National or International Consultancy: Drone and Data Specialist

  • Contract
  • Malawi

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, Innovation…

Drones, data and artificial intelligence are leapfrog technologies that allow for informed and agile development response and potentially accelerate economic growth in the region. To harness these technologies and to achieve these development goals, Malawi has embarked on a bold and clear mission to adopt and streamline these technologies and facilitate the incubation of entrepreneurial spirit and technologies. Continuing in its tradition as the first country in the world, UNICEF and the Government of Malawi established the Humanitarian African Drone Corridor and the first African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA). Since the past five years UNICEF Malawi has facilitated and designed solutions that have leveraged the use of drones to fight malaria, cholera, deliver vaccines, vital blood supply, support the fight against AIDS and COVID-19, and provide the right capability to tackle Climate Change and in disaster management.

UNICEF Malawi is thus building and strengthening the drone and data ecosystem for more effective humanitarian and development response. Our programmatic effort now also puts emphasis on understanding and leveraging geographic information systems (GIS), aerial land surveying and the analysis of drone acquired imagery data for various development and humanitarian applications. UNICEF’s ‘Drones and Data for Good’ vision, focuses on the potential of technology to deliver positive results for every child. The multi-purpose use of drones and innovative data, including artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics, will help to improve health services (through e.g. transport of medicine, samples, etc.), emergency preparedness and response (through e.g. climate change forecasting, flood mapping and response) or food security (through e.g. precision agriculture) and thus directly benefit the children of Malawi.

How can you make a difference?

Under the guidance of the Innovations Specialist and in close collaboration with the UNICEF Malawi Pillar Coordinators and thematic experts, the Drone Specialist will be responsible for coordinating all drone related activities in Malawi. S/he will technically support the Monitoring Specialist (Data & Analytics) and Technology for Development Specialist in implementing data innovation activities. S/he will provide technical inputs, support partnerships, and coordinate with cross-cutting stakeholders on the operationalization of the Drone Corridor. S/he will facilitate linkages with the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA), in collaboration with the ADDA Programme Specialist, along with enabling the expansion of the in-country drone ecosystem. This assignment will be based in Lilongwe with occasional travels within Malawi. However, some of the work may be done remotely subject to the approved work plan.

Key expected results include:

  1. Coordinate all drone related activities in the Malawi Country Office (20%)
  • Spearhead coordination of all drone and data innovation related activities with the Malawi Country Office to ensure consistency, coherence, and continuous information flows across the sector. The activities include:
    • Partnership management (academic, private, governmental entities)
    • Resource mobilization, donor reporting, and collaboration with donors
    • Maintenance of the drone project repository with regular updates and information to maintain project management consistency of drone-focused projects in the office
    • Preparing procurement, knowledge-sharing, stakeholder management, internal process, and other documents (internal or external use) that are related to the drone projects implementation
    • Creating lessons learned and knowledge sharing assets for capacity building and continuity of the drone portfolio
    • Any portfolio recruitment related activities (drafting Terms of Reference, scope of work, conducting selection, etc.)
  • Provide technical guidance and support on application of drone technologies and data innovations to support UNICEF Malawi programmes for children.
  1. Administration of the Drone Testing Corridor (30%)
  • Support the engagement of industry (both startups and more established players) in both developed and developing countries, and facilitate the process of outreach and selection of companies that use the corridor, based on established selection criteria and in close collaboration with UNICEF Malawi Country Office, UNICEF New York and the Government of Malawi.
  • Provide overall logistic coordination and implement protocols (i.e. for partners to come to Malawi, test their technology, engage in skills transfer and training of Malawian engineers, and publish open results of tests).
  • Facilitate relationships and partnerships between the Government of Malawi, UNICEF and relevant industry partners, in order to maintain and enhance the drone corridor.
  • Support participation, testing and preparation of workshops for start-ups from the Office of Innovation Venture Fund cohort of companies.
  • Working closely with Department of Civil Aviation and support with the Corridor’s administration.
  • Collect lessons learned and knowledge-sharing materials, manage the in-corridor collected aerial data and flight log data and present it all in year-end Report for the public use.
  1. Project Implementation and Local Capacity Building (45%)
  • Work with national stakeholders to ensure steady local capacity building and sustainability of the drone portfolio; areas: project management, drone operations, stakeholder management, knowledge management, and etc.
  • Technically support and facilitate (where relevant and needed) the following projects/vendors:
    • Multi-purpose use of drones including inter alia supply chain systems strengthening projects
    • Climate change forecasting modelling project in cooperation with UNICEF’s Community Development, WASH and data teams
  • Provide government authorities with technical support and guidance on emerging hardware and technologies linked to UAVs, including unmanned air traffic management (UTM) system.
    • Support Department of Civil Aviation as regulator to monitor performance of drone operating companies
  1. Strategy implementation and knowledge management of the Drone Ecosystem (5%)
  • Contribute to the documentation and dissemination of learnings and best practices to ensure effective sharing and generation of knowledge and research on drone-related work in UNICEF Malawi and beyond. By doing so work closely with the UNICEF Office of Innovation and Supply Division to ensure the dissemination of lessons learned.
  • Working closely with governmental partners and Malawi’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft Steering Committee, in ensuring the inclusiveness of the drone ecosystem in Malawi, which sustainably scales and systematically integrates the cross-cutting use of drones into development and humanitarian response, through financially viable mechanisms, strategic partnerships and targeted, national investment in technology, infrastructure and capacity development.
  • In collaboration with the government develop a strategy to build resilience against the impacts of climate change through the implementation of sustainable climate change initiatives and interventions utilizing drone and data technologies. These may include supporting early warning systems to improve preparedness and enhanced recovery capacity.
  • Establish a clear strategy in collaboration with key stakeholders that support the supply chain systems using drone technology. Focus on Health supply chain strengthening, with the goal of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain to improve maternal and child health outcomes, including the integration of drones into the supply chain.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • A university degree in one of the following fields is required: Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Aeronautics, Computer Science, Technology Management, Geographic Information Systems, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Business Management, Public Administration or other technically relevant disciplines.

    *An advanced university degree in the above fields will be an advantage.

    Work experience: Minimum of 5 years of progressively responsible professional experience in project management, particularly in testing, implementing and scaling emerging technologies or new hardware is required.

    Technical skills and knowledge:

    • Knowledge of technical aspects in aviation, airspace regulations or experience working with UAVs is essential. Experience in the drone industry is an asset.
    • Understanding of mapping, GIS, data science (artificial intelligence, machine learning) and relevant approaches is essential.
    • Experience with applications of data and/or autonomous systems (drones, robotics, mechanical) in management or support of health, environment, climate, population welfare, economic development, knowledge/technology transfer, nutrition, agriculture, etc. Is highly preferred.
    • Experience as a lecturer/faculty/researcher on drones or geo-referenced data at an international higher education institution, preferably with a Malawian higher education institution, is preferred.
    • Practical experience or familiarity in using drones to transport goods and/or harnessing geo-referenced data from drone acquired imagery to support relevant use cases (e.g. agriculture, forestry, irrigation, emergency preparedness, emergency response) is an asset.

Please refer to the attached full Terms of Reference  for more details on the consultancy and requirements.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

The UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

  • Proven ability to manage relationships with partners, including government ministries, universities, intellectual leaders, UN organizations, NGOs and the private sector.
  • Work experience in teaching, skills-training or capacity building, or background experience with academia and research is an asset.
  • Proven ability to conceptualize, plan and execute ideas as well as to transfer knowledge and skills.
  • Experience with monitoring and evaluation of large, complex projects with multi-partner engagement. Understanding and demonstrated use of systems approach and design thinking in problem solving and/or project management
  • Experience working in the private sector or managing corporate partnerships is preferred.
  • Experience in start-up companies/organizations and entrepreneurial failures are considered valuable.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • International and developing country work experience is an asset.


  • Fluency in English is required, both written and verbal communication skills.

To view our competency framework, please visit here.

Click here to learn more about UNICEF’s values and competencies.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


Interested consultants should provide the following:

  1. Expression of interest / motivation letter
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Examples of work on drone related activities
  4. Financial proposal including a breakdown of their all-inclusive fees (including professional fees, travel, living cost, visa and other costs). Download File Financial Proposal for Consultancy.xlsx Complete the attached form.
  5. References details from 3 persons with whom the candidate has worked closely, including former and current supervisors


Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

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