08 June 2011

Cool Water Job: Upper Tigris Waterkeeper

In a tradition that I shall borrow from friend and colleague Dr. Carin Bondar and her "Cool Biology Jobs" postings, I found this listing for a "Cool Water Job" and wanted to pass it along to everyone. It's also relevant to point out here a long-ago post of my own about ethnic Kurdistan in northern Iraq. It's an area of fascination for me, watching how the regional balances of power evolves and how water plays such a vital role there. Alas, I am not a Kurdish expatriate with the language to match, or I'd apply for this myself! Are you an expat and up-to-date on your Kurdish and Arabic language skills? Good luck!



From Nature Iraq via Studio Galli Ingegneria (SGI) and Devex, with links added where appropriate. Click for Devex job listing and to apply for this position.

The Upper Tigris Waterkeeper (UTW) is a manager position within Nature Iraq, an Iraqi non-profit organization focused on environmental conservation and restoration in Iraq. Accountable to the Conservation Director, the UTW is responsible for all aspects of the Waterkeeper Program. Please note that the Waterkeeper Project is a new project being initiated by Nature Iraq in 2011 and this is the first hire for the project.

Because of the changing circumstances within Iraq, the role of the Waterkeeper will evolve over time but the primary work of the Waterkeeper is to act as an advocate and educator for the rivers of the Upper Tigris Basin in Iraq and the communities that rely upon them. The focus will be on improving the quality and function of these water resources within Iraq thus a strong voice is needed to inform local communities about what is happening and what they can do to influence decisions on water resource use and allocations that they have previously never had a voice in.

The UTW will work to educate the public and raising awareness throughout the basins about local, regional and international river issues that affect the people and environments of Iraq. The UTW is effectively a spokesperson for the Upper Tigris Basin and the communities that rely upon these waters and he or she will also provide an avenue for local consultation so that feedback on government strategic planning for water resource use and allocations can create a two-way street of communication with decision-makers. This will provide a new model for public engagement as in the past decision-making on such activities was squarely in the hands of the Iraqi government with the public being provided little information and having almost no control over local and regional water resource management decisions.

Thus, the Waterkeeper will be tasked with responding to locals as a consultant and advocate on community concerns regarding overall water resource uses and water quality. Additional roles, which will not be started initially but are eventually envisioned for the Waterkeeper in the future include:
  • Comprehensive patrolling of the rivers for pollution problems (though an initial survey is envisioned and occasional limited patrolling may be conducted);
  • Creating a hotline by which locals can report specific issues that the Waterkeeper is charged with investigating (though a webpage within the Nature Iraq website and contact phone will be set up with the start of the project), and
  • Taking polluters to court and litigating for clean up.
An initial boat/land survey is envisioned and occasional limited patrolling may be conducted in the initial phase of the work to document known areas of concern and conduct educational and/or awareness raising activities in specific communities, but comprehensive surveys of the river are likely several years away due to security concerns. In addition, creating a hotline for locals to report specific basin-related pollution issues or other concerns is a future goal of the Waterkeeper. But the UTW will likely, from the start, be contacted to advise local communities about problems in the basin and will endeavour to provide what support he or she can.

There is greater ease of movement and security in the Kurdish north of the country (Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Dohuk Governorates) as this area is effectively controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government. For the initial effort, the UTW will focus the work on the Little Zab and possibly the upper Diyala Basins (in Iraq these are primarily located within Sulaymaniyah governorate and are two major contributors to the Tigris River). From this base, the Waterkeeper Program can expand to a network that covers more of the Upper Tigris basin as well start new branches to cover the lower basin and the Euphrates River over time and as security improves.

Qualifications Requirements:
  • Kurdish Expatriate or Kurdish Iraqi National (required);
  • Native Kurdish (Sorani dialect is preferred) and functional to fluent in English and Arabic;
  • Ability to work outside, around or on the river (including driving and boat handling skills);
  • Familiar with cities, towns and villages within the Upper Tigris basin (Little Zab, Diyala, Big Zab, and/or Khabour Rivers, Kurdistan-Iraq region);
  • Strong commitment to community and grassroots awareness, education and advocacy, and
  • Combination of training and work experience matched with a BSc degree or higher in a field relevant to the work related to water quality, water resource management, environmental law, community development, planning, or other related skills.
Experience and Skills Desired:
  • 3+ years of experience demonstrating outstanding leadership and management capacity. 
  • 2+ years of financial responsibility and budgeting for small or medium projects.
  • 2+ years of field experience.
  • Strong knowledge of environmental and/or development issues in the region is desired.
Interested applicants are kindly requested to send their application in English language to Nature Iraq at info@natureiraq.org. Please specify in the title of your application the job opportunity you are applying for, e.g. "Upper Tigris Waterkeeper-Nature Iraq."

Click for Devex job listing and to apply for this position.

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