Programme Specialist (Local Governance and Decentralization)

  • Full Time
  • Lilongwe
  • Applications have closed


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’.

How can you make a difference?

The Programme Specialist’s (Local Governance and Decentralization) principal supervisor is the Chief Community Resilience. The incumbent will operate in a matrix management model, where s/he will support different programme pillars and report to different supervisors, namely the Chief of Social Policy and the Chief of Programme Planning and Monitoring. The principal supervisor will lead the performance review process. S/he will engage with the incumbent’s secondary supervisors for feedback. Ultimately, the principal supervisor will determine the final rating.

The Programme Specialist (Local Governance and Decentralization) prepares, executes, manages, and implements a variety of technical and administrative programme tasks to facilitate programme development, implementation, and programme progress monitoring, evaluating and reporting. Specifically, s/he is 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.

Summary of key functions/accountabilities:


• Lead efforts to increase access to reliable and affordable social services; policy adherence at the local level; promotion of community participation in local governance decision-making, and support participatory and accountable local governance.
• To provide technical expertise in local governance areas and work closely with the relevant District authorities in planning and monitoring for results.
• Execute policy, strategy, and programme initiatives to support key results, outcomes, and outputs of the Strategic Plan and the Regional Programme.
• Coordinate the production of relevant analysis and guidance for policy advice and programme support that responds to country office needs.
• Apply multi-disciplinary approaches, including through setting up, coordinating, and engaging with district authorities to deliver services and programming needs.
• Incorporate gender equality and human rights’-based approach in policy and service delivery.
• Contribute to the development and establishment of sectoral programme outcomes and outputs, strategies, and results-based planning through research, analysis and reporting for development planning.


• Work collaboratively with colleagues and partners to collect, analyze and share information on implementation issues, provide solutions on routine programme implementation and alert appropriate officials and stakeholders for higher-level interventions and/or decisions.
• Keep records of reports and assessments for easy reference and/or to capture and institutionalize lessons learned.
• Lead on the design and formulation of support to decentralized structures, cutting across all sectors and working with local Government authorities and other development partners in the design and coordination on approach.
• Prepare documentation for programme reviews and analytical statements on progress and constraints of pillar outcome and output results.
• Provide technical and operational support throughout all stages of programming processes for the achievement of the output results. Ensure effective collaboration with other UNICEF sectors and pillar Outcome leads, where needed.
• With other external support agencies, analyze national government resilience programmes and projects, with a focus on outcomes using bottleneck analysis tools available across all the sectors.
• Coordinate internally and externally on the provision of real-time frontline data and its integration and use by national information management systems to ensure that local and national level decision-making are informed by timely data.
• Participate in monitoring and evaluation exercises, programme reviews and annual sectoral reviews with government and other counterparts and prepare reports on results for required action/interventions at the higher level of programme management.
• Monitor and report on the use of sectoral programme resources (financial, administrative and other assets), verify compliance with approved allocations, organizational rules, regulations/procedures and donor commitments, standards of accountability and integrity. Report on issues identified to enable timely resolution by management/stakeholders.
• Prepare regular and mandated sectoral programme/project reports for management, donors and partners to keep them informed of programme progress.


• Provides effective support to overall management of the decentralization programme focusing on quality control from formulation to implementation.
• Advise government institutions on the development of decentralization implementation policies, work plans, and systems.
• Develop system and platform for inter-sectorial coordination at District level in order to improve capacity for delivery of essential interventions.
• Support efforts towards government decentralization in social service sectors, while offering an opportunity to strengthen district level systems and promote local accountability.
• Working across internal sectors and with district authorities, supporting the process for multi-sectoral approach to service delivery.
• In collaboration with the Social Policy team, engage with districts on child sensitive public finance tracking and influencing fiscal decentralization to leverage resources at district.
• Working across the sectors, ensure that districts have the available data for programme budgeting, management and implementation.
• Facilitate the strengthening of local governance structures, to encourage joint and inclusive approaches for results for women and children at the local level:
• Supervise and monitor community cohesion related work across and provide technical advice to ensure the achievement of quality results;
• Identify capacity needs of district partners and support the design and implementation of capacity development initiatives.
• Promote community-led participatory analyses to inform project programming;
• Monitor and assess activity progress against the project’s Annual Work Plan targets and indicators;
• Ensure that project lessons learned and best practices are captured, documented and periodically shared;
• Conduct regular programme field visits and surveys and exchange information with partners/stakeholders to assess progress. Take appropriate action to resolve issues and/or refer to relevant officials for resolution. Report on critical issues, bottlenecks and potential problems for timely action to achieve results.
• Provide technical and operational support to government counterparts, NGO partners, UN system partners and other country office partners/donors on the application and understanding of UNICEF policies, strategies, processes to support programme implementation.


• Build and sustain close working partnerships with government counterparts and national stakeholders through active sharing of information and knowledge to facilitate programme implementation and build capacity of stakeholders to achieve and sustain output results.
• Participate in inter-agency meetings/events on programming to collaborate with inter-agency partners/colleagues on UNDAF development and planning process, to integrate and harmonize UNICEF output results and implementation strategies.
• Research information on potential donors and prepare resource mobilization materials and briefs for fund raising and partnership development purposes.


• Apply and introduce innovative approaches and good practices to build the capacity of partners and stakeholders, and to support the implementation and delivery of concrete and sustainable programme results.
• Keep abreast, research, benchmark, and implement best practices in governance and decentralization. Assess, institutionalize and share best practices and knowledge learned.
• Contribute to the development and implementation of policies and procedures to ensure optimum efficiency and efficacy of sustainable programmes and projects.
• Organize and implement capacity building initiatives to enhance the competencies of clients and stakeholders to promote sustainable results in related programmes/projects.
• Ensures facilitation of knowledge building and management in the decentralization programme.
• Creates an environment that fosters innovation and innovative thinking;
• Makes the case for innovative ideas from the team with own supervisor.
• Participate as a resource person in capacity building initiatives to enhance the competencies of clients and stakeholders in local governance and decentralization.

To qualify as an advocate 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, local development and decentralization in different development contexts, is required.
• Demonstrated knowledge of the legal and regulatory frameworks for local governance.
• Understanding of local governance structure, government policies, guidelines, legislation and strategies
• Understanding of Rights-based and Results-based approach and programming.
• Understanding of UN mission and system; and International Code of Conduct.
• Understanding of gender equality and diversity awareness.
• 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.
• Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language or local language of the duty station is considered as an asset.

Apply online via This Link: