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Position: National Irrigation Specialist
Job Time: Full-Time
Job Type: Contract
Place of Work: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Posted date: 2 months ago
Application Deadline: Submition date is over

Organizational Setting

The main aim of the FAOET country offices, which are headed by an FAO Representative is to assist the government to develop policies, programs and projects to achieve food security and reduce hunger and malnutrition, to help develop the agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors, and to use their environmental and natural resources in a sustainable manner.

The mission of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is to work to eradicate hunger and promote global food security together with balanced and complete nutrition. Our mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.

Our three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Ethiopia’s economy, accounting for around 85% of the labor force and it is predominantly rain-fed agriculture, which is seriously impacted by climate change. Cognizant to the vulnerability of rainfed agriculture, the government of Ethiopia with support from development partners is investing in irrigation development to meet the rising food demand for the ever-growing population, to ensure self-reliance in food security and increase the supply of raw materials for the expanding agro-processing industries. While Ethiopia has an irrigation potential of around 11.1 million hectares of land, only 15-20 percent has been developed. However, most irrigation systems have been underperforming in economic and environmental terms due to many factors including poor resource assessment, studies, designs, construction and management and service provision thus creating a concern about their sustainability. One of the major contributors to the poor-quality irrigation systems and their operation and management is the lack of irrigation standards and associated regulations.

Ethiopia has developed several guidelines and manuals for irrigation development and management and is being used. Among the guidelines, there are no standards against which quality of study, design, construction and management standards are compared and adhered to. This is why expensive infrastructures are developed and existing irrigation systems are underperforming far below expectations in terms of economic return and environmental sustainability. 

Moreover, in Irrigation and Drainage Policy and Strategy within the Frameworks of the Ethiopia Water Policy and Strategy, and the Agricultural Water Management Policy and Strategy within the Framework of the revised Agricultural and Rural Development Policy and Strategy importance of developing irrigation standards unequivocally stated. Adopting Standards for irrigation development is a way for actors in the irrigation industry to demonstrate their responsible attitude toward land and water resources and to show that their practice matches or exceeds accepted community values.

Therefore, TCP/ETH/3901-titled “Support for Developing Irrigation Standards and Regulations for Ethiopia” project is designed to provide Ethiopia with irrigation standards to enable it to develop quality irrigation systems and efficiently manage them and ensure sustainable irrigated agricultural systems. The project is expected to provide the following three deliverables: development of irrigation standards for guiding quality irrigation system development; drafting regulations for encoring the implementation of irrigation standards; and enhanced capacity of government and other actors in applying the standards.  

Reporting Lines

Under the overall supervision of the FAO Representative in Ethiopia (FAOR), the functional supervision of the Deputy FAO Representative (International Programme Officer) and the Assistant FAO Representative for Programme Implementation; and direct supervision of the Agriculture Team Leader, in consultation with the Multidisciplinary Team in the Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (MDT SFE) and working in close collaboration with the Government sector institutions the incumbent will perform his/her responsibilities

Technical Focus 

The Irrigation Specialist will coordinate the implementation of TCP/ETH/3901 project- “support for developing irrigation standards and regulations for Ethiopia”. The incumbent support drafting policy and strategy documents related to agricultural irrigation and water management in the country, coordinate inputs and take lead for the drafting and updating of all FAO Ethiopia reports and any other country synthesis documents prepared for specific donors, related to irrigation and water management. Assist in formulating and drafting projects and concept notes in relation to irrigation and water management initiated by FAOET. Support the implementation of FAO programs and projects aimed at enhancing natural resources management and agricultural production system to protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of the ecosystem (Better Environment). The incumbent will provide technical support in preventing disaster-related emergencies, building resilience, mitigating the impacts of disasters, and helping rebuild food production and livelihood systems. The incumbent will perform the following key responsibilities:

Tasks and responsibilities

The incumbent will perform the following key responsibilities:

  • Contribute to drafting policy and strategy documents relating to agricultural water management in the country; 
  • Assess the present production systems in the country with particular attention to the water use per unit of product, irrigation systems applied, and overall water use efficiency;
  • Assess the availability of material and/or equipment in the country which is needed to reduce water use and/or to increase water use efficiency and the preparedness of farmers to adopt improved technologies to increase water use efficiency;
  • Coordinate and manage the implementation of TCP/ETH/3901 project on developing irrigation standards and regulations for Ethiopia; 
  • Advise and assist FAO to develop guidelines, manuals and policy advice on the irrigation infrastructure development that ensures sustainable and climate change resilient water resources management, introduction and promotion of new technologies on water harvesting and groundwater recharge; 
  • Identify good practices and the latest development of crop production systems using minimal quantities of water and assist Governmental Organizations (GOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other partners in setting up demonstration pilots to introduce and promote these minimal water-using production systems; 
  • Coordinate inputs and take the lead for the drafting and updating of all major reports and any other country/synthesis documentation prepared for specific donors, related to agricultural water management;
  • Participate in the preparation and review of FAO Ethiopia field programme/project and thematic work plans to ensure technical consistency; 
  • Assist in formulating and drafting agricultural water management project documents and concept notes initiated at FAO Ethiopia; 
  • Contribute to the collection and regular updating of key information and data on water use and irrigation in agriculture and technically support the federal and regional governments, especially in the fields of policy, applied research, technical seminars and training and promotion of integrated land and water development programmes; 
  • Support the implementation of the work programme under RI2/SO2, providing technical support to the federal and regional governments that will assist their capacity for development, management and conservation of water resources; water/irrigation development, irrigation technologies and on-farm water management systems;
  • Liaise with other UN and Development Partners in Ethiopia to ensure timely and relevant participation of FAO Ethiopia in the UN and other coordination processes and mechanisms put in place to address water resources development, management, irrigation, drainage and related subject matters; 
  • Perform other related duties as required. 


Minimum Requirements

  • The candidate should be a national of Ethiopia. 
  • Advanced university degree in irrigation engineering or a related field. 
  • At least 8 years of experience in irrigation and water management of which at least 3 years experience as a senior expert or water resources management level; 
  • Working knowledge (level C) of spoken and written English. Knowledge of Ethiopian languages is a strong asset 

FAO Core Competencies

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

Technical/Functional Skills 

  • Relevant experience in providing support to irrigation projects in Ethiopia 
  • Good understanding of nation irrigation and drainage management challenges and opportunities; 
  • Significant experience in irrigation projects design and implementation 
  • Knowledge of issues related to irrigation water use, water use efficiency and management, water application methods and technologies 
  • Organization and planning skills; 
  • Training delivery and presentation skills; 
  • Technical report writing skills. 

Selection Criteria 

  • Demonstrated experience in preparation and implementing successful irrigation and watershed management projects;
  • Demonstrated experience in training and capacity building in watershed management and irrigation; 
  • Experience in results-based management of teams involved in implementing multi-disciplinary projects and programs, preparation and implementation of work plans and reports; 
  • Extensive work experience with central governments and/or donors; 
  • Knowledge of water quality issues and community-based water use cooperation; 
  • Understanding FAO policies and programmes are considered a strong asset; 
  • Fluent in English written and spoken, and knowledge of Amharic and other Ethiopian languages;


  • FAO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing)
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you need help please contact:
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be accepted
  • Please note that FAO only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU) / United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed at  
  • For additional employment opportunities visit the FAO employment website: 
  • The appointment will be subject to certification that the candidate is medically fit for appointment, accreditation, any residency or visa requirements, and security clearances. 

FAO seeks gender, geographical and linguistic diversity in its staff and international consultants in order to best serve FAO Members in all regions.