Vacancy: Materials and Construction Specialist

WaterSHED is a local non-governmental organization (NGO) registered in Cambodia. WaterSHED engages local enterprises and government in the development of sustainable market-based approaches that empower households to be active and informed consumers of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) products and services. Direct assistance provided by WaterSHED encompasses areas of technical support such as business trainings and marketing support, research and design of new products and water supply schemes, and product quality assurance. Furthermore, WaterSHED also provides research and assistance related to social, behavioral, business, and financial aspects of implementation activities. WaterSHED now seeks a talented Cambodian professional to undertake the following position:

Organization: WaterSHED
Job Title: Materials and Construction Specialist
Location: Phnom Penh (with regional travel)
Remuneration: Attractive salary based on skills and experience
Deadline: 31 May 2014

Job Description
The Materials and Construction Specialist will join an in-house practice area to design new water, sanitation, and hygiene products targeted at rural households in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia. WaterSHED seeks a Materials and Construction Specialist with experience working with a variety of materials and construction techniques, a passion for hands-on building and tinkering, and an interest in understanding the motivations, constaints, aspirations, and needs of the consumer.. Our objective is to introduce both incremental improvements as well as game-changing designs that can reshape the market opportunity for local product suppliers. Typically this means developing products and the systems around them which make them affordable, accessible, attractive, durable and easy to install.

Design project: Latrine Shelter Design
WaterSHED’s Hands-Off sanitation marketing program has the goal of improving the supply of safe, sustainable, and affordable sanitation products and services through local market channels. It ignites consumer demand by directly addressing consumption barriers and focusing on the motivators for households to prioritize the purchase and use of sanitation products. It also encourages government leadership to create a receptive environment for sanitation businesses to succeed. Since 2009, it has become the largest and most cost-effective program of its kind in the world, with more than 150 local private businesses that work closely with sales agents, input suppliers, and local government. Having built a network primarily to produce and sell over 70,000 latrine core sets (the plumbing), WaterSHED has learned that perhaps the most significant remaining barrier for rural Cambodian consumers to install a toilet is the desire to save money to build a permanent shelter (the above ground amenities including walls and roof).

A comprehensive consumer adoption study conducted by WaterSHED in 2012 supported this: 55% of ‘non-installer’ respondents cited the shelter as the primary reason for not adopting toilet. The study also confirmed that the vast majority of rural Cambodians indeed desire toilets with permanent shelter structures. Roughly 77% of rural households without a latrine indicated that they want a pour-flush latrine and the vast majority (61%) said they were delaying purchase until they had enough money for a shelter, particularly a nice shelter with a roof.

This project will iteratively design and test-market a solution that will unlock access for a significant portion of the more than 70% of rural Cambodians who lack a toilet. WaterSHED’s existing network of value chain actors represents the ideal platform for introducing the necessary infrastructure – of which the most important remaining part is an affordable, attractive, and accessible shelter.

It is expected that the design team will develop a range of shelter options (as necessary) to maximize market uptake among rural consumers. The Materials and Construction Specialist will work closely with local producers and manufacturers to create and develop concepts.

Expected Design Approach
The design team will follow a participatory and iterative design approach. Together with the design team, the Materials and Construction Specialist will engage prospective consumers, local businesses, government and sector stakeholders. This position will work closely with the WASH Product Designer to help uncover insights about the consumers’ motivations and constraints regarding latrine shelters and provide expertise on material choice and construction. The Material and Construction Specialist’s specific role within the design team will be to experiment with various materials and construction techniques that meet the needs of the consumer. During the design process, it is expected that the Materials and Construction Specialist will be able to recommend and implement changes to the choice of materials and construction methods based on feedback from consumers. The Materials and Construction Specialist will research options for construction materials and methods on the market in Cambodia, as well as materials that could be easily imported into the country, e.g. from China. The market research may require consulting with construction companies in Cambodia and abroad.

Rapid Prototyping: Promising design options would be assessed through the lenses of desirability to the consumer, technical feasibility, and business viability. The Materials and Construction Specialist should enjoy and excel at getting his/her hands dirty building and rebuilding prototypes, so that design options can be evaluated quickly.

We expect the design team to begin putting tangible products into the hands of prospective consumers and producers very early in the process. In previous discussions with existing businesses, many valuable ideas have already arisen that can be tested. The primary activity at this stage is to gain user feedback through test sales. WaterSHED has extensive experience in test-selling and may conduct prospective door-to-door and group sales events as well as in-home trials of potential products.

Duties of the Materials and Construction Specialist:

  • Identify durable materials suitable for consumers’ motivations and constraints
  • Research the market for available materials, both local and imported
  • Develop easy do-it-yourself construction methods for the shelter
  • Engage with cross-disciplinary team to develop innovative solutions to the complicated problems related to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Undertake other duties as required

Skills & competencies:

  1. Degree in civil engineering, material science/engineering, architecture, or other relevant qualification
  2. Experience in construction, materials analysis, structural analysis, and/or architectural design
  3. Understanding of the process of rapid prototyping and iterative design
  4. Familiarity with various construction materials, specifically materials that are available in or can be affordably imported into Cambodia
  5. Familiarity with manufacturing processes
  6. Passion for hands-on building, re-building, taking apart, and tinkering with things
  7. Proficiency in CAD software: SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Rhino, Inventor, or other similar program

Personal Attributes:

  1. Appreciation of the objectives and values of WaterSHED
  2. Excellent communication skills
  3. Entrepreneurial, creative, initiative, dynamic and enthusiastic
  4. Good at problem solving and critical thinking with an ability to work independently
  5. Ability to work on multiple tasks and meet tight deadlines
  6. Honest and trustworthy

Interested applicants please send:

  1. WaterSHED application form (download)
  2. Cover letter
  3. C.V. or Resume, with the name and contact of three references
  4. Example work or porfolio

(Please do not send copies of certificates or other documentation in addition to the above).
to with the subject “Materials and Construction Specialist.” Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview. For further information about the organization:

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