Consultancy: Vector Control Early Warning System Development Coordinator (WASH)

New York, NY, United States 🇺🇸

Job Number: 507631 | 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.

Background & Rationale

Rapid, unmanaged urbanization in tropical and sub-tropical cities renders large populations at risk of the emergence and expansion of diseases spread by mosquitoes (Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, and Yellow Fever). It is reasonable to expect new vector-borne diseases to emerge and further intensification of those that are closely associated with urbanization, particularly viral diseases transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.  As a result of this unpredictability, there is a critical need to link mosquito early warning systems and monitoring indicators with disease prevalence and targeting control to prevent pathogen transmission by vectors.

Timely response to outbreaks is often delayed since notification of requisite indicators, such as case and mosquito population increases, is often delayed.  The new Global Vector Control Response Plan launched by WHO in 2017 highlights that entomological surveillance is often totally lacking, further undercutting programming and implementation of life and cost saving interventions.  Evidence-based decision-making requires epidemiological, entomological, and intervention data. These cross-sectoral data should be linked in order to stratify transmission risk for planning preventive control measures, guiding routine vector and epidemiological surveillance, and facilitating assessments of the impact of interventions. Such linkages can be supported through the use of a single Early Warning and Response System (EWARS) that has a flexible data storage system to collate, validate, analyze and present in a user friendly format aggregate statistical data required for vector control planning and implementation.

There are currently a number of promising approaches to creating forecasting models and transmission risk maps (Fig. 1).  They variously rely upon capture of environmental factors that affect mosquito development (temperature, rainfall, and humidity), measures of population movements that might spread infections, internet queries that indicate heightened interest in disease symptoms as precursor to health center visits, and suspected or confirmed cases of specific diseases.  HEPI would greatly benefit from the availability of a reliable system that pinpoints where resources should be deployed in anticipation of an outbreak or epidemic of vector-borne diseases.

The UNICEF Office of Innovation is actively engaged in evaluating whether their dataset platform has utility for the development of a vector control early warning and response system (EWARS), noting that there is little coordination and a lack of consolidation of global modeling resources and efforts to systematically and strategically prevent duplication or overlap of platforms.  While canvassing for additional inputs and possible models it was noted that WHO/TDR released their EWARS at the end of 2016.  TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, is a global program of scientific collaboration that helps facilitate, support and influence efforts to combat diseases of poverty. It is hosted at the World Health Organization (WHO), and is sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and WHO.  The forecasting model is thought to be a useful capstone.  Currently the collection, validation, and entry of data required to drive the model is somewhat cumbersome, highly technical, and may prevent widespread use of the EWARS.  This can be improved by input from UNICEF platform of datasets providing critical information. 

Fig.1. Mapping spread of vector-transmitted disease 


Develop an innovative global vector control model that 1) forecasts timing of outbreaks, 2) predicts scale of outbreak, and 3) maps areas where spread of transmission is most likely to put more children at risk.

This innovation will integrate the UNICEF cutting edge dataset platform with others that have the benefit of increasing accuracy, user-friendliness and efficiency, with the WHO/TDR EWARS forecasting capability.  The system will be expanded to include risk mapping, building on learnings from the Ebola project of the Office of Innovation. Given evolving data science techniques and other advances (crowdsourcing, citizen science, social media, google queries), UNICEF hosts the ability and technical expertise in-house to combine multiple datasets to create a ‘force multiplier’ of reliable and more geographically granular models to prevent Aedes buildup, alert relevant authorities when there is a probable outbreak coming, and inform response activities to better understand and prevent transmission of diseases.

The coordinator will engage external partners, manage expectations of country offices and the community of public health end users, and oversee the construction of this innovative approach to early warning.  Additionally, the coordinator will handle day-to-day project management activities including establishing and monitoring of timelines, milestones, communications, reporting, and meetings.  The project will be guided by a joint team of WHO/TDR experts and UNICEF Programme Division and Innovation team members.  This core team will collaborate with external partners providing their innovations to the project.  Oversight will be provided by a committee formed with members from sectors such as Health, including HEPI, WASH, RCCE, Education, Regional Office, Country Office, and Child Protection. 

UNICEF, as one of the major global response agencies to outbreaks of epidemiological and vector-borne disease, is positioned to coordinate and inform actors in the field to coalesce around a global strategy to provide EWARS that will improve society’s ability to limit or prevent the transmission of these global diseases.  Through the use of improved warning signals on climate, Aedes aegypti threats, and human mobility, the proposed initiative will utilize the existing platform from UNICEF HQ Innovation Unit to create an improved global ability to alert possible areas of concern and prevent the start or spread of epidemics caused by vector transmitted diseases such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, and others.

Contact is already established with WHO/TDR.  There does not seem to be any serious barriers, licenses, or other work product that cannot be made available to this grand scheme to integrate the different components.

Consultant travel (3 trips) will include visits to WHO/TDR for update meetings and organizational workshops to finalize the cross-sectoral system.  Once the system is operational then consultant will travel to two selected countries to supervise activities for pilot validation studies. 

Expected results: (measurable results)

  1. Completes programming integration necessary for basic operation of the WHO/TDR EWARS within UNICEF by securing historical case and other datasets that inform and/or refine the model utilizing the Office of Innovation platform by 20 April 2018.
  2. Validates EWARS with two COs that confirm the functionality of the sentinel alert, forecasting, and mapping system with WHO concurrence by 17 August 2018 and release of first edition by 28 September 2018 

Duty Station



Start date:  15 January 2018                                          

End date:    15 November 2018      

Key competences, technical background, and experience required Deadline

– Academic qualification

  • M.S. university degree or equivalent experience in library or geographic sciences, including information technology and statistics
  • A B.S University degree would be acceptable with at least 4 years of additional experience

– Specialized training needed

  • Project management skills, coordination with external partners
  • Ability to develop systems and tools for Information Managers to present information in multiple formats
  • Advanced knowledge on mapping tools and map making process
  • Strong knowledge of GIS/cartographic outputs

– Number of years of work experience required in the relevant area 

  • 5-8 years of experience that includes country operations
  • A minimum of 2-5 years of experience with either the UN and/or NGO

– Languages needed

  • Fluency in English (verbal and written). Good written and spoken skills in the language of the humanitarian operation and knowledge of another UN language an asset. Any other specified skill needed and related to consultancy.

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 Tue Oct 03 2017 15:00:00 GMT+0200 (CEST) Eastern Daylight Time
Closing Date Wed Oct 18 2017 05:55:00 GMT+0200 (CEST)