Programme Specialist


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.
Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.
And we never give up.

For every child, a child-friendly community

UNICEF Malawi Country Programme (2019-2023) is aligned with the Government of Malawi’s Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS III) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The programme supports the Government of Malawi to meet its commitment to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights in line with international conventions and standards. The country programme is guided by the principles of children’s rights, equity, gender equality, inclusion and resilience, and supports evidence-based, integrative and innovative programming. The vision is that ”all girls and boys in Malawi, especially the most disadvantaged and deprived, realize their rights”. The programme focuses on early childhood (parenting, high-impact social services, early stimulation and learning), middle childhood and adolescence (learning, multi-sectoral services, active citizenship), communities (decentralized services and systems, community ownership, social norms), programme effectiveness (monitoring, evaluation, HACT, Innovation, Social Protection and Social Policy and External Communication. The programme is based on “leaving no child behind”, realizing ‘rights for all children in Malawi’.

Framed within the Pillar 3 (Child-friendly, inclusive and resilient communities), the Community Development and Resilience (CDR) Section is strategically positioned to support the Government of Malawi’s priorities in facilitating long-term multi-sectoral development for active citizenship and decentralization, disaster preparedness and resilience, community ownership and empowerment, and attention to changing harmful social norms and promoting good practices. The section’s efforts to support the government and other partners to strengthen and systematize the linkages between humanitarian and development programming contribute to delivering better results for children and their communities. The CDR section is also championing the flagship programme of Child-Friendly Communities approach supporting local governments in implementing the 2030 Agenda through holistically addressing issues related to the well-being of children and families at the local level. This is being achieved through collaboration and integration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), the district and council Government’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA), Ministry of Information (MoI) as well as Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity. The principles of leaving no child behind and realizing rights for all children – every girl and boy in Malawi provide the rationale for the section’s priorities.

How can you make a difference?

The Malawi Country Office offers an exciting and rewarding career opportunity for you to join our dynamic Community Development and Resilience (CDR) team where you will be responsible for providing technical expertise and assistance on local government and decentralization issues, working closely with the sectors to support the local governments in delivering access to social services, disaster and risk management, promotion of inclusive and sustainable local development, promotion of collective action, participation of marginalized groups and representation of women at all levels.

In your role, you will directly report to the Chief of CDR for functional and technical oversight, however, you will also operate in a matrix management model, where you will support different programme pillars and have a dotted reporting line y to the Chief of Social Policy.

This job presents a unique and significant opportunity for a qualified, vibrant, motivated and committed person to be to contribute to the overall achievement of transformative results for children by delivering on the following key responsibility areas, but not limited to – you are however encouraged to read the attached and detailed job description in order to view the full role and its requirements:

  1. Lead local governance cross-sectoral programme planning, development and management at national and district level to ensure local government is empowered and promotes child rights in an effective way.
  2. Drive technical and operational support to multi-sectoral programme implementation with key stakeholders and partners as well as UNICEF thematic sections.
  3. Build and strengthen networking with exciting and new partners, including government and civil society organizations at national and district level.
  4. Promote innovative mechanisms within local government structures to enable child rights during planning and implementation.
  5. Promote knowledge management on local governance practices with key partners and stakeholders, ensuring that regional and global priorities are also incorporated.
  6. Strengthen and build systems and capacities of local government structures in line with child rights priorities.
  7. Strengthen and coordinate internal UNICEF work around decentralization, community empowerment and system strengthening at community level, ensuring that a coherent community approach is mainstreamed throughout UNICEF sections.

To qualify as a champion for every child you will have…


  • An advanced university degree in one of the following fields is required: political science, governance, public administration management or another relevant technical field.


  • A minimum of five years of professional experience providing policy advice and programme support in the general area of Local Governance is required.
  • Sound experience in Local Development and Decentralization in different development contexts is required.
  • Strong experience in providing technical assistance to local governments, including through participatory approaches.
  • Experience working in a developing country is considered as an asset.
  • Relevant experience in decentralization and local governance in a UN system agency or organization is considered as an asset.
  • Experience in both development and humanitarian contexts is an added advantage.
  • Experience working in a developing country is considered as a strong asset.
  • Background and/or familiarity with emergency is considered as an asset.

Knowledge and Technical skills:

  • Demonstrated knowledge of the legal and regulatory frameworks for local governance is an asset.
  • Understanding of local governance structure, government policies, guidelines, legislation, and strategies is required.
  • Understanding of Rights-based and Results-based approach and programming is a strong asset.
  • Understanding of UN mission and system; and International Code of Conduct is a strong asset
  • Understanding of gender equality and diversity awareness is required.


  • Fluency in English and one of the local languages, both strong written and verbal skills, is required.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

Core Competencies

  • Demonstrates Self Awareness and Ethical Awareness (2)
  • Works Collaboratively with others (2)
  • Builds and Maintains Partnerships (2)
  • Innovates and Embraces Change (2)
  • Thinks and Acts Strategically (2)
  • Drives to achieve impactful results (2)
  • Manages ambiguity and complexity (2)

Functional Competencies

  • Formulating strategies and concepts (2)
  • Analyzing (2)
  • Applying technical expertise (2)
  • Learning and researching (2)
  • Planning and organizing (2)

Apply Now