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Technical Specialist - Geo-hazard Assessment

Kathmandu | Nepal (Nepal)

Background Information - Job-specific

UNOPS is expanding its operational support in South Asia and has recently established its presence in Nepal with four recent projects signed with DFID, World Vision and the World Bank supporting Nepal Government Institutions. UNOPS will provide advisory and technical assistance services with its expertise in Procurement, Project Management and Infrastructure, as well as providing capacity building to key stakeholders. The initial projects are located across the country in more than 40 districts of Nepal, while the major project team will work from UNOPS Kathmandu-based country office.

For one of the high-impact projects, UNOPS is working together with the World Bank, DFID and the Government of Nepal to support the Nepal Housing Reconstruction. The project will assess up to 900,000+ rural residential families and is part of a large-scale international response to the post-earthquake recovery. The overall objective of the project is to facilitate the recovery in the Earthquake affected Districts of Nepal through surveys that will ascertain the damage to the housing stock and identify households eligible for grant assistance. Just recently, the enrollment of Housing beneficiaries has started funded by DFID.

Following the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal the focus of national authorities and the international community was to address critical humanitarian needs in the short term.  Now, more than one year on, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has been established and a Post Disaster Recovery Framework (PDRF) has been published by the NRA which sets out the scope and scale of recovery across multiple sectors.

The NRA has been working closely with donors such as the Department for International Development (DFID) to ensure the reconstruction efforts are ‘building back better’. A crucial consideration in order to build back better is to ensure that communities in earthquake-affected districts live in areas that are sufficiently safe from geo-hazards including landslides.

The April 2015 earthquake caused the displacement of tens of thousands of peoples into temporary shelters and camps. Since that time, some communities have returned to their homes, whilst others are still living in temporary shelters and camps, afraid or unable to return to their homes. There are significant concerns that people are currently living in, or intend to return to rebuild in, areas that are highly unsafe in terms of landslide risk that could be exacerbated by an earthquake.

A rapid geological assessment of landslides and fissures on the ground was conducted immediately after the earthquake under the leadership of the Department of Mines and Geology (DMG). However it is now necessary to conduct a more detailed geo-hazard assessment of areas to determine whether these areas are safe enough from risk of earthquake or landslides for communities to live and rebuild. This is particularly necessary now as the disbursement of housing grants to affected individuals and families to rebuild their homes commences.

The NRA will lead the geo-hazard risk assessment, which will initially be conducted in eleven earthquake-affected areas. The districts for assessment are: Gorkha, Rasuwa, Dhading, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk, Dholakha, Okhaldhunga, Ramechhap, Kavrepalanchowk, Makwanpur and Solukhumbu.

DFID has been requested by NRA for support to complete the assessments. A methodology for conducting the geo-hazard assessments has been agreed by the NRA and Ministry of Geology and Mines.

Geo-hazard assessments need to be completed by qualified geologists who have specific training and experience in assessing areas for earthquake and landslide risk. There are only an estimated ten geologists currently in Nepal who are trained to undertake geo-hazard surveys, which is insufficient to undertake the assessments effectively and within the time frames.

Accordingly, identification of additional qualified geologists, engineers and water soil conservation specialists is required.  It is assumed these relatively inexperienced graduates will need extensive orientation and training.    As a guide, under previous geo-hazard surveys, it has taken three weeks to assess sites, or 2.5 sites a week.

Functional Responsibilities

The Technical Specialist reports directly to the Project Manager and coordinates all operational aspects of the project: progress and implementation, identifies operational problems and assists in resolving them by taking appropriate action, drafting required correspondence to parties concerned and preparing reports.  S/he shall perform the following specific duties: 
  • Define the parameters of the study. This will involve identifying:
    • Areas where people still reside which are in or near landslide risk zones;
    • Areas where people temporarily remain or been displaced due to significant earthquake damage and landslides;
    • Areas to where Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have been evacuated from.
  • Collate existing geo-hazard surveys and relevant reports/documentation that has already been gathered by different stakeholders
  • Develop a knowledge management hub that can absorb and organise the different resources of geo-hazard information, and serve as a central point for accessing geo-hazard information.
  • Review and trial the methodology agreed by the NRA and Ministry of Geology and Mines for completing the geo-hazard assessments
  • Determine the extent to which the methodology is fit-for-purpose to complete the geo-hazard assessment and identify necessary aspects for amendment or improvement
  • Report back to the NRA and indirectly the Ministry of Geology and Mines, Ministry of Urban Development (MOUD) on the results from the methodology trial, with recommendations for any changes to the methodology
  • Agree and finalise with the NRA and MOUD a methodology that is fit for purpose for next stage on decision making
  • Define and finalise recruitment requirements for additional geologists, including Terms of Reference and training requirements, in collaboration with the NRA and MOUD
  • Liaise with relevant organisations to determine availability of geologists, for example, ICIMOD
  • Assess quality and appropriateness of training courses provided to geologists to meet the needs of the assessment
  • Develop the project plan and timelines for completing surveys in identified areas in collaboration with government bodies
  • Deploy geo-hazard survey teams to identified locations, ensuring adequate support for survey teams is in place
  • Make regular visits to identified areas to review progress and quality of assessments
  • Closely liaise coordinate with government counterparts to review and manage survey teams to ensure adherence to timelines.

3. Monitoring and Progress Control

The Technical Specialist will report to the Project manager

  • Weekly/Bi-weekly reports as necessary if required by DfID
  • Monthly progress reports setting out activities that have been completed in the previous month and an outline of the work programme for the coming month
  • Final report detailing areas detailed results of geo-hazard assessment.

Education/Experience/Language requirements


  • Master’s Degree or equivalent in the fields of Engineering Geology and Geotechnics or other relevant discipline.
  • A Bachelor’s degree in relevant fields with additional 2 years of experience may be considered in lieu of Master's degree.

Work Experience

  • 5 years of experience in the field of geology is required;
  • 3 year of specific experience in earthquake and landslide geology is required;
  • Experience in project and programme monitoring is required;
  • Prior knowledge of geological issues of Nepal would be an advantage;
  • Relevant work experience in difficult environments such landslide mapping, ground investigations, etc is highly desirable;
  • Excellent knowledge of development issues and practice is desirable;
  • Experience of managing diverse and multi-cultural teams is desirable;
  • Strong staff management and team-building skills;
  • Excellent analysis, communication, negotiation and representational skills, and demonstrated ability to handle sensitive situations diplomatically:
  • Ability to establish priorities and plan work assignments;
  • Good knowledge of Nepal and its political, social and cultural context is desirable;
  • Proficient in the use of computers and office software packages (MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint) is required;
  • Experience in handling web-based management systems is desirable;

Language Proficiency in written and spoken English is required


Develops and implements sustainable business strategies, thinks long term and externally in order to positively shape the organization. Anticipates and perceives the impact and implications of future decisions and activities on other parts of the organization.
Treats all individuals with respect; responds sensitively to differences and encourages others to do the same. Upholds organizational and ethical norms. Maintains high standards of trustworthiness. Role model for diversity and inclusion.
Acts as a positive role model contributing to the team spirit. Collaborates and supports the development of others. For people managers only: Acts as positive leadership role model, motivates, directs and inspires others to succeed, utilizing appropriate leadership styles.
Demonstrates understanding of the impact of own role on all partners and always puts the end beneficiary first. Builds and maintains strong external relationships and is a competent partner for others (if relevant to the role).
Efficiently establishes an appropriate course of action for self and/or others to accomplish a goal. Actions lead to total task accomplishment through concern for quality in all areas. Sees opportunities and takes the initiative to act on them. Understands that responsible use of resources maximizes our impact on our beneficiaries.
Open to change and flexible in a fast paced environment. Effectively adapts own approach to suit changing circumstances or requirements. Reflects on experiences and modifies own behavior. Performance is consistent, even under pressure. Always pursues continuous improvements.
Evaluates data and courses of action to reach logical, pragmatic decisions. Takes an unbiased, rational approach with calculated risks. Applies innovation and creativity to problem-solving.
Expresses ideas or facts in a clear, concise and open manner. Communication indicates a consideration for the feelings and needs of others. Actively listens and proactively shares knowledge. Handles conflict effectively, by overcoming differences of opinion and finding common ground.

Additional Considerations

  • Please note that the closing date is midnight Copenhagen time
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be considered.
  • Only those candidates that are short-listed for interviews will be notified.
  • Qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • For staff positions only, UNOPS reserves the right to appoint a candidate at a lower level than the advertised level of the post
  • The incumbent is responsible to abide by security policies, administrative instructions, plans and procedures of the UN Security Management System and that of UNOPS.  

It is the policy of UNOPS to conduct background checks on all potential recruits/interns. Recruitment/internship in UNOPS is contingent on the results of such checks.

Contract type, level and duration

Contract type: International Individual Contractor Agreement ( on a retainer basis )
Contract level: IICA 2
Contract duration: Initially for 4 months with possibility of extension

For more details about the ICA contractual modality, please follow this link: 

Background Information - UNOPS

UNOPS supports the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world. Our mission is to serve people in need by expanding the ability of the United Nations, governments and other partners to manage projects, infrastructure and procurement in a sustainable and efficient manner.

Working in some of the world’s most challenging environments, our vision is to advance sustainable implementation practices, always satisfying or surpassing our partners’ expectations.

With over 7,000 personnel spread across 80 countries, UNOPS offers its partners the logistical, technical and management knowledge they need, wherever they need it.

A flexible structure and global reach means that we can quickly respond to our partners' needs, while offering the benefits of economies of scale. 

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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  • Organization: UNOPS - United Nations Office for Project Services
  • Location: Kathmandu | Nepal (Nepal)
  • Grade: IICA-2, International Individual Contractors Agreement - Mid level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Engineering
    • Project and Programme Management
  • Closing Date: 2017-08-07

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