Global Monitoring of WASH Affordability

New York, NY, United States 🇺🇸

Job Number: 507286 | Vacancy Link
Locations: Headquarters Locations: United States of America
Work Type : Consultancy

If you are a committed, creative professional and are passionate about making a lasting difference for children, the world’s leading children’s rights organization would like to hear from you.

For 70 years, UNICEF has been working on the ground in 190 countries and territories to promote children’s survival, protection and development. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


UNICEF and WHO established a Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) in 1990. The JMP produces national, regional and global estimates of progress in drinking water and sanitation and was responsible for monitoring progress towards MDG target 7c. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets call for universal access to safe drinking, water and sanitation and hygiene by 2030. In July 2017 the JMP published baseline estimates for the new SDG targets and indicators relating to household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. The use of water and sanitation ladders encouraged a focus on progressive realization of the human rights to water and sanitation and the targeting of populations with no service, in particular those practicing open defecation or using surface water for drinking-water.

Affordability is explicitly part of the water target 6.1, and it is also considered implicit in the sanitation and hygiene target 6.2. To date, efforts to monitor WASH affordability globally have been limited, and hampered by lack of data. While the main data sources for monitoring affordability – income and expenditure surveys, and utility billing records – do contain information on water tariffs and sometimes wastewater payments, other types of WASH spending are either hidden in other broader categories, or excluded. Furthermore, the level of WASH service – whether judged according to the ‘basic’ or ‘safely managed’ standard – varies from household to household, making it hard to know what you are actually measuring the affordability of. Hence the efforts to measure affordability so far, such as in the JMP 2017 report, present an incomplete picture.

Also, there is no international consensus around affordability benchmarks (e.g. WASH spending as a proportion of income) or other ways to measure affordability (e.g. whether high spending on WASH affects a household’s ability to access other essential goods and services). The latter issue highlights the need to take a multi-service perspective when measuring affordability, hence WASH cannot be considered in isolation. Other sectors such as food and health have defined their own frameworks over the affordability of for example, adequate nutritional intake or catastrophic health spending which propels a vulnerable households into poverty.

A point of contention remains over whether data on household WASH spending should be presented alongside WASH access figures, or if WASH access figures should be adjusted downwards for those who are judged to not ‘afford’ the service.

Therefore, clarity is needed on how affordability is to be better measured and monitored over time, so that necessary policy interventions can be made for those groups for whom accessing WASH services is a financial challenge. In the short-term, compromises may need to be made over the quality of data and limited spending categories to be able to present preliminary assessments of WASH affordability globally, but in the longer term questions in household surveys need to be added and adapted, special affordability surveys carried out, and improvements in other sources of WASH spending data such as utility billing records or market information.


The objective of this initiative is to develop and begin implementation of a vision for monitoring WASH affordability globally, based on the human rights to drinking water and sanitation. Given the range of stakeholders with a voice, the vision should be developed collaboratively through consensus-building. The solutions proposed should be actionable so that WASH affordability can be reported globally, with progressive improvements, from the JMP 2019 report. In addition to recommendations for global monitoring, recommendations will also be made for how countries can conduct more in-depth assessments of WASH affordability.


The initiative seeks to develop a practical methodology for global and national monitoring of WASH affordability, using country case studies to test and fine-tune the methodology. Given the range of data sources/quality and affordability challenges across different countries, a menu of options need to be made available. The following six activities are proposed. 

  1. An internal concept note will be developed prior to the consultant’s start, which includes
  • Review previous approaches to monitoring affordability in WASH and other sectors, and meeting reports (e.g. Special Rapporteurs special meeting on affordability, JMP taskforce on inequalities)
  • Identify the areas of agreement and contention, and the data opportunities and challenges
  • Develop a concept note (max. 10 pages), for circulation to working group
  1. Members of a working group of international experts and representative institutions will already have been invited prior to the consultant’s start date. There is likely to be some follow up and communications to on-board the members who have accepted the invitation. The members are not limited to:
  • Statistical commission – proactive and interested developing countries, especially in the interests of identifying countries for case studies
  • World Bank and other development banks (AfDB, AsDB, IABD), including IBNET[1] representative
  • Academic community, including Oxford’s REACH consortium
  • Other member states, both programme (who might provide case studies) and non-programme (who can share experiences)
  • Regulators
  • UNICEF and WHO, as co-leaders of JMP, and WHO as leader of TrackFin
  1. Methodology ‘issues’ paper. The consultant will:
  • Develop and circulate a paper that outlines the key issues in measuring and monitoring WASH affordability, based on the concept note
  • Incorporate affordability frameworks and monitoring systems from other sectors, what other special rapporteurs have done on the subject, and what WASH can learn and how we might wish to work with them
  • Gather comments from working group and finalization of planned approach for case studies
  1. Case studies paper. The consultant will:
  • Identify programme and non-programme countries who volunteer to offer to apply at least one of the methodologies for monitoring WASH affordability using existing data sets – reflecting mainly countries represented in the Statistical Commission, TrackFin[2] countries (of which there are 15 who have completed or in pipeline) and other countries with interesting case studies or who have already expressed interest to collaborate
  • Conduct the case studies based on the recommendations from the methodology paper (in 3.), led by countries with the support of the JMP consultant
  • Write a paper summarising the results of the case studies, and conclude how the case studies have settled (or not) the methodological and other questions
  • Write a brief paper proposing how to monitor WASH affordability
  1. Meeting of WG. The consultant will:
  • Convene the working group members alongside another meeting, to enable the maximum attendance possible
  • Collect and review the case studies before presentation, and help lead a discussion on the issues to resolve
  • Write a report of the meeting
  1. JMP paper. The consultant will:
  • Help draft a paper, based on the previous materials in 1 to 5 above, detailing how JMP will monitor WASH affordability globally, making progressive improvements over time. 

Duty Station

The consultancy is home based, except for the duty travel (up to 80 days). 


The consultancy will be carried out in 80 working days conducted over the period November 2017 – August 2018. 

Start date: 1 November 2017                

End date: 30 August 2018 


The consultant will report to the Senior Adviser (WASH) in WASH Section, New York. The consultant will communicate regularly with other JMP team members in UNICEF and WHO. 

Key qualifications, technical background, and experience required: 

  • Advanced degree (Masters or PhD) in science or social science. Preferably a PhD in Economics (or of high relevance to this assignment)
  • An economist with solid quantitative skills
  • A minimum of ten years professional experience in development field, of which 5+ years WASH sector experience, 10+ years economic analysis, 5+ years’ experience working with developing countries
  • Facilitation and consultation skills – prior experience successfully leading multi-country initiatives, convening stakeholders, organizing workshops and making high-level presentations
  • Excellent communication, presentation and writing skills.
  • Highly proficient in use of English with the ability to write in a clear and practical manner.
  • Familiarity with UNICEF mission, mandate and WASH programme is desirable.
  • As well as being fluent in English, good working knowledge of French or Spanish is desirable.

[1] World Bank, Water Practice

[2] UN-Water, implemented by World Health Organization

To view our competency framework, please click here

Please indicate your ability, availability and daily/monthly rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above (including travel and daily subsistence allowance, if applicable).  Applications submitted without a daily/monthly rate will not be considered.


With the exception of the US Citizens, G4 Visa and Green Card holders, should the selected candidate and his/her household members reside in the United States under a different visa, the consultant and his/her household members are required to change their visa status to G4, and the consultant’s household members (spouse) will require an Employment Authorization Card (EAD) to be able to work, even if he/she was authorized to work under the visa held prior to switching to G4.   

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organisation.

Opening Date Wed Sep 20 2017 15:00:00 GMT+0200 (CEST) Eastern Daylight Time
Closing Date Thu Oct 05 2017 05:55:00 GMT+0200 (CEST)