Re-opened to attract more candidates – Early Childhood Development Specialist, NOC, Fixed-Term, #127736, Lilongwe, Malawi (Open to Malawian nationals only)

Job no: 569615
Position type: Fixed Term Appointment
Location: Malawi
Division/Equivalent: Nairobi Regn’l(ESARO)
School/Unit: Malawi
Department/Office: Lilongwe, Malawi
Categories: Early Childhood Development

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, every right

The UNICEF Malawi Country Programme (2024-2028) works through a One-UN approach based on the new United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSCDF) Strategic Priorities. 2024-2028).  All four strategic priorities of the UNSCDF2024-2028 hold significance to UNICEF and the priorities identified for children: i) Economic Development, ii) Governance, iii) Human Capital Development, and iv) Climate Change. UNICEF co-leads the further elaboration and results in developing the Human Capital Development strategic priority. The intent of the UNICEF CPD 2024-2028 is fully aligned with these priorities, which are also directly linked to the pillars of Malawi Vision 2063, and the Malawi Implementation Plan (MIP, 2030). To this extent, UNICEF’s strategy for the CPD includes Child Survival and Development (Health, Nutrition and WASH), Education, Learning and Child Protection, Social Policy (Social Protection and Public Finance for Children), Gender Equality, Inclusion and Innovation within a robust evidence-informed environment. These are focus areas under the Human Capital Development Enabler of the MIP (2030). The Country Programme envisages the progressive fulfilment of the rights to survival, development, education, protection and participation of all children, including adolescents, especially the most vulnerable and those at risk of being left behind, in an inclusive, resilient and protective environment. Besides Malawi’s 2063 vision and 2021–2030 implementation plan (MIP), the African Union’s Agenda 2063; UNICEF’s Strategic Plan, Gender Action Plan III, Innovation Strategy; and the SDGs. The country programme includes child survival and development, learning, skills development and protection, and social policy. All components are supported by the programme and operational effectiveness and efficiency imperatives. Risk-informed programming across the humanitarian and development nexus in all three outcome areas will strengthen disaster preparedness, enhance climate adaptation/mitigation and response, and increase the resilience capacity of institutions, communities and young people. Programming aligns with UNICEF Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Transformative Agenda.

UNICEF Malawi’s Country Programme strategy for Early Childhood Development (ECD) is targeted at early childhood, from birth to five years, with a comprehensive focus on survival, growth, development, protection, and early learning. Special emphasis is placed on children aged 0-3 years, recognizing this period as crucial for brain development. The interventions during these years are thus vital, as they have a direct and lasting effect on children’s learning and thinking skills, as well as their social, language, emotional, and resilience capabilities. UNICEF Malawi has subsequently embraced a holistic and cross-sectoral approach to enhance the overall impact on ECD, including advocating for policy reforms and increased public funding for integrated ECD interventions.

The coordination of the ECD Nurturing Care Framework will continue to be housed within the Nutrition section. This decision leverages the Nutrition section’s unique position to engage with multisectoral ministries, work closely with communities, and build on the progress achieved during the previous country programme. This arrangement underscores the comparative advantage UNICEF holds in leading major development sectors, highlighting ECD as a critical priority.

As our Early Childhood Development (ECD) Specialist, your strong leadership skills, strategic thinking, and extensive experience with the ECD Nurturing Care Framework will play a crucial role in the success of Child Survival and Development programme. It is your responsibility to coordinate and ensure that within UNICEF programmes, all children receive nurturing care through access to optimal health, nutrition, early learning, and child protection services as outlined in ECD Nurturing Care Framework. Additionally, your efforts to promote positive parenting and responsive caregiving are essential for children to thrive and reach their full potential. Your hands-on experience at the decentralized level will provide valuable practical insights and a grounded approach to effectively implementing our programme objectives.

How can you make a difference?

As the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Specialist in the Nutrition section and particularly the Child Survival and Development team, your role will involve comprehensive coordination of all aspects of the ECD Nurturing Care Framework. This includes ensuring good health, adequate nutrition, opportunities for early learning, safety, security, and responsive caregiving. As the team lead for the ECD Task Team, you will oversee the integration and coordination of holistic early childhood development within the Malawi Country Office.

Reporting to the Chief of Nutrition, you will lead the UNICEF Malawi Country Office’s ECD programme execution and coordination. Collaboration with all ECD stakeholders will be crucial in supporting the Government of Malawi in advancing its ECD agenda, which aims to enable children to survive, thrive, and reach their full potential. Your role will be critical in ensuring equitable access to high-quality primary health care, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, ECD, and climate-resilient WASH services for vulnerable groups. Additionally, you will contribute to promoting positive health-seeking, parenting, and hygiene practices.

This position therefore offers a unique opportunity for a qualified, driven, and dedicated individual to make a substantial impact on the lives of children and mothers, particularly those in remote and hard-to-reach areas, including humanitarian settings.By excelling in this role, you will contribute to achieving transformative results for children across various key areas of responsibility, but not limited to:

  1. Assist in the development and planning of ECD programmes and projects.
  2. Manage, monitor, and deliver results of the ECD Programmes.
  3. Provide technical and operational support for programme implementation.
  4. Establish networks and build partnerships to enhance the reach and impact of ECD programmes.
  5. Drive innovation within ECD programmes, manage knowledge effectively, and enhance capacity-building initiatives to improve programme outcomes.

You are encouraged to download the detailed job description Download File MLW24005 – GJP – ECD Specialist Level 3 Lilongwe Malawi.docin order to view the full role and its requirements.

To qualify as a champion for every child you will have…


  • An advanced university degree in one of the following fields is required: education, public health, nutrition, psychology, sociology, human development, child development, family studies or another relevant technical field.
  • A first University Degree in a relevant field combined with 2 additional years of professional experience may be accepted in lieu of an advanced university degree.


  • A minimum of five years of relevant professional work experience is required in social development planning and management in early childhood development related areas is required.
  • Experience in implementation of ECD Nurturing Care Framework is required.
  • Experience working closely with Government is considered as an asset.
  • Relevant experience in a UN system agency or organization is considered as an asset.
  • Experience working in a developing country is considered as a strong asset.
  • Background and/or familiarity with emergency is considered as an asset.

Technical knowledge and skills:

  • Demonstrated skills to coordinate integrate ECD programme within multi stakeholder environment is required.
  • Strong knowledge of ECD programmes integrated within Nutrition, Health, Education, WASH and Child Protection is an asset.
  • Strong knowledge of parenting and early stimulation programmes is desired.


  • Fluency in English and Chichewa, both strong verbal and written skills, are essential.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s Core Values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust and Accountability and Sustainability (CRITAS) underpin everything we do and how we do it. Get acquainted with Our Values Charter: https://uni.cf/UNICEFValues

UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

(1) Builds and maintains partnerships (2) Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness (3) Drive to achieve results for impact (4) Innovates and embraces change (5) Manages ambiguity and complexity (6) Thinks and acts strategically (7) Works collaboratively with others.

During the recruitment process, we test candidates following the competency framework. Familiarize yourself with our competency framework and its different levels: competency framework here.

UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic.

We offer a wide range of benefits to our staff, including paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. UNICEF strongly encourages the use of flexible working arrangements.

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 is committed to promote the protection and safeguarding of all children. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles. 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.


The position is not considered an elevated risk role. However, UNICEF reserves the right to conduct further vetting/assessment within the scope of child safeguarding as appropriate.

UNICEF’s active commitment towards diversity and inclusion is critical to deliver the best results for children. For this position, eligible and suitable female candidates and suitable persons living with disability are encouraged to apply.

UNICEF appointments are subject to medical clearance.  Appointments may also be subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID).

Government employees that are considered for employment with UNICEF are normally required to resign from their government before taking up an assignment with UNICEF.

UNICEF reserves the right to withdraw an offer of appointment, without compensation, if medical clearance is not obtained, or necessary inoculation requirements are not met, within a reasonable period for any reason.

UNICEF only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU) / United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed at http://www.whed.net/.

The vacancy announcement is open to internal UNICEF staff holding permanent, continuing and fixed term appointments and suitably qualified and experienced external candidates.

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

To effectively contribute to the delivery of results for the children of Malawi, the UNICEF Malawi Country Office operates within a dynamic and results-oriented setting. We foster an environment characterized by creativity, innovation, collaboration, teamwork, a commitment to professional growth, and a safe workspace. Consequently, we are actively searching for individuals who are driven to enact tangible change and dedicated to serving Malawi’s children with resourcefulness, resilience, agility, and a commitment to professional excellence.

Advertised: Feb 13 2024 South Africa Standard Time
Application close: May 01 2024 South Africa Standard Time