I. Overview

Through USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA), the United States sponsors qualified U.S. citizens for employment in the United Nations (UN) World Food Program (WFP) Junior Professional Officer (JPO) Program.

These fully funded JPO positions strengthen the humanitarian coordination capacity of WFP. They further encourage U.S. citizens to become active members of the international community. After completing their JPO assignments, a number of JPOs successfully compete for positions at WFP and in other international and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

II. General Information

Title: Regional Emergency Preparedness and Response Officer

Organization/Office: WFP/Panama Regional Bureau

Duty Station: Panama City, Panama

Date Required: As soon as possible

Duration: Two years

III. Duties, Responsibilities, and Output Expectations

Duties and Responsibilities:

Under the direct supervision of the Head of the Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) and cash-based transfers (CBT) unit, and working closely with the rest of the program team in the Regional Bureau for Panama in particular the Research Analysis and Mapping (RAM) unit, the JPO will have the following responsibilities:

  • Support the provision of strategic and technical support (in coordination with other functions) to Country Offices about preparedness, early warning analysis, triggered early action, and effective emergency response.
  • Support Country Offices to prepare and review program related documents to ensure minimum preparedness is adequately integrated into these and proactively monitor when a potential change in context could trigger the need for changes at this level.
  • Support the convening and organization of internal, regional level cross-functional coordination mechanisms (including managing the secretariat of the Regional Emergency Task Force).
  • Support the Regional Bureau’s engagement efforts with regional political and economic organizations on regional emergency management and early warning.
  • Support the Regional Bureau in its provision of normative guidance and technical support to Country Offices (and governments where there is no Country Office presence) on capacity strengthening of National and Regional Disaster Management Agencies, supporting regional partnerships and training/simulations, and partnering for south-south and triangular cooperation.
  • Participate in and represent the emergency preparedness and response function in regional thematic coordination working groups (e.g., regional clusters and working groups).
  • Develop and maintain a technical peer network across regional actors (including on early warning analysis, climate tracking, geographic information system (GIS)/innovations, capacity strengthening).
  • Support information and knowledge sharing and learning on EPR related initiatives in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region through the documentation and capturing of best practices and the sharing of corporate tools, systems, and resources with Country Offices in the region.
  • Support RAM unit in tracking early warning indicators and emerging risks in LAC region, specifically of slow and sudden onset risks; disseminating daily, punctual/weekly, monthly, and quarterly risk updates for the region.
  • Monitoring risks in countries without WFP operations in a proactive manner, and assisting the Regional Bureau in identifying and implementing emergency preparedness, risk analysis, and response options in these oversight countries.
  • Support the use and implementation of emergency preparedness and response capacity related corporate EPR monitoring tools to measure WFP's contribution to national efforts at this level.

Expected Outputs:

  • Research and analysis on early warning and operational issues that support management in decision making;
  • Contributions towards the development of EPR related projects, plans, and processes, ensuring alignment with wider program policies and guidance;
  • Contributions to the preparation of EPR related lessons learned documents and reports that enable informed decision making and consistency of information presented to stakeholders;
  • Contributions to the development of EPR related regional strategies and partnerships identified and developed.

IV. Qualifications and Experience


Advanced university degree or first level university degree in International Affairs, Human Rights, Social Sciences, or other fields relevant to international development assistance.

Work Experience:

Two years of relevant working experience in humanitarian and/or development related work with an international organization.


Fluency in English; at least intermediate knowledge of Spanish is required.

Other Skills:

  • Proficiency in Windows Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook);
  • Behavioral competencies such as action management, client orientation, cognitive capacity, innovation, partnering, and teamwork.

Other Considerations:

To perform the wide range of tasks and excel in this position, the ideal candidate would also possess:

  • Exposure to emergencies in the international arena, either by direct work for an international institution/organization, or working for a national entity.
  • WFP’s international professionals are required to serve in different locations around the world during the course of their career (including in hardship duty stations). Willingness to be mobile would maximize opportunities for long-term retention in the organization.

Workforce Diversity:

The UN believes that an inclusive culture attracts the best talent and encourages all qualified applicants, regardless of gender, disability, sexual orientation, cultural, or religious backgrounds, to apply.

V. Learning Elements

The JPO will be working under the close support and guidance of a more experienced professional staff member and receiving guidance and regular feedback on work performed. The JPO will also be involved in program and policy activities and analytical work related to the areas of work mentioned above, allowing for a significant amount of on the job training.

A personal capacity building program will be established with the JPO at the beginning of his/her assignment, which will include the fulfillment of existing WFP emergency related and other specialized online trainings (on needs assessments, food security, nutrition, etc.), participation in thematic workshops, as well as assignments to Country Offices to facilitate on the job learning experiences.

At the end of the two-year assignment, the JPO should have obtained:

  • Good general understanding of WFP’s overall operations and activities in LAC.
  • Good knowledge of the program lifecycle, emergency preparedness, response related processes, and food assistance under its different transfer modalities.
  • Broad knowledge of certain specialized areas (i.e., Nutrition, RAM, etc.).
  • The ability to identify key variables and contextual factors that affect food assistance programs throughout their lifecycle.
  • Developed capacity to provide high quality inputs into the design, development, implementation, and realignment of high-quality emergency preparedness and response related programs.
  • Developed ability to analyze and consolidate quantitative and qualitative information from different sources and interpret basic data in the context of various WFP specialized fields.

VI. Background Information

About WFP

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

Context and Background

Disasters are a leading cause of hunger, affecting all aspects of food security; therefore, reducing risk and building resilience are prerequisites to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 2, to create a world with Zero Hunger. LAC is home to nine of the world’s top-20 countries most vulnerable to natural disasters. Over the past five years, LAC countries have been affected by a variety of disasters and crisis, including hurricanes (Haiti 2016 and other Caribbean countries since), recurrent droughts (e.g., the dry corridor that crosses El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala), the Venezuelan migratory and refugee crisis (that affect Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru) and socio-political crisis, (i.e., in Haiti, Venezuela, and Nicaragua).

With the exception of Haiti, the region is characterized by middle income countries, with governments that are strengthening their disaster management systems as well as social protection systems. However, these countries often require complementary assistance and/or technical assistance in order to ensure that these systems work together more effectively and become increasingly shock responsive. The region is also characterized by the presence of a number of vulnerable small island countries, where WFP does not have a direct operational presence, but where WFP is often called upon to support emergency preparedness and response related initiatives.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has particularly affected the LAC region, has not only exacerbated these pre-existing socio-economic inequalities, hampering access to food and nutrition and affecting the basic livelihoods of millions in the the region, but is also outpacing the capacity of the disaster management and social protection systems of many countries in this region, which are increasingly calling upon WFP Country Offices to complement their emergency response efforts.

The WFP Regional Bureau in Panama is responsible not only for positioning WFP strategically in this region but also for the provision of support to its 12 Country Offices, at the operational level in view of facilitating the design and implementation of programs, strategies, and processes that strengthen the emergency response and preparedness capacities of their host countries.

This vacancy is archived.

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