Water and Health Intern: WASH Disease Vulnerability and Surveillance

Applications procedure
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    Hamilton, Canada
    UTC -4

    About United Nations University

    For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on the pressing global problems of human survival, conflict prevention, development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 13 countries, UNU’s work spans the full breadth of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.

    United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH)

    The UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (http://inweh.unu.edu/) is a member of the UNU family of organizations. Its vision is a world free of water problems where sustainable human development and environmental health and security are assured for all. Its mission is to help resolve pressing water challenges that are of concern to the United Nations, its Member States, and their people. UNU-INWEH pursues its mission through critical analysis and synthesis of existing bodies of scientific discovery; targeted research that identifies emerging policy issues; application of on-the-ground scalable science-based solutions to water issues; and global outreach. UNU-INWEH is the only entirely-water focused Institute within the UNU System, and the only entirely water-related UN entity in Canada. UNU-INWEH is supported by the Government of Canada and hosted by McMaster University.

    UNU-INWEH works on four broadly defined, interconnected thematic areas: i) accelerating the implementation of water-related SDGs ii) activating a technology revolution for water security in the Global South; iii) advancing gender equality for effective water management and iv) managing water- and climate-related risks for improved water security UNU-INWEH-Strategic-Plan. The institute focuses primarily on global water issues and their implications for developing countries.

    Project description

    • poor Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is responsible for almost 3% of all deaths annually
    • global WASH investments could save US $260 billion annually and returns $5 for every dollar spent
    • climate change will exacerbate infectious and vector-borne WASH disease transmission by altering their geographic ranges and seasonal patterns

    UNU-INWEH is developing a digital health online tool (WAVES: WASH disease Vulnerability and Surveillance) that can measure, map, and inform design of WASH for health interventions. We are looking for interns who assist with the development of a cholera risk index and dengue risk machine learning algorithm to facilitate the identification of clusters, the mapping of epidemic characteristics and forecasting of disease occurrence.

    Description of responsibilities

    • support development of a cholera risk index and dengue risk machine learning algorithm for country-specific modelling
    • collect and synthesize datasets and validate models for selected countries
    • draft research outputs detailing relevant literature, research methods, and results
    • undertake additional tasks as assigned by the supervisor

    Learning objective

    Develop interns’ research knowledge and capabilities, including ability to conduct meta-analyses and apply critical thinking skills to address pressing water and health policy problems.


    Core Values:

    • respect for diversity
    • integrity
    • professionalism

    Core Competencies:

    • awareness and sensitivity regarding gender issues
    • accountability
    • creative problem solving
    • effective communication
    • inclusive collaboration



    • university studies in one of the following disciplines: Epidemiology, Biostatistics, GIS, Remote Sensing, Computer Science, Environmental Science or other relevant subjects is required
    • be in the final year of undergraduate study or enrolled in a graduate degree programme or within two years post-graduation (maximum) from either a bachelors, masters or PhD degree programme
    • excellent writing and research skills, including ability to conduct searches in academic databases
    • ability to conduct statistical and analyses
    • working knowledge of ArcGIS and computer programming skills are an advantage
    • ability to prioritise work and multi-task; focus on delivery; self-motivation
    • ability to work in a multicultural environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity


    • excellent communication skills (written and oral) in English are required
    • working knowledge of another UN language is an advantage

    Eligibility requirements can be found here.

    Duration and start date

    The duration of this internship is 6 months on a full-time basis with an expected start date of
    15 May or as soon as possible thereafter. Part-time applications will be considered under exceptional conditions.

    Duty station

    The successful candidate shall undertake the internship remotely due to the ongoing pandemic associated with travel restrictions, uncertainties, and delays in many aspects. This arrangement should also limit possible exposure to COVID-19. Interns working remotely must have access to a personal laptop or desktop with basic functionalities and internet access for the duration of their in-/externship.


    Interns who are not in receipt of financial support (please indicate on application form; 15 c & d) for the purpose of this internship from other sources such as universities or other institutions will receive a stipend from UNU to partially subsidise basic daily expenses such as meals, transportation, and internet costs for the duration of the internship.

    The monthly amount of the stipend will be determined according to the location of the in-/extern based on the stipend rates in effect. The stipend will be paid on a monthly basis and part-time internship arrangements are prorated accordingly.

    Additional information

    Interns are not staff members and may not represent UNU in any official capacity.

    The purpose of the Internship Programme is not to lead to further employment with UNU but to complement an intern’s studies. Therefore, there should be no expectation of employment at the end of an internship.

    UNU 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 and become part of the organisation.

    UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.

  • Interested and eligible (must satisfy Eligibility Criteria) applicants should submit their application online through Impactpool and must upload all required documents listed below:

    • A completed and signed Internship Application Form downloadable from the UNU-INWEH website
    • A separate cover letter with a) a brief statement of purpose and b) why you think an internship would be a valuable opportunity and c) setting out how your qualifications and description of previous relevant experience match the requirements of the position
    • A Copy of Your University Transcript: Undergraduate or Graduate transcript. Unofficial is acceptable
    • For Non-Native English Speakers, a Copy of Your English Language Certification (E.g., TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC); not required if the applicant has completed undergraduate and/or graduate studies with English as the medium of instruction. See FAQ Section 2 for further information on language certification
    • Confirmation of Family Relationship downloadable from the UNU-INWEH website
    • Only upload documents as requested. Applications submitted with additional documents e.g. reference letters can be disqualified
    • An indication of the reference number of the vacancy announcement (2021/UNU/INWEH/INTERN/WHI/WAVES/25)
    • Please include your surname in the file names of any attachments

    Candidates invited for interview must submit prior to the interview the following documents:

    • Document(s) for Proof of enrollment or graduation; downloadable from the UNU-INWEH website
    • Two Letters of Recommendation from your references as specified in application form (#17)
    • Proof of health and life/accident insurance valid for the location in which the internship will be carried out. Selected intern must have health and life insurance. NOTE: ONLY applicable for on-site internships

    Only short-listed candidates will be notified and applications that do not include all the requested information will not be considered.

    UNU accepts no responsibility for costs arising from accidents and/or illness or death incurred during the internship.