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Head of Policy and Advocacy

Date Posted: Jun 11, 2021

Job Description

Position: Head of Policy and Advocacy- Malawi


Place of work:

Lilongwe, with regular travel to the field and outside Malawi

Contract type:

Fixed term, 3 years, renewable

Reports to:

Country Director

Line Manage:

Policy and Sector Engagement Coordinator, Advocacy and Campaigns Coordinator, Advocacy Communications Officer



Team purpose


WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. Our mission is to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities.


The policy and advocacy team in WaterAid Malawi brings together thought leadership, political judgement, compelling arguments, and collaboration with other to influence policy and practice change by government and other key organisations, in order to secure and protect the rights of poor people to safe, affordable water, sanitation and hygiene services. 

Job purpose


The Head of Policy and Advocacy is responsible for providing influencing leadership in Malawi on WaterAid’s ambition to achieve transformational change at local, regional and national level to ensure everyone everywhere has access to water, sanitation and hygiene.  This post draws on WaterAid’s global advocacy priorities and national analysis to develop and deliver a high-quality and politically smart research and policy agenda, advocacy strategy and communications approach, all whilst working with others to achieve change.

The Head of Policy and Advocacy is a member of the Senior Management Team (SMT) of WaterAid Malawi and by extension part of the Southern Africa Regional Management Team (RMT).

Specific Responsibilities:

Strategic Leadership

  • Lead and anchor the contextual analysis (poverty, social, economic, political) for the overall country strategy development process
  • Lead on developing and overseeing delivery of a country advocacy strategy and annual plan, providing strong advocacy vision, political judgement and ambition
  • Using expert knowledge in WASH or policy change processes, and savvy campaigns approaches, lead the development of ambitious and strategic approaches to drive forward WaterAid Malawi advocacy agenda to generate significant step-change in high-level political prioritisation of WASH
  • Ensure the Advocacy Strategy and Annual Plan is grounded in WaterAid’s priority areas of work and national context analysis to maximize the prospects of successful policy change.
  • Ensure that advocacy components are integrated in overall country programme strategies and demonstrate clear links with the field priorities to enhance overall influencing work.
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of the wider social, political and economic contexts as well as sector-specific issues and advocacy best practice to ensure that WaterAid stays at the forefront of national policy debates and effectively navigates political dynamics.
  • Develop and maintain productive working relationships with key actors in national policy debates, including government officials, development partners, representatives of civil society and thought leaders.
  • Proactively seeking and optimising opportunities to increase WaterAid Malawi’s image, visibility and profile as a leader in the international NGO and WASH sector.


Ensure quality delivery

  • Oversee a high-quality policy and research agenda that shapes and supports WaterAid Malawi’s advocacy agenda and is well utilised to build thought leadership in Malawi on the WASH agenda. Maintain up to date knowledge and analysis of key policy processes and of the policy and practices of influencing targets, using this analysis to inform WaterAid’s influencing approaches
  • Oversee a politically smart advocacy strategy that harnesses formal and informal power to build support for WaterAid Malawi’s advocacy agenda.
  • Oversee the development and delivery of WaterAid Malawi’s advocacy communications approach, ensuring there are compelling arguments that will have cut through with the decision-makers.
  • Oversee WaterAid Malawi’s work to strengthen civil society’s policy engagement with WASH and rights-based organisations, working closely with identified CSO networks to build capacity to effectively engage with national policy making processes.
  • Identify windows of influence and act to ensure WaterAid Malawi’s advocacy messages and recommendations are heard by decision-makers.
  • Facilitate key working relationships within the country team to ensure the country programme is generating evidence and leveraging it through its influencing. Work in close collaboration with programmes and programme support colleagues to develop policy, research and practice that anchors the CPs advocacy and is strongly aligned to Wateraid’s influencing strategy



  • Set, manage and monitor expenditure budget for strategic and annual plans in policy and advocacy, adheringto financial guidelines, ensuring value for money and acting as appropriate within delegated authorit This includes funding for civil society work.
  • Secure funding to deliver an ambitious advocacy agenda through supporting the scoping of donors at local, regional and global level, to identify fundraising opportunities and work with others and producing specific documents for fundraising.
  • Lead a monitoring, evaluation and learning process for advocacy plans and strategies, including supporting the CP to learn from and contribute to organizational learning to improve the effectiveness of the CP’s advocacy
  • Support the SMT to deliver its ambitions by contributing to critical decisions and being accountable for its overall performance

Team and People leadership

  • Lead the recruitment of skilled staff and effectively manage the team to deliver high performance.
  • Coach, guide, and mentor staff within the team so that they are effective as leaders and can maximise their contribution to the team and organisation.
  • Create and maintain a positive and supportive environment conducive for the high performance of the team.


Networking and Representation

  • Act as WaterAid Malawi spokesperson in the media and on advocacy issues where the CD delegates/as appropriate and take part in relevant country and international policy/advocacy fora as guided by key stakeholders.
  • Represent WaterAid Malawi on key national sector and broader national development platforms to advocate for policy change to realize universal access to WASH.
  • Build and maintain partnerships with relevant national civil society allies and networks in order to share information and collaborate over advocacy opportunities and campaigns, and ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene is at the forefront of the agenda of key decision mak
  • Build and maintain relationships with key advocacy targets and WASH technical and political leadership to ensure WaterAid remains informed of key strategic changes in sector to support advocacy efforts

Contribute to regional and international agenda

  • Work with regional advocacy manager and members of the regional team to ensure linkage to regional and global policy agendas as well as bringing out impact at national level to contribute to regional, pan-African and global levels
  • Remain abreast of national and international debates on sector policy, finance and performance monitoring and feed lessons from Malawi into these debates directly and through WaterAid members and the regional team.




  • University degree on social sciences, economic or development studies
  • Master’s degree is preferable

Work experience

  • Sound experience (10 years) in policy, advocacy and/or communications work is required
  • 3 years experience in a leadership position in a development field
  • INGO working experience is preferable


  • Fluent in local languages and excellent working English


  •  Sociable, responsive, committed, driven

Adherence to:

  • Rights-based approach
  • Safeguarding
  • Equity and Inclusion

Essential criteria

  • Excellent sense of strategy, analysis and political judgement, with a track record of achieving progress in advocacy agendas and realising the rights of marginalised groups of people
  • Strong written and verbal communicator who can make compelling arguments to build support for an advocacy vision
  • Experience of leading, managing and motivating others and driving change
  • Organisation, problem solving and budget management skills
  • At least 5 years’ experience leading teams of experienced professionals and effectively managing their performance.
  • Excellent relationship management skills, able to build and maintain trusting relationships, negotiate, influence and resolve conflicts with multi-level stakeholders including donor representatives, government officials and community level actors.
  • Demonstrable experience in the development of and management of complex multi-donor funded project budgets and in supporting partner staff to manage budgets
  • Knowledge of development policies, especially in the WASH sector and its challenges and blockages, and how they can be addressed
  • Initiative, able to prioritise effectively and work under pressure.
  • Commitment to WaterAid’s values and a working style that reflects these.

Desirable criteria

  • Existing links and network within the WASH sector
  • Track record of gender sensitive advocacy approaches

How to apply

Interested applicants should send their current CV with names of their three most recent referees and a motivation letter:

Email: by 26th June 2021.

WaterAid is committed to ensuring that wherever we work in the world there is no tolerance for the abuse of power, privilege or trust. WaterAid reinforces a culture of zero tolerance towards any form of inappropriate behaviour, abuse, harassment, or exploitation of any kind. The safeguarding of our beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and anyone working on our behalf, is our top priority, and we take our responsibilities extremely seriously. All staff and volunteers are required to share in this commitment through our Global Code of Conduct.

Skills Required

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