Job Opportunity: Research Scientist, Machine Learning Specialist, Office of Innovation
Job Opportunity: Accessibility Technical Adviser, Office of Innovation

Role: Technical Project Coordinator (Unmanned Aerial Systems Specialist)
Job no: 510019
Work type: Consultancy
Location: Kazakhstan
Categories: Emergency Programme, Information Communication Technology, Consultancy, Innovation, Programme Management

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. Defending children’s rights throughout their lives requires a global presence, aiming to produce results and understand their effects. UNICEF believes all children have a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential – to the benefit of a better world.

For every child

In coming years drones will be fully incorporated into commercial airspace. Will we be ready? How can we use these emerging technologies to help children? UNICEF is looking at the future of drones (UAV/Ss, RPAS), for humanitarian response and development. Though they are a new technology, their potential use in imagery, connectivity and transport situations will be integral.

Drones can be helpful, for example, for mapping terrain, providing situational awareness during landslide, avalanche, earthquake or flood response situations, for helping management of humanitarian camps and people displacements, by bringing connectivity to disconnected areas and for transporting important medical supplies and lightweight essential items to remote or to hard-to-reach places, supporting damage assessments and monitoring changes. Drones are currently in an early stage of technological and infrastructural integration, and while aviation authorities are still figuring out national guidelines for governing airspace, we want UNICEF to be actively engaged in these early conversations in order to develop uses that enhance children’s lives.
The Government of Kazakhstan in collaboration with UNICEF are exploring the establishment of a dedicated corridor for the use and testing of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for humanitarian purposes. This testing corridor will be the only space in the world specifically dedicated to disaster risk assessment and response uses for drones in a geographically complex and weather extreme environment.

The Kazakhstan drone testing corridor will be open to industry, universities, other agencies, and individuals who apply and meet the air corridor criteria (which this role will help to refine). As this has never been done before, we’re looking for a dynamic and experienced individual who can adapt as the situation demands and can further the goals of UNICEF.

Innovation by UNICEF globally and in Kazakhstan

Globally, UNICEF identifies promising new technologies that have potential to positively impact on results for children in education, health, disaster response and so on. Through our network of UNICEF Country Offices, government partners, academic institutions, civil society and business partners including in the technology sector, we construct pilots to quickly determine the potential of new technology for children. Use cases for the application of new technology are then developed in collaboration with UNICEF programs and other parts of the UN system across the globe.

In Kazakhstan, UNICEF has established technology programmes in 3 main areas – blockchain, data science, and drones. Each of the programmes has the aim to leverage investment and capacity in the technology and wider business and academic sectors to advance and apply frontier technologies for the benefit of the most vulnerable children worldwide.
Our work is supported by a small venture fund – the UNICEF Innovation Fund – which provides resources to quickly assess, fund and scale companies, teams, and ideas that have been developed in new and emerging markets. The Innovation Fund supports the generation of open source, public goods that address the most pressing challenges facing children. We work very fast, we embrace startup culture, and we work with the worlds of academia, public and private sector around the world who help us find solutions to the biggest problems that face children. While working from the UNICEF Headquarters in New York, we also work closely with the UNICEF Innovation office in San Francisco, and the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre.

How can you make a difference?

UNICEF is exploring the establishment of the first Drone / UAV / UAS testing corridor in Kazakhstan. The Corridor will:

1. Allow companies and partners to test their hardware and software in a live environment for emergency response operations (including disaster risk assessment, mapping/ imagery, connectivity solutions, search and rescue).
2. Complement the government’s efforts to prove the utility of UAVs in disaster risk assessments and response.
3. Provide the space and legal framework to vet capability and generate data on best-use for UNICEF and authorities.
4. Allow the global drone community to exchange experiences and learn from the successes and failures of the tests and simulations to be performed.

We are now seeking a Technical Project Coordinator (UAS) who can help make a detailed assessment to identify a suitable location of the drone corridor as well as help build the partnerships necessary with Government to ensure the necessary permissions are in place and to make the establishment of this corridor a success. This technical coordination liaison position will involve:

• Working with government to obtain necessary permissions to establish the corridor;
• Coordinating across relevant stakeholders including UNICEF offices and government authorities to define and identify and establish the drone corridor site;
• Developing the SOP for the drone corridor including criteria for selection, process, partnerships, data collection and use;
• Engaging industry (both startups and more established players) to encourage use of the corridor – for partners to come to Kazakhstan, test their technology, engage in skills transfer and training of Kazakhstani engineers, and publish open results of tests;
• Designing the operational framework for results shared in the testing corridor.

This field is changing rapidly, and we’re looking for someone with the capacity to build new things in a complex environment, a knowledge of the commercial drone industry, and entrepreneurial or experience in the contexts in which UNICEF works (think: pairing a quickly moving tech environment with the systems speed of development and government – more about that here:

This position will be primarily based in Kazakhstan, Astana, it is a full time and office based job. However, if appropriate, the expected candidate would spend approximately two weeks throughout the deployment period at UNICEF in New York along with the potential for travel to other countries as required, to guide the regulatory framework processes. Modalities for the use of the corridor still have to be determined with the Government of Kazakhstan and this role would be involved in the discussions.
The Drone Corridor Project Technical Coordinator will provide high level technical inputs and project management support for the drone corridor in Kazakhstan, specifically towards the following expected results:

• Coordinating across relevant stakeholders to define and identify and establish the drone corridor site and ongoing partnership
• Developing and implementing the SOP for the drone corridor including site assessment, logistical arrangements, protocols, partnerships, data collection and use
• Engaging industry (both startups and more established players) to encourage use of the corridor – including for use of the corridor, skills transfer and publishing of open results of tests
• Document experiences of establishment and management of corridor to inform other similar future efforts in other countries and publication
• Prepare a Terms of Reference to recruit future national staffing of the drone corridor and facilitate the mentoring and hiring process, as agreed with government

With the Programme Officer (Resilience), liaise between Government stakeholders and relevant authorities to agree on the establishment of a drone corridor for disaster risk assessment and emergency response operations (Partners include but are not limited to the Civil Aviation Authority under the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, Committee on Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction, the Committee on Emergencies and Disaster Risk Management, Radio Frequency Transmission Authority, National Security Committee, and the National Security Service.)

Support CAAV in consultations with General Aviation stakeholders (the Committee on Civil Aviation under the Ministry of transport).

Review experiences from other UNICEF drone corridors and summarize relevant actions for Kazakhstan.

End of month 1
Establish site assessment procedures to ensure facility and site suitability.

Map out key C4D considerations for community engagement and documentation.

End of month 2
Five-page document on assessment and lessons learned drafted. End of month 3
Organize public launch of drone corridor. End of month 4
First draft of corridor SOPs shared with relevant stakeholders.

Launch first call for applications to the corridor.

End of month 5
Media and communications materials.

Standard partnership protocols completed.

Training plan for session facilitated by industry experts for government, local entrepreneurs and universities.

End of month 6
First flights completed.

Five-page document on flight data analysis and lessons learned drafted.

End of month 7
Revised SOP based on corridor experiences.

Second set of tests completed.

End of month 8
Annual plan developed for future testing opportunities.

Protocols and information package on drone corridor finalized.

End of month 9
Ten-page report on and lessons learned from corridor tests drafted and finalized.

South-South exchange with other UNICEF programme countries in Central Asia.

End of month 10
Training plan for session facilitated by industry experts for government, local entrepreneurs and universities. End of month 11
TORs prepared and mentoring process developed to recruit and support future national staffing of drone corridor. End of month 11.5


Payment Plan

• Monthly payment, based on monthly tasks and progress reports, approved upon monthly review with supervisor.
• Consultant is responsible for his own health insurance.
• Consultant is eligible for 50% DSA for the deployment in New York. Consultant is eligible for standard DSA for all other work-related travel.
• Consultants are responsible for assuming costs for obtaining visas and travel insurance.


Day to day supervision will be performed by the Programme Officer (Resilience), at UNICEF Kazakhstan. In addition, significant technical guidance and knowledge exchange will be provided and facilitated by the UNICEF Program Lead (UAV), at the UNICEF Office of Innovation in New York.

To qualify as a/an [champion or advocate] for every child you will have

• University degree
• At least six (6) years of professional experience
• Project management skills including results driven task prioritization and budget monitoring
• Experience working in the private sector or managing corporate partnerships
• Experience implementing and scaling new projects or technologies in developing countries is an asset
• Knowledge or experience of technical regulations or the commercial drone industry
• Experience with running or implementing (failed or successful) startups is an asset
• Proactive and organized, must be able to multitask

Fluency in English and Russian are required. Competence in another UN language is an asset.

Please indicate your ability, availability and monthly rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above. Applications submitted without a monthly rate will not be considered.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

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

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce and encourages qualified candidates from all backgrounds to apply.


*Posting and application portal for this job on can only be accessed during the application period.

Advertised: West Asia Standard Time
Applications close: West Asia Standard Time

Job Opportunity: Research Scientist, Machine Learning Specialist, Office of Innovation
Job Opportunity: Accessibility Technical Adviser, Office of Innovation