WASH Program Officer

San Luis Obispo, CA, US

The Opportunity

At Lifewater, we believe that work should be more than a job; it should be an opportunity for you to make a difference in the world. We are social scientists, engineers, program managers, advocates, and community workers who care deeply about preventing the needless and tragic death of 1,600 children who die each and every day from preventable water-borne diseases. If you are looking to join a lean but rapidly growing global team comprised of like-minded, professional, passionate people motivated by faith in Jesus Christ then this might be just the job you have been praying for, and yes – you’ll even get paid for your work.

Who We Are

Lifewater International (“Lifewater”) is a non-profit Christian community development organization dedicated to effectively serving vulnerable children and families by partnering with underserved communities to overcome water poverty. With experience in more than 40 countries since 1977, Lifewater serves all people by providing them with contextually appropriate water access, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions. We walk alongside families, leaders, schools, and churches to overcome all forms of water poverty by helping them learn to live in healthy relationship with God and the environment and to recognize how small changes can transform their life and community.

We are a non-governmental, faith-based organization serving communities in the rural regions of East Africa and Southeast Asia. We have active programs in Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Uganda; countries with a desperate lack of resources to provide basic water and sanitation services to rural children and families. Since our inception, Lifewater’s worldwide team has impacted the lives of more than 2.5 million people. And we’re just getting started!

Lifewater has an annual budget of $4.5M USD with strategic plans to double in the next five years. Our global headquarters is located in San Luis Obispo, California with domestic staff fewer than 20 people that serve our field offices around the world. We have regional offices in Addis Ababa, Kampala, and Phnom Penh and program offices in the actual regions of service. All in-country operations are staffed by qualified national personnel, currently numbering 80 people.

Who You Are

You are hungry to see lives and communities transformed and have community development experience, preferably in the WASH sector. You are an effective program manager who thinks critically, is detail-oriented, and is competent at juggling many tasks at once. You are a skilled cross-cultural communicator and participatory trainer who understands the value in building the capacity of local staff. You have excellent inter-personal skills and emotional intelligence allowing you to work effectively with western volunteers just as easily as you walk the muddy rural backroads of the Ethiopian Highlands. You’ve preferably had experience working or traveling abroad that has helped you understand the realistic challenges that field teams face, and you will do whatever it takes to help our programs succeed. You can analyze program data, monitor program activities, and make informed recommendations to the leadership team to continually improve our programs. You preferably have a master’s degree in a related field, are excited about living in San Luis Obispo, California, with a willingness to travel extensively to support program needs to our field locations in Southeast Asia and East Africa, or other regions as we expand.

What You Are Responsible For

Reporting to the Director of Program Quality, the WASH Program Officer will serve as an invaluable member of the Global Programs Team. You will be responsible for supporting a portfolio of field teams, and will contribute to the overall success and improvement of Lifewater programs around the globe. You will communicate daily with our teams, ensuring they have everything they need to implement high quality programs that best serve vulnerable children and families. You will monitor program progress, evaluate program data, provide trainings and support, and make recommendations for improvements to program strategy and implementation.

Your three primary areas of responsibility are:

Program Management Support

  • Provide ongoing support to field teams as programs progress through the various stages of intervention, ensuring programs are implemented in line with approved work plans and budgets.
  • Support the development and modifications of program work plans and budgets, as necessary.
  • Determine gaps in program plans and make recommendations to address them.
  • Help teams troubleshoot challenges that arise, working together to develop creative solutions.

Monitoring & Evaluation

  • Conduct regular on-site monitoring of Lifewater programs, shadowing/interviewing program staff and participants to determine effectiveness of interventions.
  • Use program data to track progress toward and evaluate achievement of program activities, objectives, and goals and support field teams in continuous improvement.
  • Contribute to the preparation of proposals and reports for internal and external stakeholders, including institutional funders.
  • Recommend program and training modifications based on data.

Training & Capacity Building

  • Facilitate in-country training for field staff and relevant community leaders, including but not limited to Healthy Communities, Healthy Homes, Healthy Schools, and refresher trainings for field staff before and during program intervention.
  • Continuously improve curriculum and operations manuals based on lessons learned from program implementation and analysis of program data.
  • Contribute to the overall development of Lifewater programming by remaining relevant in the WASH sector, and by representing Lifewater in various forums.


Work Experience & Qualifications

Education and work experience required:

  • Bachelor’s degree with 5 to 7 years of community development or program evaluation experience in a related sector. Masters with fewer years of experience is preferred (see below).

Required competencies and skills:

  • Active Christian Faith as evidenced by adherence to Lifewater’s statement of faith and demonstrated involvement in a local church
  • Strong critical thinking and decision making skills
  • Analytical skills and ability to interpret data
  • Cross-cultural relationship building and training/facilitation skills
  • Excellent people skills and emotional intelligence in working with teams
  • Excellent command of oral and written English for business
  • Travel experience and/or living abroad for extended timelines (few weeks at a time)
  • US Citizen or have a green card

 Desired competencies and experience:

  • Master’s degree in related field of study (Public Health, International Development, International Relations, Economics, Environmental Engineering etc.) with at least 3 years’ of experience in WASH program activity in a developing world context.
  • Ability to use Microsoft Office Suite including advanced skills & experience in:
    • Working with workflow spreadsheets in Excel and data analysis in Excel or SPSS
    • Design & Preparation of presentations and posters in PowerPoint
  • Program work-plan design, monitoring, and evaluation                   
  • Working knowledge of ArcGIS and/or other GIS systems
  • A command of Akvo FLOW and/or other field-database tools