dependency on rainfall is no longer sustainable for ensuring household and national food security. The Government intends to increase investment in Water Resources Development for agricultural use. In response to the frequency and intensity of recurring drought conditions and the economic losses incurred by the agriculture sector (due to the effects of Climate Change) and by extension the country’s economy, the ministry is continuing the water harvesting and irrigation initiatives. In order to improve water use effectiveness and efficiency in agriculture production there is need to undertake a national water resources assessment and identification of associated irrigable areas to develop an agriculture water resources and irrigation master plan, and further develop, according to the findings and priorities of the subsequent plan to support irrigation expansion and investment in irrigation in the country.

FAO through its South Cooperation programme has initiated a programme of exchange and transfer of knowledge between Kingdom of Eswatini and Kingdom of Morocco. This has included an exchange programme and deployment of experts to assist in the development of Eswatini’s irrigation and horticultural sector. This exercise resulted in the development of a draft irrigation master plan and investment framework. This draft plan now needs to be reviewed, upgraded and finalised to include more details/elements in the masterplan.  

Reporting lines

The Irrigation Specialist will perform this assignment under the overall supervision of the FAO Representative to Eswatini / SFS Sub Regional Coordinator, and the direct supervision of the Assistant FAO Representative/Programmes, with technical support from the Agrofood Systems and Investment Policy Specialist. 

The post is located in the FAO Eswatini office.

Technical Focus

The Eswatini FAO Country office intends to engage an Irrigation Specialist to assist with the activities namely

  • draft plan now needs to be reviewed, upgraded and finalised
  • include more details/elements in the masterplan.
  • Upgraded Irrigation Master Plan (document)

Tasks and Responsibilities

  • Carry out literature review including the current version of the irrigation masterplan to familiarise with Government of Eswatini’s irrigation planning processes as well as  global and/or regional best practices in irrigation master planning;
  • Design consultation instruments and checklists and consult with various sector players and stakeholders including  National and Regional Government officials responsible for irrigation development, state agencies and the private sector;
  • Asses and verify potential areas for irrigation development opportunities in order to enable increased understanding for priorities of such development;
  • Map out all potential areas for irrigation and establish the linkages that could enhance the profitability of the proposed irrigation interventions;
  • With technical guidance of FAO, upgrade the current version of the irrigation masterplan to present the irrigation projects per Region(or lower), their water source, size, type of irrigation technology per site, development costs and location;
  • Present the short term (year 0-2), medium term(year 3-10) and long term (year 11- 25) irrigation development trajectory in terms of Government priorities regarding rehabilitation of irrigation schemes in all agricultural sectors and completion of ongoing development projects, expansion of existing schemes and development of new schemes to fully utilise water stored in all existing dams, and, development of large irrigation schemes using dams currently under construction and proposed dams
  • Interact with relevant FAO technical units, and relevant Government of Eswatini institutions to verify the data and information captured in the Irrigation masterplan;
  • Present the Government, FAO and other relevant stakeholders for  further  inputs and comments(in a half day meeting)


Minimum Requirements

  • Advanced University degree in Agriculture, Water Management, Agricultural Extension Services, Economics, Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness or closely related fields.
  • Ten (10) or more years of concrete experience in Agricultural, irrigation and  water sector in Eswatini’s or Southern African and Global context
  • Experience and strong knowledge of national context with reference to food, agriculture and water sector and agriculture extension.
  • Working knowledge of English.
  • National of Eswatini.

FAO Core Competencies

  • Results Focus
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Building Effective Relationships
  • Knowledge Sharing and Continuous Improvement

Technical/Functional Skills 

  • Extent and relevance of experience in project operations with reference to food, agriculture and water sector and agriculture extension.
  • experience in the Monitoring and Evaluation 
  • A proven understanding of NGOs or International Organizations, Donors or Multi-partner systems or programmes is considered a strong asset
  • Ability to work with staff/team under pressure.
  • Ability to coordinate and work with partners;
  • Ability to interpret and apply administrative rules;
  • Ability to work in a multicultural environment;
  • Demonstrated use of initiative and ability to make appropriate linkages in work requirements and anticipate next steps;
  • Ability to plan, organize, implement and report on work;
  • Demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping clients and colleagues informed

Selection criteria 

  • Work experience in more than one location or area of work.
  • Extent and relevance of experience in Agriculture and project / programme administrative support.
  • Experience in the field of project cycle management in Eswatini in particular.
  • Experience working with government ministries and/or agricultural sector stakeholders’ issues..
  • Capacity to work effectively as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Demonstrated ability to synthesize complex information and present ideas and recommendations in a clear and understandable manner.
  • Ability to work independently, strong analytical skills and problem-solving
  • Computer literacy with Word, PowerPoint and basic spreadsheets (Excel).
  • Excellent communication (both written and oral) and presentation skills in English and Siswati