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Planning Officer (Design Thinking), NOB, Lilongwe, Malawi # 107660 (OPEN FOR MALAWIAN NATIONALS ONLY)

Apply now Job no: 516280
Work type: Fixed Term Staff
Location: Malawi
Categories: NO-2

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, a future..

UNICEF Malawi Country Programme (2019-2023) is aligned with the Government of Malawi’s Growth and Development Strategy (MDGS III) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). The programme supports the Government of Malawi to meet its commitment to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights in line with international conventions and standards. The country programme is guided by the principles of children’s rights, equity, gender equality, inclusion and resilience, and supports evidence-based, integrative and innovative programming. The vision is that ‘all girls and boys in Malawi, especially the most disadvantaged and deprived, realize their rights’.  The programme focuses on: early childhood (parenting, high-impact social services, early stimulation and learning), middle childhood and adolescence (learning, multi-sectoral services, active citizenship), communities (decentralized services and systems, community ownership, social norms), programme effectiveness (monitoring, evaluation, HACT, Innovation, Social Protection and Social Policy and External Communication.  The programme is based on ‘leaving no child behind’, realizing ‘rights for all children in Malawi’.

Innovation, including out-of-the-box processes, is increasingly vital to achieving sustainable and scalable results for children, as challenges are continuing and growing with speed. In Malawi, the country office has increasingly applied Design Thinking or Human-Centered Design (HCD) in its planning and programming for children. HCD is a proven methodology that engages users and their experience at the onset, applies collaborative thinking with cross-cutting stakeholders, and emphasizes on rapid prototyping and refinement of solutions. Because solutions are continuously tested and iterated prior to and during the scaling of the final product, an organization is able to achieve a more targeted solution, while gaining efficiencies and reducing costs. This position is responsible for mainstreaming the design thinking process, which consequently contributes to programme effectiveness outcomes across sectors.

How can you make a difference?

Under the direct supervision of the Innovation Specialist, the Planning Officer will be accountable for facilitating and building staff capacity to apply the design thinking process in programming across all sectors, and providing project management support to innovation initiatives. S/he will work closely with and interact across all sections in the UNICEF office, and network closely with Government, UN, NGO and private sector partners, in order to help design, implement and iterate identified programme innovations.

Currently, the Malawi country office is operating under a matrix-management model, where individuals will have more than one reporting line. While this particular position is not currently “matrixed”, it is possible that this may change depending on programme needs.

Summary of key functions/accountabilities:


  • Facilitate design thinking sessions internally and externally, and advise staff on the application and integration of human-centered design into planning, project implementation, core UNICEF programming and/or strategy development.
  • Promote the mainstreaming of and build staff capacity on design thinking by conducting trainings/workshops or human-centered design trainings, and developing design facilitation tools.
  • Provide technical guidance in designing and delivering field-based Human-Centered Design Research.


  • Proactively identify cross-cutting, innovative projects that could extensively benefit from a design-thinking methodology.
  • Plan and help implement design thinking and coordinate the implementation of innovative projects from start to finish, including collaborating with various technical experts and stakeholders.
  • Prepare regular project reports for management, donors and partners to keep them informed of programme progress.


  • Identify, capture, synthesize and share lessons learned for knowledge development and to build the capacity of stakeholders.
  • Apply innovative approaches and promote good practices to support the implementation and delivery of concrete and sustainable programme results.
  • Research and report on best and cutting edge practices for development planning of knowledge products and systems.
  • Participate as a resource person in capacity building initiatives to enhance the competencies of clients/ stakeholders.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • A university degree in one of the following fields is required: Behavior Communication, Community Development, Design, Public Policy, Social Policy, Social Sciences or other relevant disciplines.
  • A minimum of two years of progressively responsible professional experience in one or more of the following areas is required: programme management, project management, creative design or communication.
  • Certification in Design Thinking or Human-Centered Design is essential.
  • Strong facilitation, training or capacity building skills.
  • Proven capacity to work with and coordinate collaborative teams across different sections and with different technical skills.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, and the aptitude to handle competing messages and priorities with multiple audiences.
  • Background experience with the UN, especially UNICEF is an asset.
  • Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language or local language of the duty station is considered as an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s core values of Commitment, Diversity and Integrity and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

The functional competencies required for this post are:

  • Leading and Supervising (I)
  • Planning and Organizing (II)
  • Applying Technical Expertise (I)
  • Learning and Researching (II)
  • Formulating Strategies and Concepts (I)

View our competency framework at:


UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.


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

Advertised: South Africa Standard Time
Applications close: South Africa Standard Time

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