Closing date:

Early Warning Systems (EWS) Expert to ECOWAS

Abuja, Nigeria
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

This job posting has closed

Result of Service

Facilitate the establishment of a continental impact based EWS for Early Action and Transboundary Risk Management through:

  • The improvement of risk understanding;
  • Establishment of a situation room at ECOWAS premises; and
  • Capacitation of other situation rooms at AUC, ACMAD, RECs and Member States through a common web-based platform and Standard Operating Procedures.

Work Location

Abuja, Nigeria

Expected duration

5 Months


Created in December 1999, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) is the designated focal point in the United Nations system for the coordination of disaster reduction and to ensure synergies among the disaster reduction activities of the United Nations and regional organizations and activities in socio-economic and humanitarian fields. Led by the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDRR has around 100 staff located in its HQ in Geneva, Switzerland, and 5 regional offices and other field presences. Specifically, UNDRR coordinates international efforts in disaster risk reduction, and guides, monitors and reports on the progress of the implementation of the international strategy for disaster reduction, now the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015-2030; campaigns to create global awareness of disaster risk reduction benefits and empower people to reduce their vulnerability to hazards; advocates for greater investments in disaster risk reduction to protect people's lives and assets, and for increased and informed participation of men and women of all stakeholder groups in reducing disaster risk; and informs and connects people by providing practical services and tools such as Prevention Web, publications on good practices, and by leading the preparation of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction and the organization of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission is the engine room of all ECOWAS programmes, projects and activities. This ECOWAS administrative instrument was transformed from an Executive Secretariat to a Commission in 2007 in fulfilment of a decision to that effect taken the previous year in Niamey, Niger Republic. In the wisdom of the Heads of States and Governments, the change of nomenclature and administrative structure is to make ECOWAS adapt better to the international environment, bringing about more equity, transparency and greater functionality in accordance with global best practices. The Commission is in a better position to support ECOWAS member states to build their capacities for programme implementation. Having taken the historic decision to transform the ECOWAS Secretariat into a Commission, Heads of State and Government also endorsed institutional reforms covering all arms of ECOWAS. By implementing the transformation process faithfully, ECOWAS is re-positioned to fulfill the mandate of its founding fathers and meet emerging challenges. ECOWAS is taking ownership of the grand objectives designed to improve the living conditions of the citizenry, ensure economic growth and create an environment conducive to development and meaningful integration.

In March 2015, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030 was adopted by the UN General Assembly. In alignment with the SFDRR, the African Union (AU) member states developed a new Programme of Action (PoA) for the implementation of the SFDRR in Africa. In addition to the seven global targets of the Sendai Framework, the PoA has an additional 5 targets. The PoA aims to achieve "substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries." Early Warning Systems (EWS), which ensure people are prepared and ready to act in the event of a disaster, are one of the most effective measures that government can undertake to achieve substantial reduction of disaster losses. In that light, the PoA, as stipulated in the SFDRR, targets to substantially increase the availability of and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to people by 2030, and increase the number of countries with, and periodically testing, risk-informed preparedness plans, and, response, and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction mechanisms. However, achieving these targets would require establishment of agile and interactive early warning systems at all levels to facilitate mitigation, response and recovery to increasing frequency and intensity of natural hazards.

A regional and continental response has to be enhanced to proactively support member states in mitigating impacts of natural hazards and in event of a disaster. Observing from the recent disasters on the continent, hazards such as droughts, floods, tropical storms and cyclones, pests and epidemics have constantly affected more than one country simultaneously. Even where such hazards occur locally, the severity in which these events have manifested could easily overwhelm localized response. Many countries face multiple disasters at the same time. UNDRR partners with the AU Commission, The African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), the Regional Economic Communities - including ECOWAS - with Member States and other partners to mobilize resources for the establishment of Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS) supported by the Government of Italy under the project entitled “Establishment of the impact-based early warning for early action and trans-boundary risk management function of the African Union”. The initiative aims at building the capacity of the African Union Commission, African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD), Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Member States to effectively collect, exchange and analyse Risk information relevant to impact based Early Warning Systems (EWS) for Early Action and Trans-boundary Risk Management.

Under this framework, UNDRR is recruiting consultants to build capacity of the regional situation room at ECOWAS to improve quality and value of services for Disaster risk reduction at the continental, regional and national levels in Africa.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Expert for Early Warning Systems (EWS) and Disaster Operations will work under the overall supervision of the Deputy Chief of UNDRR Regional Office for Africa, and will liaise with the coordinator in the respective institution – Director, Humanitarian and DRR Directorate, Department of Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS. The consultant will work in close coordination with operators at the AUC, ACMAD, The Intergovernmental Authority on Development ( IGAD ) situation rooms and with the technical team within the technical partner organisation, the CIMA Research Foundation. Specifically, he/she will support the continental multi-hazard situation room at the Humanitarian and DRR Directorate in the setting up and operations of the situation room, ensuring a seamless implementation of the MHEWS. In the exercise of his/her functions the consultant shall:

  • Support the Director at the Social Affairs and Gender and the Director at the Humanitarian and DRR Directorate in developing the regional situation room for natural hazards;
  • Liaise with the DRR Director and team on all activities related to the design and realization of the situation room;
  • Support the Director in ensuring full a workflow and identifying solutions for staffing needs;
  • Coordinate the start-up and operations of the situation room;
  • Convene regular weekly regional meetings with relevant regional stakeholders and keep concise minutes of the meetings;
  • Participate in coordination and technical meeting with the other continental and regional situation rooms;
  • Ensure exchange of information with the continental and other regional situation rooms ad relevant technical bodies;
  • Ensure reporting on project implementation;
  • Lead the technical set-up and management of the situation room;
  • Coordinate installation of EWS software (myDEWETRA) for exchange of early warning information and ensure testing and operation of the system;
  • Liaise with EWS experts at AUC, ACMAD, IGAD, SADC and with hydro meteorological experts at Centre Regional de Formation et d'Application en Agrométéorologie et Hydrologie Opérationnelle (AGHRYMET), IGAD and SADC to improve the existing mechanism for the coordination of data exchange at the continental and the regional levels;
  • Provide input for the AUC situation room for EWS and situation reports and coordinate the preparation of bulletins and situation reports based on information collected through the new regional coordination mechanism established;
  • Design the regional multi-hazard early warning bulletin in consultation with other the relevant bodies at ECOWAS; • Coordinate the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the situation room in close consultation with the Member States; review and foster the development of data sharing policies and system of warnings and policy framework for sharing risk information; • Develop a system for warning and information dissemination; • Initiate the development of an institutional framework at the level of ECOWAS and facilitate the endorsement of the continental framework developed by AUC;  • Anticipate obstacles realistically and plan for contingencies – create plans that factor in time for unexpected problems and uncertainties; and • Establish mechanisms to facilitate and encourage knowledge sharing.

Qualifications/special skills

  • Advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent) in Environmental Engineering, Environmental Science, Disaster Risk Management, Geography, Hydrology or other relevant fields is required.
  • A first-level university degree in any of these fields in combination with two additional years of qualifying work experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.
  • Five (5) years of relevant experience at the national or international level in implementing Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes or other relevant field is required.
  • Experience in managing early warning or disaster operations projects and working in Africa at regional or national level on Disaster Risk Reduction/Management (DRR/M) is required.
  • Experience as a professional forecaster, including data management, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Early Warning Systems (EWS) management of emergency information, coordination of people and tasks, for the generation of Early Warning (EW) messages is desirable.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this position fluency in English and French is required.

No Fee


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