Senior Water Resources Management Specialist

Washington, DC, United States 🇺🇸

Background / General description:

Established in 1944, the World Bank Group (WBG) is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions. In the fiscal year of 2014, the WBG committed $65.6 billion in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to its members and private businesses, of which $22.2 billion was concessional finance to its poorest members. It is governed by 188 member countries and delivers services out of 120 offices with nearly 15,000 staff located globally.

The WBG consists of five specialized institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD); the International Development Association (IDA); the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). IBRD and IDA are commonly known as the World Bank, which is organized into six client-facing Regional Vice-Presidencies, several corporate functions, and – as of July 1, 2014 – has introduced fourteen Global Practices (GPs) as well as five Cross-Cutting Solution Areas (CCSAs) to bring best-in-class knowledge and solutions to regional and country clients.

The Water Global Practice

Water resources are under unprecedented and increasing pressures, driven by greater climate variability, population and economic growth, land use changes, and declining quantities and qualities of both ground and surface waters.  With cross cutting impacts on agriculture, education, energy, health, gender equity, and livelihood, water is an essential resource for all life on the planet and is at the center of economic and social development.  Successful water management requires accurate knowledge of the resource available and an assessment of competing demands for its usage. Making best use of available supplies requires complex and sensitive economic, environmental and socio-political trade-offs. Planning for a more uncertain and more constrained water environment in the future only makes the situation more complex.

The world will not be able to meet the great development challenges of the 21st century – human development, livable cities, climate change, food security, energy security, and universal access to services – unless we ensure a water-secure world for all. To achieve this goal the Global Practice will need to work on both water resource management and service delivery issues but in a context where we focus on water in the context of the broader economy.    

The WBG is in a unique position to help governments take such an integrated and strategic approach to solve water supply, sanitation, water resource, hydropower, and irrigation problems through partnership, finance and knowledge.  The Water GP places Water Resource Management (hydrology, economics, storage, groundwater use, rivers and deltas), Service Delivery (to households, businesses and farmers), and an understanding of water in the context of the broader economy at the center of its efforts to help countries address the challenge of managing water.  The Water GP seeks to ensure that water issues are effectively addressed in all related sub-sectors, such as agriculture (ensuring sustainable water availability for irrigation; managing the trade-offs around the agricultural use of water), disaster risk management (floods and droughts), energy (hydropower; energy cooling systems), management of rivers and deltas, and water supply & sanitation (rural and urban; utility performance; wastewater management; targeting the poor).  In each sub sector an integrated approach is adopted which considers investment and operations in the context of governance, institutions and policies.  Finally, we recognize that any focus on water will need to address and take into account the complex context of climate change.

The Water Global Practice is organized with: (a) region-facing Practice Managers (PMs) covering Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, East Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia; (b) a Practice Manager (PM) for Global Programs, Knowledge and Communications, and (c) five cross-cutting Global Solutions Groups (GSGs): (i) institutions and governance for service delivery of irrigation and urban  and rural water and sanitation, (ii) water resource management, including addressing large hydraulic infrastructure and  trans-boundary issues; (iii) analytical work on linkages of water to the economy and poverty outcomes; and (iv) operations analysis and support to feedback lessons from implementation into new program design.

The MNA Regional Water Security Initiative

MNA is the most water scarce region in the world. By any measure of water scarcity, the Middle East and North Africa region has the lowest level of renewable water resources available for human, industrial and agricultural use in the world. The region has annual average water resources of 658 m3 per capita per year, well below the commonly cited threshold for scarcity of 1,000 m3 and less than 10 percent of the world average of over 7,000 m3.  MNA has just half the freshwater resources per capita of the next scarcest region, South Asia.  Fifteen out of 20 countries in the region suffer from extreme water scarcity, as they have less than 500 m3/year of renewable water per capita per year.  

A number of trends threaten to exacerbate the region’s water scarcity challenges, including more variable precipitation, population growth and increased urbanization. MNA receives an average of 200 mm/year of precipitation.  Climate change projections suggest that the region will become even hotter and drier, pointing to a future where scarcity will be compounded.  Increasing rainfall variability could affect groundwater recharge, runoff and water quality. Demographic changes also compound these challenges, as the population in the region is expected to double by 2050 and water demand is expected to increase by 50% in the same time period. This increase in population and demand could cause the water demand-supply gap to expand five-fold.  

The World Bank has launched a Regional Water Security Initiative (RWSI) to promote an enabling environment for addressing water security issues in the Middle East and North Africa region through policy reforms and technological innovations. This will be achieved by generating knowledge and facilitating dialogue and action toward a new consciousness around water management. The RWSI will support the efforts of countries and regional organizations to address their common over-arching challenge of water scarcity by:

(a) Strengthening knowledge and multi-stakeholder dialogue on the opportunities and risks for water management in the region,

(b) Supporting the development and implementation of policies, technologies and investments for more strategic, cooperative, sustainable and productive water resources management at regional, national and sub-national levels, and

The Position

The Water Global Practice is now seeking a Senior Water Resources Management Specialist to be based in Washington, D.C. to work with the MNA water and country office teams in leading and supporting its programs at national and regional levels, in particular the MNA Regional Water Security Initiative.

Note: If the selected candidate is a current Bank Group staff member with a Regular or Open-Ended appointment, s/he will retain his/her Regular or Open-Ended appointment. All others will be offered a 3 year term appointment.

The selected candidate will be a staff member of the Bank’s Water Global Practice working directly under the supervision of the Water Global Practice Manager for the Middle East and North Africa with the following duties:

(i) Working closely with the Global Lead on Water Security and Integrated Water Resources Management, lead and contribute to activities of the Regional Water Security Initiative, including:

a. Design, preparation, implementation and reporting of activities under the RWSI

b. Development and application and/or coordination of country-level water security assessments in two or more MNA countries

c. Organization and delivery of regional dialogues, study tours and other learning events, in cooperation with key partners

d. Coordination of colleagues involved in related RWSI activities

e. Management of partnerships within the Bank, with clients and with other development partners active in the region

(ii) Serve as a core team member in the GP’s water resources management  program, leading or participating the Unit’s work in MNA and other regions including providing expert inputs for investment programs and operational tasks in WRM and for complex, multi-purpose projects at national and regional (river basin) levels.

(iii) Lead or participate in analytical work in the Water Global Practice, in particular the Water Security GSG, including collaboration with other GPs or CCSAs.

(iv) Lead and/or provide key technical input to knowledge management and dissemination of lessons learnt, including preparation of periodic reports and briefs.

(v) Coordinate the preparation of reports, briefs and talking points on project activities, and other related issues.

(vi) Contribute to knowledge management, including formal and informal communities of practice.

(vii) Mentor junior staff to build capacity in the Water Global Practice.

The appointee will support RWSI activities and related operations in water resources management across the MNA region, and may involve regular travel.

Selection Criteria:

Candidates must demonstrate good interpersonal skills and the ability to find practical solutions to problems and think strategically.  Candidates must demonstrate technical and professional excellence, with effective communication skills.  The following specific criteria will apply:

1.  A Master’s degree, PhD preferred, in a field relevant to water resources management including civil and environmental engineering, water management, natural resources management or other related fields.

2.  A minimum of ten years relevant professional experience in water resources management, political economy, transboundary waters, law or related fields.

3.  Substantial experience in water resources management and regional water resources challenges in the Middle East and North Africa.

4.  Proven record in coordinating and/or managing a large, complex, multi-disciplinary program on water or natural resources.  Program management experience in a donor organization is a plus.

5.  Experience in leading teams and demonstrated qualities of leadership. Experience with multi-sectoral teams particularly desirable.

6.  Experience working in multi-country programs and intercultural environments.

7.  Ability to build strong partnerships with clients and colleagues across departmental boundaries.  

8.  Excellent oral and written communications skills and fluency in English.

9. Ability to produce quality work under pressure.

10. Enthusiasm for, and commitment to development work. High degree of dedication and commitment to results.


• Integrative Skills – possesses in-depth understanding of Bank resources in all areas of work in the network, and proven fungibility.

• Knowledge and Experience – influences the design and execution of major policy and/or research initiatives; conceives and promotes innovations in development policies, project design, organization and management to improve operational and sector work.

• Policy Dialogue Skills – has a track record of conducting effective policy dialogue with country counterparts; communicates and defends difficult issues and positions to senior bank management and government officials.

• Client Orientation – translates insight into practice across disciplines, hierarchies, geographies and organizational units in service of clients.

• Drive for Results – ensures successful implementation and delivery of key programs and projects, ensuring that outputs positively impact results.

• Teamwork (Collaboration) and Inclusion – creates a team climate of practical and innovative action, facilitating collaboration between competing interests and stakeholders.

• Knowledge, Learning and Communication – demonstrates command of all forms of communication and presents in a clear, objective and engaging manner in high-level settings; ensures knowledge is captured and shared in a variety of ways.