Lead Consultant: Central Asian Regional Risk Assessment

Location : Almaty, with travel to Dushanbe, Bishkek, and possibly other locations in/and outside of Central Asia, KAZAKHSTAN
Application Deadline :18-Aug-08 (Midnight New York, USA)
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Languages Required :
Expected Duration of Assignment :25 working days, between 25 August and 15 October 2008

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.


Situation analysis

Even the most advanced countries face development risks to be managed. This is apparent inter alia in the United States, where the financial system is currently being buffeted by the sub-prime mortgage crisis, and where New Orleans is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Central Asia is no exception. As is emphasised in the financial stability reports published by the National Bank of Kazakhstan, ensuring that global financial turmoil and rising food and energy prices do not exacerbate Kazakhstan's current economic slowdown is a priority for the authorities in Astana. As was underscored by the recent Aral Sea conference in Tashkent, the Government of Uzbekistan is calling attention to the possible short- and long-term impact of climate change on Central Asia's fragile ecosystems. The recent opening of the United Nations Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat demonstrates the Government of Turkmenistan's renewed commitment to preventing conflict and reducing tensions in the region.

Central Asia's less favoured countries find themselves particularly vulnerable to food, water, and energy insecurities. Tajikistan experienced a "compound crisis" during the winter of 2007-2008, as the exceptionally cold weather across Central Asia caused breakdowns in the country's energy infrastructure, and reduced winter crop yields and livestock herds. Slower economic growth and significantly higher food prices resulted-which were subsequently exacerbated by global trends and by the onset of drought conditions in the spring. According to government officials, the water level at the Nurek hydro power station in early July was some 7 metres below year earlier levels, and was not much above the "dead level", below which hydro power can not be generated. In order to ensure that hydroelectric resources will be sufficient to get the country through the winter of 2008-2009, the Government of Tajikistan has announced a series of emergency measures, including limits on household and industrial electricity deliveries effective September.

While water, energy, and food insecurity is sharpest in Tajikistan, these concerns are increasingly making themselves felt in Kyrgyzstan as well. Government representatives in early July unofficially disclosed that the water level in the Toktogul reservoir was some 10 metres down on year earlier levels, and was likewise flirting with the "dead level". The spectre of drought conditions and low water levels in Central Asia's "upstream" countries (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) could further exacerbate the perennial water concerns experienced by "downstream" Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, whose agricultural sectors rely extensively on irrigation. More broadly, higher global food and agricultural prices are exacerbating the effects of last winter's severe winter, raising fresh concerns across the region about inflation, food security, poverty, and malnutrition. While record high global energy prices are a boon to net energy exporters Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, they are also adding to inflationary pressures in these countries.

Central Asia in 2008 may therefore be facing the prospect of a compound crisis along three dimensions, reflecting the interplay of:

  • water, energy, and food security;
  • water, energy, and food security problems that require both national and trans-national solutions (and potentially exacerbating pre-existing regional tensions); and
  • water, energy, and food security problems that require responses of both a humanitarian (e.g., emergency food deliveries) and development (e.g., raising agricultural productivity, energy sector restructuring) nature.

Proposed response: Regional risk assessment

The international community is seeking to proactively help Central Asia's governments to better manage these humanitarian and development risks, and to alleviate their negative impact on vulnerable regions and social groups. The commissioning of an assessment of these risk and risk management responses, reflecting their interplay along the water/energy/food security dimensions as well as appropriate cross-border linkages within (and, where necessary, outside of) Central Asia, is a critical initial step. This assessment will also examine the lessons learned from Tajikistan's "compound crisis" during the past winter, as well as from the severe drought that afflicted Central Asia during 2000-2001.

The assessment will address risks to be managed in the following specific areas:

  • Trends in prices for foodstuffs, agricultural inputs, fuels, electricity, and water usage, as well as for overall consumer and producer price inflation;
  • Fossil fuel stocks and prices, for power generation;
  • Extent of electricity, water, and food rationing and food price controls (if and when such are applied);
  • The availability of water resources for hydropower generation during the winter of 2008-2009, and possible implications for irrigated water supplies during the 2009 harvest seasons;
  • Physical infrastructure, particularly as concerns storage capacity (for fuels, seeds, and other agricultural inputs), storage and transport logistics, and efforts to repair energy and water infrastructure damaged by the 2008 winter frosts (particularly in Tajikistan);
  • Seed availability for the 2009 winter and summer harvests;
  • Social safety nets broadly defined, regarding the ability of government social policies to target and protect those regions and social groups most affected by food, energy, and water insecurity;
  • Fiscal risks, drawing in particular on the results of the IMF and World Bank country missions during the third quarter of 2008 (Kyrgyzstan in July; Tajikistan in September); and
  • Cross-border transfer of agricultural inputs and products.

The assessment will be a(n):

- Mapping exercise, examining the relevant documentation pertaining to lessons learned-both in terms of government policy responses and humanitarian/development responses by the international community from Tajikistan's 2008 compound crisis, and from the Central Asian drought of 2000-2001;

- Consultative exercise, benefitting from the participation of key UN agencies, other bilateral and multilateral development partners, and regional institutions engaged in humanitarian and crisis prevention programming in Central Asia with a particular focus on the ongoing assessments being conducted within the framework of the UN's inter-agency task force (i.e., UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA, WHO and WFP);

- Analytical exercise, developing a detailed understanding of gaps in emergency and development responses and possible national and regional measures to be undertaken by governments and the international community in order to alleviate the negative impact on the most vulnerable segments of the population (particularly in terms of the governments' preparations for winter); and

- Integrative exercise, seeking to align the above with the most recent information and analyses concerning regional meteorological, hydrological, and socio-economic conditions and trends. Where appropriate, it will also seek to align short-term humanitarian with longer-term development interventions.

The assessment will emphasise the collection, dissemination, and synthesis of information and analyses already produced by national and international organisations, rather than the generation of new primary data or analysis. Examples of pre-existing (or now coming on line) information and analyses that the consultancy will review and integrate include:

  • The World Bank's Situation Analysis: 2008 Prospects for Drought, Crop Yields, and Hydropower Capacity in the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya Basin;
  • The European Commission's Crop Monitoring in Central Asia food security bulletins;
  • Biweekly situation reports to be prepared by the REACT secretariat in Tajikistan covering needs, available resources, gaps, and the status of key indicators;
  • Hydrological, meteorological, and agricultural data available on the "CA Water Info" and "Crop Explorer" web sites;
  • Food security and other relevant monitoring conducted by the World Food Programme, the Food and Agricultural Organisation, and the like.

The assessment will have a regional character, reflecting the common property nature of the region's water resources and the cross-border linkages apparent in their management. However, the bulk of the assessment will be concentrated in Central Asia's most vulnerable countries: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Duties and Responsibilities

Activities, reporting, timelines, deliverables

Work on the assessment will be lead by an international consultant, who will be supported by national consultant/experts in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The assessment will also be supported by the staff of international partners engaged in relevant development and humanitarian activities, particularly the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN agencies, and select bilateral donors.

The lead consultant will report to UNDP's Regional Centre in Bratislava, while the overall management of the exercise will be with UNDP Regional Director for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (RBEC). Under UNDP's direction, the lead and national consultants will work closely with the other partners supporting this exercise, particularly their offices in Central Asia.

In order to produce a report that meets the characteristics described in the previous section, the lead consultant will:

  • Examine the relevant documentation pertaining to lessons learned-in terms of government policy and humanitarian/development responses by the international community-from Tajikistan's 2008 compound crisis, and from the Central Asian drought of 2000-2001;
  • Consult with representatives of key UN agencies, other donors, and regional institutions engaged in humanitarian, crisis prevention, food security, energy sector restructuring, and poverty reduction programming in Central Asia?with a particular focus on the ongoing assessments being conducted within the framework of the UN?s inter-agency task force (i.e., UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA, WHO and WFP);
  • Synthesise and integrate the information and analyses that are already available on the topics pertaining to food, water, and energy security described above; and
  • Make recommendations for how the international community can better assist government preparations, and better prepare themselves, to manage these risks to food, water, and energy security.

These activities will allow the incumbent to present the following deliverables by:

  • 15 September 2008 - a detailed overview/rough draft of the consultancy's findings, to UNDP and other relevant partners;
  • 30 September 2008 - a full first draft of the consultancy's findings, to UNDP and other relevant partners; and
  • 15 October 2008 - a complete, final report.

The consultant may be asked to present these findings at (or otherwise participate in) a regional conference or workshop on this topic, which may be held in October/November 2008.


  • Excellent English-language oral and written communications skills (Russian-language capabilities would be a major asset).

Required Skills and Experience

  • Extensive Central Asian expertise, particularly in the water, energy, agriculture and food security areas;
  • A good understanding of the humanitarian and development activities and modus operandi of the relevant UN agencies, multilaterals and bilaterals, and other regional organisations working in Central Asia;
  • Crisis prevention expertise, particularly in terms of the lessons learned from Tajikistan's 2008 compound crisis
Application procedures:

Candidates are requested to apply on-line at http://europeandcis.undp.org/home/jobs/ in exceptional case send your application to hru.sk@undp.org (HR Unit, UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre) no later than August 17, 2008, 17:00 CEST time.

The application should contain:
  • Cover letter expressing interest and describing expected remuneration;
  • Detailed curriculum vitae/ P11 form, showing relevant publications and other relevant management and work experience, as well as references; (the P11 form can be downloaded from http://europeandcis.undp.org/files/hrforms/P11_SC_SSA.doc)
  • Writing sample

Women are encouraged to apply. Due to the large number of applicants for UNDP positions, UNDP regrets that it is unable to inform unsuccessful candidates about the outcome or status of the recruitment process.

Please visit http://europeandcis.undp.org/home/jobs for more details/full job description

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