International Chief Technical Adviser

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
International Organization
Experience Level: 
Senior (10+ Years)
Degree Required: 
Bachelor's (Or Equivalent)


Please note: this job post has expired! To the best of our knowledge, this job is no longer available and this page remains here for archival purposes only.


From cities to remote desert, across the nation’s entire territory, water management plays a defining role in all aspects of life in Turkmenistan. Water management encompasses a wide range of natural and human-managed features, including rivers, other water sources, dams, 15 reservoirs, irrigation networks, interdistrict and interfarm canals, drainage collectors, and a far-flung complex of built structures for diverting and pumping water.

Water resources of Turkmenistan come mostly from four transboundary rivers – the Amu-Darya, the Murghab, the Tejen, and the Atrek – with volumes based on shares negotiated with other countries through which these waterways pass. The Amu-Darya, which is Central Asia’s longest river, provides about 88 percent of Turkmenistan’s water for human use. Water is distributed throughout Turkmenistan via networks of canals, extending over 42,500 km, as well as a collector-drainage network over 35,000 km. The longest among these is the Karakum Canal (known also in the country as the Karakum River), which extends over more than 1300 km across almost all of Turkmenistan’s length and nearly reaching the Caspian Sea.

Management of water resources of Turkmenistan is implemented in three administrative tiers. The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Economy of Turkmenistan (MAWE) oversees water management across the country. The National Committee on Nature Protection and Land Resources is responsible for implementing state policy in protection and rational use of natural resources, also at the national level. Both government agencies operate under the general authority granted to them by the Constitution and the national Water Code and Land Code, as overseen by the President and the Cabinet of Ministers.

At the second tier of the hierarchy, both MAWE and Nature Protection Committee have five regional agencies to carry out their work, one in each velayat. Within MAWE, each regional agency in turn oversees a third level of water management consisting of local district water management agencies. These third-tier agencies include district irrigation system operators (DISOs) or district production management agencies (DPMAs), and generally operate within the boundaries of administrative districts known in Turkmen as etraps. In all, MWE oversees 119 affiliated organizations and enterprises at the various levels nationwide.

Water management in Turkmenistan is centrally planned and implemented by the Government via MAWE, largely in isolation from market dynamics. MAWE owns essentially all water management infrastructure from canals to pumps, from the source all the way to the farmer or other end user. The state budget is the source for all investment funds for new and upgraded infrastructure. For about 25 years water was supplied within approved limits free of charge to both agricultural and residential consumers as a benefit contributing to overall social welfare. There were therefore essentially no financial incentives for end users to conserve water within their approved quotas. Recently announced decision to abolish free water allotment from 2019 will help to stimulate more efficient use of water resources.

The current water management system of Turkmenistan serves its essential purpose of supplying water to end users. But Turkmen officials and scientists note deficiencies. Distribution of water is inequitable over the hydrographic network, with shortages at the ends of canals in water-stressed years. Both within watersheds and in parts of the system that interconnect among various sources, disagreements emerge about management solutions for lack of a sufficiently clear and rational legal framework. Deficiencies in the legal and policy framework also lead to gaps among various levels of government agencies and resource management water users. Greater clarification and integration are needed.

Moving billions of cubic meters of water over thousands of kilometers requires vast inputs of energy. Turkmenistan’s networks of canals and drainage collectors, as well as its wells, are served by approximately 3500 pumping stations with a total installed electric power capacity in excess of 250 MW.[1] Most of this powered infrastructure dates back to the Soviet era and has not been replaced. Due to its sheer size, but also inefficiencies resulting from age, insufficient maintenance, and other factors water management is the second largest power-consuming sector in Turkmenistan, accounting for about 25 percent of total power consumption.

In addition, in remote areas not connected to the electric grid, especially in the Dashoguz velayat, diesel fuel is used to run approximately 1179 pumps. This equipment varies widely in water-pumping capacity and energy consumption rates, with most consuming about 14 liters of diesel fuel per hour of operation. Based on a conservative estimate of 700 hours of operation per year per pump, the project team estimates that diesel-powered water pumps in Turkmenistan collectively consume about 15 million liters of fuel per year.

There are three major ways to raise energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and curtail associated GHG emissions from the water management sector. The first is to reduce water losses and consumption, thereby reducing pumping volumes and pumping energy consumption throughout the system. The second is to increase the efficiency of pumps and other energy-using infrastructure. The third is to replace pumps and other infrastructure with more efficient or renewable technology. The proposed UNDP/GEF project will pursue all three of these paths.

Project strategy

As problems of water management, energy consumption, land degradation (salinization), and agricultural productivity are all closely intertwined in Turkmenistan, so too are potential solutions. The project will address these problems through integrated activities, with a goal toward achieving multiple benefits in different areas. Thus improved water management will lead not only to greater water availability, but also to significant energy savings, avoided GHG emissions, and reduced salinization. Application of new renewable-energy solutions in water management will lead not only to avoided GHG emissions, but also to greater water availability in remote populated areas. This integrated approach will be practically applied and technically proven first at specific sites in the Akhal velayat, then replicated across the country through region-specific planning and outreach, as well as supporting policies and investment at the national level.

The project’s activities are organized into four components.

  • Component 1 will introduce new technologies in irrigated agriculture and pumping for energy efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable land management (SLM).
  • Component 2 will scale-up investment in new and expanded efficient water-management infrastructure.
  • Component 3 will deliver local and region-specific planning and educational outreachfor IWRM and SLM among farmers and water-sector designers and managers
  • Component 4 develops and supports implementation of policy reform for IWRM.


The first two components will constitute the technical foundation of the project. For agriculture and infrastructure, respectively, these components will identify, verify, and document the most promising ways to save water, increase energy efficiency, and reduce water-related root causes of land degradation in Turkmenistan. The components will generate technical and financial performance data and practical experience to be used to plan and provide necessary justification to scale-up public investment and technology deployment nationwide.

There are two project pilot regions in Geokdepe and Kaahka both in Akhal region. In Geokdepe the project created infrastructure for establishing a 145 ha research and training farm which employs several different types of irrigation systems including drip, centre pivot, linear-move, improved furrow irrigation. The first agriculture season demonstrated that improved water management practices at the site lead to significant water and energy savings, avoided GHG emissions, and reduced salinization.

In Kaahka district the project completed construction of a nearly 15 km long gravity pipeline directly from the river, thus eliminating infiltration losses and replacing electric wells with the simplest form of renewable energy – a gravity-based system with water flowing downhill. Installation of the pipeline would obviate the need for continued operation of nearly 40 wells for at least 10-15 years, by MAWE forecasts, thus leading to huge electricity savings from avoided operation and energy consumption of pumps.

In 2019 the project will also replace several old pumps with modern energy efficient ones where most needed. It will form the basis of a quantitative baseline against which to compare pump performance after efficiency improvements from project activity. 

In 2019 the project will carry out one small demonstration project to create high-quality water supply in a desert area via use of solar energy. There are difficulties in electric supply over the whole settlement, with operation of a diesel generator only few hours a day. The design, physical installation, and operation of the demonstration project will be supplemented by hands-on training of local residents on the use and maintenance of the new technology.

In 2019 the project will also implement 2-3 pilot projects to test canal lining materials on irrigation earthen canals. Results of field research, testing and analysis will be compiled into a report, including recommendations and cost estimation by national and international experts for the most promising prospects for further government investments for replication nationwide.

While the first two components define the technical opportunity and priorities for replication, the second two components will seek to carry actual replication out on a national scale. The third component supports replication from the bottom up via development of action plans at the regional and district levels across the country, as well as educational outreach and capacity-building among farmers and local water-management personnel. The fourth component will work from the top down, defining and implementing policies, programmes, and investment plans for integrated water management and SLM at the national level.

The project developed drafts of four regulatory acts, including (i) operational regulations for pump stations; (ii) regulation for scheduled preventive maintenance and repair of water systems and facilities; (iii) technical regulations of irrigation infrastructure; and (iv) technical regulations of drainage infrastructure. The documents are under review of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Economy. The work on improvement of national regulatory framework will be continued in 2019 with development of by-laws to support implementation of conditions of Water Code.

This project embodies the notions of integration and integrated water resource management (IWRM) in an unusually wide variety of senses. Its most narrow technical meaning applies in the project’s vertical integration of end-use irrigation needs with upstream planning and management, as well as with drainage. The project also reflects integration in a more general sense pertaining to project design, with individual investment projects integrated with strategic approaches for scale-up, and local planning integrated with national policy and investment. Most fundamentally, the project integrates various environmental and social goals of critical importance to Turkmenistan – water availability, water conservation, reduction of land degradation, agricultural productivity, and energy efficiency – with each other, and with the broader goals of sustainable national economic development and protection of the global environment.

Duties and Responsibilities

The objective of the assignment is to support and guide UNDP and the project management in implementation of the project and its different sub-components and activities ensuring that they comply with the agreed benchmarks and success indicators of the project as well as international best practices and lessons learnt. The expected level of involvement will be up to 80 days (including four 7-day missions) within this assignment.

Under the direct supervision of Project Manager and overall supervision of UNDP Programme Specialist on Environment, the consultant's specific responsibilities, among others, will be to provide overall support to the local project management team in implementation of the project's different sub-components, including support to the project manager in the preparation of the project reports and the annual output specific work plans, drafting of Terms of Reference for the local and, as needed, additional international experts and subcontractors, required tender documents etc. More concretely, the consultant is tasked to:


  1. Read all documents produced by the project including MTR report, consult regularly with project team to identify key technical problems (if any) and means for solving them, participate, when feasible, in Project Board Meetings and other relevant project meetings
  2. Propose possible adjustments and necessary amendments, support the preparation of the overall Project Work Plan for the remaining project lifetime, activities envisioned for every project quarter, evaluation plan, sustainability plan to ensure that project results are replicated through improved national policies and practices, communication strategy/action plan
  3. Support Project Manager in carrying out field work through field visits and meetings with all relevant stakeholders. Also provide support to Project Manager in using better monitoring and planning tools and writing quality reports.;
  4. Provide inputs for establishment of effective proactive risk management strategy;
  5. Support in preparation of materials for trainings, workshops, meetings, etc., in the area of his/her expertise;
  6. Support the Project Manager in checking deliverables (reports, analyses, etc.) of other consultants engaged by the Project in order to ensure quality, coordination and consistency of project outputs, and advising Project Manager accordingly and providing guidance to the international/local consultants when necessary;
  7. Provide guidance to ensure the capacity development of the project manager and project experts by identifying capacity development needs and preparing individual capacity development plans for the project staff, with a specific focus on innovations and efficient solutions to implement the project goals and components;


  1. Provide analysis and recommendations in relation to linking with other relevant programs, so that experiences can be shared, project's visibility in a larger setting ensured, and best practices utilized so as to maximize the impact of the project;
  2. Facilitates liaison and networking between and among the key stakeholders and other individuals involved in the project implementation;
  3. Provide technical input for further resource mobilization and policy advice on relevant donors;
  4. Provide technical inputs and support to Project Manager and Communication Associate in ensuring production of quality and timely communication products and outputs, as well as tools for promoting project visibility;

Deliverables and timeframe:

The international consultant should deliver a quarterly report at the end of each quarter to the project manager based on the agreed work/action plan of the assignment, indicating which of the key deliverables have been carried out or partially carried out;

The average number of days to be worked each quarter should be 20 working days;

The duration of the contract should be 12 months.

The total number of days to be worked is 80 working days of which at least 28 working days should be spent in Ashgabat and Turkmenistan. The minimum 28 working days to be spent in country (4 missions in the country) does not include travel days.


Payment conditions:

This is an installment-based contract that should cover the costs of consultancy required to produce the above deliverables. The final schedule of payments will be agreed upon in the beginning of consultancy but in general payment is expected on a quarterly basis following submission of the quarterly report together with associated deliverables. The calendar of deliverables and schedule and number of associated payments is subject to changes and revisions based on the consultant’s proposed methodology to implement the assignment and the assignment action plan to be agreed and cleared by UNDP provided that the overall number of days to be worked should not exceed 80 working days and the number of deliverables should not be reduced from what is in this TOR.

Time duration:

Duration of the contract is 12 months. The consultant will be engaged under the Individual Contract, immediately after the completion of the selection process. The contract will be issued for a period of 12 months from the start date of the assignment. The expected level of involvement will be up to 80 days within this assignment, of which a minimum of 28 working days must be based in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan The final schedule of missions and number of days per mission as well as the timeline for deliverables shall be agreed with the project manager and UNDP CO upon contract signing The contract may be subject to renewal based on the performance and project needs.


The consultant will be expected to provide long-distance advice (Maximum: 52 days) and in-country consultations (Minimum 28 days with minimum of 4 missions in the country) for a total of 80 days over a 12 months period. Therefore, the consultant is expected to be able to travel to Ashgabat and project sites, pursuant to the work plan of project's activities and as agreed with the project manager and UNDP CO.  During the assignment, the international consultant is expected to undertake missions to Ashgabat and project sites.


Corporate Competencies:

  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling the UN’s values and ethical standards;
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNDP;
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability;
  • Treats all people fairly without favoritism;
  • Fulfills all obligations to gender sensitivity and zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

Functional Competencies:

  • Ability to lead strategic planning, results-based management and reporting;
  • Builds strong relationships with clients, focuses on impact and result for the client and responds positively to feedback;
  • Consistently approaches work with energy and a positive, constructive attitude;
  • Excellent training, facilitation and communication skills;
  • Demonstrates ability to manage complexities and work under pressure, as well as conflict resolution skills;
  • Results driven, ability to work under pressure and to meet required deadlines;
  • Good understanding and practice of capacity development.

Required Skills and Experience


  • University degree in Water, Environment or Energy issues; Advanced degree in water, environment and energy related issues is considered as an advantage.


  • At least 10 years of experience in coordinating, designing, implementing and/or advising in technical assistance projects in the area of climate change mitigation, energy efficiency or related field, preferably with focus on international management of energy efficiency, water, environment or energy management;
  • At least 5 years of experience with project management, including the effective provision of substantive leadership and guidance, oversight, monitoring and reporting;
  • Proven experience and success in supporting similar projects (or its sub-components);
  • Experience and good knowledge of transition economies, in particular in CIS countries is an asset;
  • Track record of effectively communicating and working with multi-stakeholders, including high-level government officials, development partners, academics, private sector and communities;
  • Good knowledge of international best practices in the project related fields, state of the art approaches in the specific areas the project and its subcomponents are dealing with;
  • Prior experience and knowledge of UNDP and GEF project’s procedures and reporting is an asset;


  • Fluency in English. Knowledge of Russian will be an asset;

Additional requirements for recommended contractor:

Recommended contractors aged 65 and older, and if the travel is required, shall undergo a full medical examination including x-ray, and obtain medical clearance from the UN-approved doctor prior to taking up their assignment. The medical examination is to be cleared by the UN physicians, and shall be paid by the consultant.