Strategic Program Leader for Building Resilience

International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
Sri Lanka
Full time Staff

Please note that this is an extension of closing date and previous applicants need not apply again.


The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is a non-profit, research-for-development organization focused on the sustainable use of water and land resources in developing countries. The Strategic Programs of IWMI will be the vehicles for profiling and marketing what IWMI does and the lens for reporting our impact and capabilities. IWMI conducts research through three strategic programs:


  • Building Resilience: Water solutions to manage risk and variability
  • Promoting Sustainable Growth: Inclusive and innovative water management in rapidly changing economies
  • Managing Rural-Urban Linkages: Water, food and waste innovations in urbanizing landscapes

IWMI seeks an innovative thought leader and researcher to consolidate its Strategic Program on Building Resilience.


Water security is fundamental for building resilience in agroecologies and farming communities, and for contributing to food security, human well-being, and sustainable development in low- and middle-income countries. Under increasing pressure, agricultural systems have to produce more food and other products on less land, with less water and fertilizer, while also ensuring lower greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, this needs to happen on a large scale and at reduced cost, and must be sustainable. Making agriculture more resilient depends on science, technology and innovation.


The aim of this program is to help make rural communities more resilient with improved livelihoods, including higher incomes as well as stronger food and nutrition security. The program aims to achieve this by delivering reliable, research-based solutions and decision-support tools for farmers, resource managers and policy makers.


The ideal candidate for this position would be a dynamic individual who has a proven track record of providing strategic research leadership in a development context, and a demonstrated capability to lead the transformation of research into products and services, working in collaboration with international agencies, governments and the private sector. The candidate will bring to the position ample expertise and experience in the development of technical, social and institutional solutions for water management (including irrigation) in developing country agriculture. We will particularly welcome applications from candidates with an interest in precision or ‘smart’ farming and related technologies.


The program leader will guide the development of new knowledge and solutions that enhance resilience in agriculture, contribute to the sustainable management of surface water and groundwater resources, and promote integrated approaches to water risk and disaster management.


The leader will also provide thought leadership and overall direction for the program, championing its thematic vision. In addition, the leader will guide and motivate a multi-disciplinary team, including direct supervision of three research groups:

  • Agricultural Water Management
  • Resilient and Sustainable Groundwater
  • Water Risks and Disasters


The program leader will work with leaders of other institutes to ensure coherence across IWMI’s programs, as well as with the multi-partner CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), which is led by IWMI, and other CGIAR Research Programs in which the Institute participates, while providing inputs for regional and country strategies. The leader will also act as IWMI’s main focal point for the Strategic Program on Building Resilience, representing the Institute globally and regionally, and serving as its spokesperson on related issues. In addition, this person will play an active role in business development, and have a major responsibility for resource mobilization and overseeing the program’s overall financial performance. The leader will help cultivate relationships with strategic partners and donors, overseeing proposal development and quality control, guiding the creation of knowledge products, helping shape key messages, and working closely with communications to deliver research messages and stories through multiple channels.


The ideal candidate should be a renowned researcher with a PhD (or equivalent) related to the field/s of agricultural water management, irrigation engineering, precision agriculture/smart farming, hydrology and water resources management (surface water and groundwater), and geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing applications for integrated water resources management and/or water risk management. The candidate should also have at least 10 years of post-PhD experience in research for development in areas such as agricultural water resilience, and in identifying integrated approaches to water-related risk management and climate-smart/precision agriculture, with a strong international profile evidenced by important international partnerships with universities, research organizations, the private sector and intergovernmental bodies. This person will also have a strong track record in research for development and fund-raising from a diverse range of funders, including research councils, international bilateral agencies, international financial institutions, and foundations. The candidate should have experience in transforming research into products and services, and in catalyzing innovative financing options and funding streams to bring products to the knowledge market.


The selected candidate will be based at IWMI’s headquarters in Colombo, Sri Lanka, or at one of the Institute’s main regional hubs in Africa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, or Accra, Ghana) and report to Deputy Director General (Research for Development).


For a detailed job description and to apply for this position, visit


Your application must include a copy of your curriculum vitae, cover letter which addresses IWMI’s requirements stated above, and contact information of three professional referees who may be contacted if you are short-listed for the position. 


Applications must be submitted by October 10, 2017 or until this position is filled.


This is an internationally recruited position with a competitive salary and benefits package, which includes a housing allowance, transport, education, shipping assistance, annual home leave, and retirement and health insurance.  The duration of the contract will
initially be for a three-year period.




The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is a non-profit, scientific research organization focusing on the sustainable use of water and land resources in developing countries. IWMI works in partnership with governments, civil society and the private sector to develop scalable agricultural water management solutions that have a real impact on poverty reduction, food security and ecosystem health. Headquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka, with regional offices across Asia and Africa, IWMI is a CGIAR Research Center and leads the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE).


IWMI is an equal opportunity employer and emphasizes the importance of regional and gender diversity in identifying the candidates for this position and its staff more generally.

Closing date: 
10th September 2017