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JPO in Humanitarian Affairs


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA)


I. General Information

Title:                                             JPO in Humanitarian Affairs

Sector of Assignment:               Coordination Unit in UN OCHA ROLAC

Organization/Office:                   UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC)

Country and Duty Station:         Panama City, Republic of Panama

Duration of assignment:             2 years with possibility of extension for another year; the extension of appointment is subject to yearly review concerning priorities,
                                                      availability of funds, and satisfactory performance.

Please note that for participants of the JPO-Programme two years work experience are mandatory!

Internships/scholarships can be counted at 50% if they were full time and are regarded as relevant professional experience. Remuneration is not the determining factor. We only count internships after the Bachelor's degree.

II. Supervision

Title of Supervisor: Deputy Head of Office

Content and methodology of supervision: Establishment of a Work Plan: During the first month of the assignment, the Junior Professional Officer (JPO) will work jointly with his/her direct supervisor to finalize an agreed upon work plan. The final work plan will be discussed and mutually agreed to by the JPO and his/her supervisor.

Evaluation: The United Nations Performance Evaluation System (e-performance) will serve as a primary platform to evaluate of the JPO’s performance.

This position is in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC) in Panama City, Panama. Under the overall supervision of the Regional Disaster Response Adviser (RDRA), the JPO in Humanitarian Affairs, reports to the Deputy Head of Office /Senior Humanitarian Affairs.

The JPO in Humanitarian Affairs will work with the Coordination and Information teams and will benefit from the technical advice from the Regional Disaster Response Advisors. A monthly meeting as well as upon request, on guidance, progress achievement and performance appraisal can be organized to help the JPO to better in carrying out his/her functions

III. Duties, Responsibilities and Output Expectations

Within delegated authority, the JPO will be responsible for the following duties:

  • Monitors, analyzes and reports on humanitarian developments, disaster relief/ management programs or emergency situations in Northern Central America and/or Venezuela;
  • Assists in the production of appeals for international assistance; ensures the proper use and spending of donor contributions channeled through OCHA.
  • Assists efforts build capacity of member states for handling emergency situations; develops country-specific indicators for countries of concern in collaboration with area experts and ensures the subsequent monitoring of these indicators; recommends actions based on the analysis of pertinent information.
  • Initiates and coordinates activities related to technical cooperation and technical assistance projects in disaster response and disaster response preparedness; formulates project proposals and relevant project documents; provides technical support to field work; reviews and clears project reports for submission to governments.
  • Organizes and prepares studies on humanitarian, emergency relief and related issues; organizes follows-up work, including interagency technical review meetings to support policy development work and decision-making on important issues; and ensures the implementation of recommendations emanating from relevant studies.
  • Assists or leads, as appropriate, in the preparation of OCHA reports, studies, background papers, policy guidelines, correspondence, presentations, background papers, policy guidelines, parliamentary documents, etc.; with respect to the latter, takes the lead in providing support and information to relevant councils or other entities on specific issues.
  • Partners with other humanitarian agencies to plan and evaluate complex humanitarian and emergency assistance programs; helps ensure that latest findings, lessons learned, policy guidelines, etc. are incorporated into these activities, including gender-related considerations.
  • Establishes and maintains contacts with government officials, other UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, diplomatic missions, media, etc.; ensures appropriate mechanisms to facilitate collaboration and exchange of information both in and outside the UN system, including on early warning and contingency planning, etc.
  • Organizes and participates in work groups, meetings, conferences, consultations with other agencies and partner’s humanitarian and emergency relief-related matters.
  • May participate in planning and preparation of unit budget and work program.
  • Performs other duties as required.

IV. Qualifications and Experience

Education: Master’s degree in political science, sociology, law, health, public or business administration, international relations/studies, economics, or in the related areas of studies.

Work experience: A minimum of 2 years of progressively responsible relevant professional experience in management, emergency preparedness, crisis/emergency relief management and/or coordination, in rehabilitation and development areas, or in a related field. The overall professional experience must include at least 1 year of field experience based in crisis-affected countries and/or involving inter-agency coordination in natural disasters and complex emergencies, including humanitarian emergency efforts

Languages: Excellent spoken and written English and Spanish are required, and knowledge of French would be an asset.

Other skills:

  • Proven skills in analysis, negotiating, and leadership
  • Proven solid inter-personal and diplomatic skills
  • Proven experience on timely delivery of written reports prepared in an accurate and concise manner
  • Computer literacy
  • Ability to work with minimum supervision, with efficiency, competence and integrity with people of different national background

UN competencies:

  • Professionalism: Ability and experience across a broad range of support functions, e.g., work programme, human resources, etc. Knowledge and application of the UN systems and Staff Regulations and Rules. High degree of commitment to ensure the proper use of the organizations resources.
  • Planning and Organizing: Effective organizational skills and ability to prioritize own work programme and that of more junior staff.
  • Commitment to continuous learning: Initiative and willingness to learn new skills and become familiar with disaster preparedness and response standards and approaches.
  • Technological Awareness: Solid computer skills, including proficiency and knowledge OCHAs operations, UN Rules and Regulations. Full proficiency in various MS Office applications (Excel, Word, PowerPoint) and other IT applications
  • Teamwork: works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals, Good interpersonal skills; ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity. Demonstrated ability to develop and maintain effective work relationships with budget/finance, human resource counterparts and client departments.
  • Communication: Ability to write in a clear and concise manner and to communicate effectively orally.
  • Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect for Diversity

V. Learning Elements

On completion of the assignment, the JPO will have/be able to:

  • Lead/facilitate coordination forums with Government entities, UN Agencies, NGOs and International Organizations
  • Articulate analytical reports on the humanitarian situation and the broader context
  • Prepare and present humanitarian needs overviews based on assessments
  • Facilitate disaster response preparedness (e.g. contingency plans) with a wide range of partners and conduct desk top simulation exercises

VI. Background Information

Based in Panama, OCHA ROLAC covers 42 countries and territories and supports OCHA offices in Colombia and Haiti. The office supervises Humanitarian Advisory Teams (HAT), attached to the UN Resident Coordinator Offices in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. OCHA ROLAC aims to strengthen emergency response and preparedness in the region, working closely with its humanitarian partners and disaster management counterparts. Since its establishment in 2003, OCHA ROLAC has contributed significantly to the front-line surge capacity of OCHA, to the collective preparedness and response of the humanitarian community and to strengthening of member state capacity to work effectively with international partners. In recent years, OCHA ROLAC has increasingly worked in support of protection partners in contexts of “non-conventional violence” in Northern Central America.

OCHA ROLAC is staffed with eight international posts (seven in Panama and one in Caracas); 12 national posts in Panama and 11 in countries with HATs. OCHA ROLAC’s work focuses on four of the core functions of the organization: Coordination, Information Management, Advocacy and Humanitarian Financing.

The crises that affect the LAC region are diverse. Parts of Central America experience high levels of violence, forced displacement, and food insecurity. The Caribbean is hurricane prone, and on the forefront of countries negatively-affected by climate change. Earthquake fault lines put large urban populations in Mexico, Peru, and Colombia at risk. Disaster risk is compounded further as a result of corruption, instability, inequality, environmental degradation and unplanned urbanization. While disasters in the region do not always make international headlines, the economic and human costs – often affecting the most vulnerable – are devastating. Promoting emergency preparedness along with the ability and capacity to respond in line with international norms and standards has never been so important.

The effects of drought and flooding caused by El Niño on food security, nutrition, and health will be an ongoing issue for many. Indigenous communities, where poverty is prevalent and livelihoods are heavily dependent on natural resources, will suffer the most. Recurring shocks such as floods, tropical storms, earthquakes and hurricanes, will erode the resilience of affected communities further. The frequency, intensity, and impact of extreme climate events are expected to increase throughout the region.

High-risk exposure of Caribbean, with accelerated risks due to climate change. Disaster loss in the Caribbean is the second highest in the world, totaling US$3 billion. Studies show that the lethality of the events has also increased from 50% of disasters resulting in deaths in the 1990s to 75% in the past decade. Climate change, urbanization and agricultural practices are contributing factors to the increase in impact of disasters.

The region has an average of 90 to 100 natural disasters per year, meaning that every country in the region is at risk. One third of the population lives in high-risk areas. The majority of natural disasters are small-to medium-scale events caused by heavy rains, floods and landslides. In the last three years, there has been an average of six hurricanes per year and three major earthquakes.

Violence and forced displacement in parts of Central America are at crisis proportions. The scale and scope of violence in the Northern part of the region, namely El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have become a protection crisis. According to InSight Crime, 2015 murder rates per 10,000 inhabitants were at 103 for El Salvador, 90 for Venezuela, and 50 for Honduras. The global average is 7. Local populations are subjected to disappearances, abduction, extortion, forced recruitment into gangs, sexual violence, psychological trauma and death. Basic services are often disrupted or unavailable; and health workers frequently face threats or abuse. Social violence and organized crime hampers access to services and needs, increasing the need for humanitarian assistance.

Urbanization, insecurity, and inequality increase risk, especially for women and girls. Latin America and the Caribbean is 80% urban. It is also one of the most unequal and insecure regions in the world. The UNDP Human Development Report noted that for the first time in decades, the region experienced an increase in the number of poor women and men in 2015 and 2016. Millions of people are at risk of sliding into poverty. Inequality is exacerbated in emergency contexts, thus necessitating interventions take these complexities into consideration at both coordination and implementation levels.

The impact of political and economic crises in Venezuela is spilling over neighbouring countries in the form of growing number of Venezuelans leaving their country. This puts pressure on the capacities of hosting countries to provide protection as well as basic services.

The region contains several middle-income countries with consolidated democracies, growing economies, high levels of economic inequality and high vulnerability to natural disasters.

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Administration, management, Other specialisations, Sonstige Fachgebiete, Verwaltung/Management


Büro Führungskräfte zu Internationalen Organisationen (BFIO)

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