Data Engineer

Background Information – Job-specific

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has a Centre for Humanitarian Data in The Hague, the Netherlands which is focused on increasing the use and impact of data in the humanitarian sector. The vision is to create a future where all people involved in a humanitarian emergency have access to the data they need, when and how they need it, to make responsible and informed decisions. Our support is provided to OCHA staff and partners, with a priority focus on locations with humanitarian operations.

As part of OCHA’s Information Management Branch, the Centre’s role is to enable the organization to deliver on its ambition to be more data-driven and analytical and to ensure a responsible approach to technology and data management. The Centre has four workstreams: data services (managing the Humanitarian Data Exchange platform), data responsibility, data science, and learning and practice.

The data science workstream is focused on conducting advanced analysis and creating insight to help humanitarians anticipate and respond to needs arising from shocks. This work includes assessing available models and forecasts, designing trigger mechanisms for use in anticipatory action frameworks, and providing guidance to help humanitarians make sense of climate science and technical language.

The Centre’s data science team has supported OCHA’s anticipatory action frameworks in a dozen countries, enabling humanitarian organisations to get ahead of shocks and mitigate their impact. After a successful pilot phase, OCHA is now looking at the modalities for scaling and mainstreaming anticipatory action. In the coming years, the Centre will provide technical support to ongoing pilots and new countries as they are identified, while also helping to mainstream the expertise needed within OCHA offices and with local partners.

The Centre is seeking to recruit a Data Engineer who has the skills and experience to develop data pipelines, software libraries, and the underlying infrastructure to support the data science team. We are looking for a candidate who is familiar with the analytical methods used in the humanitarian sector, and can think strategically about how to use data to create value for crisis response. The right candidate has the skills and abilities to provide the technical support to the broader team and contribute to shaping the development of the technical stack used by the Centre. They should also be self-motivated and able to thrive in an international, multidisciplinary team.

The Data Engineer will report to the Data Science Team Lead under the overall direction of the Lead for the Centre for Humanitarian Data. The incumbent will be expected to work closely with the rest of the Centre team, in particular the HDX team.

Functional Responsibilities

The incumbent will be responsible for the following duties but not limited to:

  1. Understanding the data workflow of the data science team and developing data pipelines to access datasets typically used.
  2. Understanding, leveraging and contributing to the existing data pipeline architecture use by the HDX team.
  3. Designing new analytical tools and libraries to be used for humanitarian action.
  4. Maintaining existing software packages and ensuring consistency in the analytical tools used by the Centre.
  5. Assessing the tech stack needs of the data science team, proposing solutions, and implementing them.
  6. Work with the other teams at the Centre to ensure coherence in the adoption of technology across workstreams.

Education/Experience/Language requirements

a. Education

  • An advanced university degree in mathematics, physics, engineering, computer science, statistics, economics or a related field is required.
  • A Bachelor’s degree with an additional two years of experience may be accepted in lieu of an advanced university degree.

b. Work Experience


  • Five years of programming experience in areas like data transformation, pipelines, processing and/or analytics is required.
  • Five years of programming experience in Python/R and their relevant libraries (e.g. Pandas, dplyr) is required.

Desirable: (the following experience is optional; candidates who do not have it are welcome to apply):

  • Exceptional communication skills, in order to explain your work to non-technical colleagues who may not be familiar with data engineering.
  • An understanding of developer tools such as Git.
  • Experience in understanding partner needs and requirements.
  • Skills in data visualisation and geospatial analytics and relevant libraries and standards (e.g. rasterio, proj4).
  • Knowledge or experience in the humanitarian or development sectors.
  • Experience with climate data and climate modelling.

c. Language

  • Fluency in English (read, write, speak) is required.
  • Knowledge of any of the other UN official languages is an advantage.

This is not a position in UNOPS. UNOPS is solely providing operational support to its partner UNOCHA for this recruitment process. The selected candidate will be a personnel member of UNOCHA under its full responsibility and salaries and benefits will be decided by UNOCHA.

How to apply

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