Terms of Reference


Operational Context

The World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Centre (JDC) was inaugurated in October 2019. Its mission is to enhance the ability of stakeholders to make timely and evidence-informed decisions that can improve the lives of affected people. The JDC is located in Copenhagen, staffed equally by the World Bank and UNHCR. The JDC’s team consists of 12-16 persons, including 7 senior technical personnel (3 economists, 2 data scientists, 1 statistician, 1 strategy officer).
JDC’s senior technical personnel are allocated activities under the JDC’s work program (covering in total 40 activities in 2020) and are accountable for their delivery. They manage the resources (human, technical and financial) required for the successful completion of assigned activities. They are responsible for ensuring regular and constructive collaboration with relevant teams in UNHCR and the World Bank, which will be implementing or co-implementing some of the assigned activities. Finally, they are responsible for scoping, conceptualizing, and attracting new activities to the JDC’s work program that relate to their specialization.
The Snr Data Scientist will be overseeing and delivering existing activities, and scoping new activities, mostly in three areas.
Applicants will be expected to have prior expertise in all three areas:

• Activities that relate to microdata anonymization, documentation and its responsible dissemination
• Activities that relate to the application of innovative techniques (e.g. machine learning, AI, remote sensing, topic extraction, predictive analytics, statistical modelling) and use of innovative data sources (e.g. big data, geospatial data and imagery, etc.)
• Activities relating to more “traditional” data collection and analysis, including household surveys, censuses, and administrative records.

Given the Snr Data Scientist’s responsibilities for delivery of a broad and varied range of activities, it will be crucial for the selected candidate to have solid project management skills and a process optimization mindset to complement the relevant technical skills.

The Snr Data Scientist will report to the JDC Deputy Head.

Organizational Setting and Work Relationships

The UNHCR Data Transformation Strategy 2020-2025 envisions that by 2025 UNHCR becomes a trusted leader on data and information related to refugees and other persons of concern, thereby enabling actions that protect, include and empower. The Strategy stipulates investing in four complementary priority areas: data management and governance; information systems; capacities and skill development; and culture for evidence-informed decision-making.

The Senior Data Scientist will apply innovative methods (e.g. machine learning / AI, data mining, remote sensing, topic extraction, predictive analytics, etc.) and explore the use of innovative data sources (e.g. big data, geospatial data and imagery, etc.) to improve the production, analysis and dissemination of data in global forced displacement and statelessness situations. In these areas, the incumbent will oversee and implement research and analytics, recommend and facilitate enhancements to data systems and processes, provide training and capacity building, and represent the organization at the technical level in relevant fora. The Senior Data Scientist will thereby play a crucial role in helping UNHCR harness the power and potential of these innovative techniques and data sources, achieve the vision of the Data Transformation Strategy, and further enhance its ability to save lives, protect rights and build a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. The Senior Data Scientist reports to a senior staff member in the Division/Bureau or to the Chief Statistician in the Global Data Service. The incumbent will work closely with relevant colleagues in delivering the expected outcomes for the concerned entity. The incumbent will also liaise with external partners and stakeholders as/when required. S/he may directly supervise staff at the Professional and General Service category.

All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR¿s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.


• Apply data science techniques to global forced displacement and statelessness situations, to improve both understanding of population behaviour, needs, and vulnerabilities as well as capacity to monitor and evaluate the impact of UNHCR policies and programmes.
• Prepare concept papers, background analyses, and briefings to build support for the use of data analytics and data science techniques throughout UNHCR, in collaboration with relevant Services and Divisions.
• Provide consultation and guidance to non-technical audiences and develop and implement guidance on integrating advanced data and analysis in routine decision-making processes.
• Facilitate discussion among key stakeholders to articulate a vision and plan for integrating data science methods and techniques into planning, delivering, and assessing programmes.
• Evaluate models and provide recommendations with regard to their design, outcome implementation and validation steps.
• Promote a knowledge sharing and learning culture. Conduct trainings to improve technical and research skills of headquarters and field staff in the area of data science and/or advanced statistical analysis, in collaboration with the Global Learning and Development Centre.
• Contribute to, and/or lead the research on the use of alternative data sources to produce data on global forced displacement and statelessness situations. Think strategically about uses of data and how data use interacts with data design.
• Facilitate open access to anonymized forced displacement data while addressing protection and privacy concerns over microdata managed by UNHCR.
• Advance analytical techniques and data quality assurance approaches in UNHCR, bringing them in line with international statistical standards and analytical best practices.
• Apply predictive analytics techniques for the production of population statistics.
• Visualize and report data findings creatively in a variety of formats;
• Support the development and enhancement of UNHCR data systems interoperability and systematic adoption by providing advice on data science techniques.
• Support the dialogue across UNHCR in collaboration with the appropriate colleagues for improvement of inter-operability and responsible access to corporate systems.
• Provide capacity development support across UNHCR related to strengthening data collection and analysis procedures and techniques.
• Contribute to, and/or lead the delivery of high-profile analytical products, in consultation with the relevant operational teams, including field operations.
• Engage in international fora and working groups providing strategic vision and direction on the use of new data sources and technologies. Develop partnerships with relevant actors in the area of data science for development.
• Represent UNHCR in technical meetings and other events as required i.e.: workshops, conferences, etc.
• Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications

Years of Experience / Degree Level: For P4/NOD – 9 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 8 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 7 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree.

Field(s) of Education
Mathematics Statistics Economics Computer Science Public Policy Demography Engineering Quantitative Social Sciences or other relevant fields with a focus on data science.
(Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Certificates and/or Licenses
UNHCR ODM Module 7 Registration
HCR Operational Data Management Learning Programme
Information Management
(Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Relevant Job Experience


Strong quantitative background in statistics, economics, mathematical or computer science modelling or similar; experience in data collection, management, cleaning, processing, and applied analysis using statistical software or computer/programming languages such as Python, Stata, SAS, R, SPSS, MATLAB ,SQL etc. Strategic sense and demonstrated experience in ensuring the operational relevance of analytical and/or research work. Solid understanding of forced displacement-related issues. Drive, proven sense of initiative, results orientation, flexibility, leadership qualities, as well as effective teamwork skills. Experience working with Big Data and/or Statistical Learning methods. Experience writing technical reports. Demonstrated experience presenting work to both technical and non-technical audiences. Willingness to experiment in data innovation and big data and push the boundaries in applying technical skills for development and humanitarian action. Ability to work flexibly, creatively and to multitask as the need arises. A high degree of self-motivation, positive attitude and drive.

Experience in process re-engineering (process redesign, process transformation, or change management). Experience with data sharing, data anonymization, statistical disclosure control, data management, and data analysis. Experience with data visualization tools such as D3.js, Power BI and Tableau. Experience with UNHCR¿s corporate applications and operational data. Demonstrated understanding of civil registration and other national population registration systems. Knowledge of UNHCR and interagency policies, standards, programmes and operations.

Functional Skills
PR-Experience in Forced Displacement situations
DM-Data collection methodologies
MS-Data Collection and Analysis
DM-Data Interoperability
DM-Data science methodologies
DM-Qualitative data analysis
DM-Quantitative data analysis
IT-Computer Literacy
DM-Data Management
DM-Population census and econometrics
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Language Requirements
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.

How to apply

Interested candidates are requested to apply here or on the UNHCR career page at www.unhcr.org/careers by clicking on “Vacancies” and entering job ID 23361.

Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. Closing date 28 December 2020 (midnight Geneva time).