GIS / Remote Sensing Specialist ( ABA / DRR Unit) At IMPACT Initiatives

Background on IMPACT & REACH

REACH was born in 2010 as a joint initiative of two International NGOs (IMPACT Initiatives and ACTED) and the United Nations Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT). REACH’s purpose is to promote and facilitate the development of information products that enhance the humanitarian community’s decision making and planning capacity for emergency, reconstruction and development contexts. REACH facilitates information management for aid actors through three complementary services: (a) need and situation assessments facilitated by REACH teams; (b) situation analysis using satellite imagery; (c) provision of related database and (web)-mapping facilities and expertise.

IMPACT Initiatives is a humanitarian NGO, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The organisation manages several initiatives, including the REACH Initiative. The IMPACT team comprises specialists in data collection, management and analysis and GIS. IMPACT was launched at the initiative of ACTED, an international NGO whose headquarter is based in Paris and is present in thirty countries. The two organizations have a strong complementarity formalized in a global partnership, enabling IMPACT to benefit from ACTED’s operational support on its fields of intervention.

We are currently looking for a GIS / Remote Sensing Specialist to support our team at HQ.

Department:Global Initiatives

Position: GIS / Remote Sensing Specialist [ABA/DRR Unit]

Contract duration:12 months

Location: Geneva or Delocalized (with up to 20% field deployment)

Starting Date: 1 January 2024

Background on Area-based assessments and AGORA

IMPACT has started doing area-based assessments since 2016 to support humanitarian agencies, local government actors and development partners develop integrated response strategies at the level of specific crisis-affected geographic areas. Through the joint IMPACT-ACTED AGORA Initiative, IMPACT also supports direct area-based planning and programs in cities and towns affected by humanitarian crisis in 7 countries. Through REACH, area-based assessments inform the wider humanitarian community on response gaps in specific areas where humanitarian needs are particularly acute and increasingly focus on areas where climate risks are aggravating factors to pre-existing humanitarian conditions. At the global level, IMPACT has been playing a key role in advocating for area-based approaches through the Urban Settlements Working Group of the Global Shelter Cluster since 2017, and contributed to multiple position papers, webinars and case study reviews. In particular, IMPACT coordinated the publication of the Settlements Approach Guidance Note, which lays the ground principles for sound programming in the humanitarian sector, to support development partners, local governments and humanitarian agencies to improve living conditions in specific territories.

GIS and Remote Sensing play a critical role in area-based assessments, to generate a spatial understanding of the needs and barriers of access to basic services, natural assets and impacts of disaster risks at the local level among other themes.

The HQ ABA, DRR and AGORA Unit is in charge of 1) developing normative guidance and standardizing research tools for all relevant assessments, including REACH relief and recovery ABAs, localized risk and climate change-related assessments, and AGORA, and 2) supporting country teams in conducting quality assessments utilizing sound geo-spatial analysis techniques.

The Unit has launched the development of 3 global toolkits: i) The global ABA toolkit, ii) The global Area-based risk assessment toolkit, iii) The Global AGORA toolbox – under the leadership of ACTED. Each toolkit comprises a set of geo-spatial analysis tools, (some common to all toolkits, some specific). The Unit is currently supporting a number of flagship research programs.

IMPACT is looking for an experienced profile to lead the development of these tools, in line with the Unit’s strategic priorities and with existing Research best practices and internal SOPs, and to provide advanced technical support


IMPACT is seeking a candidate with a strong technical background, who has previous experience working in GIS and Remote Sensing. More specifically, the candidate should have experience with analysis of satellite imagery with different spatial and spectral resolutions for the purposes of environmental monitoring, particularly the assessment of shocks (flood, drought) and environmental degradation. The candidate should understand concepts of cartographic design and be experienced in presentation of the results of spatial analysis using static and interactive mapping products. Ideally the successful candidate will also be familiar with the collection and processing of socio-economic data and area-based assessments.

Under the direct supervision of the ABA / AGORA Unit Manager, and functional supervision of the GIS and Remote Sensing Unit at HQ, the GIS/RS Specialist is responsible for providing technical backstopping for ABA and AGORA activities and developing guidance documents and trainings for country-based teams. The GIS/RS Specialist will be responsible for the application of geographic information systems and remote sensing in the ABA Unit and supporting specific country-programs, including relevant aspects of research design, support in designing data collection tools, ensuring (spatial) data quality, geo- spatial analysis, drafting of maps, and production of web maps and information management systems.

The position is based in Geneva, but can be delocalized.


Strategy AND GUIDANCE Development

Develop, modify/adapt new RS tools and approaches to specific contexts, in line with the objectives of area-based assessments and AGORA

  • Contribute to the global toolkits as follows:
  • Area-based Risk Assessment Toolkit:
    • develop detailed guidance on hazard exposure analysis, identifying concrete applications from existing ABRA and relevant REACH geospatial analysis work and drawing best practices from external sources
    • Support with identification of hazard analysis package with high potential for country programs uptake for more themed focused assessments (e.g. urban risk, cascading (compound) risk, ecosystem risks, livelihood zones mapping, etc..
    • Support to gather GIS/RS tools required for informing the measurement of vulnerability and coping capacity indicators (prioritization of areas with high exposure to risks, best practices to overlay hazard exposure data with socio-economic hh level data for instance)
  • Global Area-based and AGORA Toolkit
  • Development of guidelines for spatial demographic, settlement analysis, land use analysis, participatory mapping
  • Development of practical guide for basic services’ catchment area calculation
  • Support with identification of priority areas based on geo-spatial targeting techniques
  • Ensure proper documentation of existing best practices, methodologies and tool development;
  • Disseminate and train on guidance within the GIS / RS and ABA COPs
  • In coordination with the Research Manager and GIS Specialist, support the development and implementation of capacity training plans for GIS and other team members, particularly on remote sensing capacities;

Support implementation of key programmes

Support in the application of programmatic guidelines with country mission, through remote technical support and surges

  • In coordination with relevant assessment officer(s), support assessment planning in line with project and program objectives and with IMPACT’s research cycle and other relevant guidelines;
  • Contribute to draft or review assessment ToRs with a specific focus on the analysis plan, and related remote sensing and geospatial analysis, as well as data management plan; especially with regard understanding patterns beyond conventional levels of aggregation / strata, non administrative levels or with new strata entirely (i.e livelihood zones, environmental features, etc.)
  • Evaluate opportunities for additional geospatial analysis within existing research cycles and contribute to analysis which informs to products related to local hazard/environmental assessments (flood, drought, wind, landslide, etc).
  • Be available to provide regular support and technical backstopping.
  • Represent the ABA / AGORA Unit when it comes to planning and procurement of UNOSAT services and satellite imagery.
  • Implementing global programmes (informing global decision makers)

Developing key global programmatic partnerships

  • Link with relevant partners to consult and involve them in the GIS components of a research cycle;
  • Represent IMPACT in relevant meetings/working groups and support the presentation of research findings through GIS inputs to relevant third parties in order to enhance their use and impact;
  • Follow up on issues identified by partners or during meetings/working groups;
  • Promote an active use of datasets, GIS products and research findings by partners and the broader humanitarian community for their decision making.


  • Work with global GIS and remote sensing unit to implement, develop, modify/adapt new RS tools and approaches to specific contexts;
  • Ensure proper documentation of methodologies and tool development;
  • Share best practices in accessible format to the GIS and remote sensing community of practice;
  • Represent the annual prioritization unit when it comes to planning and procurement of UNOSAT (or other partner) services and satellite imagery.


  • Evaluate opportunities for additional geospatial analysis within existing research cycles;
  • Perform spatial/geostatistical analysis to understand if there are patterns beyond conventional levels of aggregation / strata, below administrative levels or with new strata entirely (i.e livelihood zones, environmental features, etc.);
  • Responsible for analysis which contributes to products related to hazard/environmental monitoring (flood, drought, wind, landslide, etc), as well as how these interrelate with other analytical layers in emergency contexts;
  • Some additional common tasks: automation (via python or R) to integrate analysis processes into cartographic outputs, spatial network analysis, hotspot analyses.


The GIS/RS SPECIALIST should ensure that all interactions with affected communities are conducted in a respectful and consultative manner. Due attention must be paid to ensuring that communities are adequately consulted and informed about IMPACT programme objectives, activities, beneficiary selection criteria, and methodologies. This is the responsibility of every IMPACT staff member.


The GIS/RS SPECIALIST will maintain the strictest confidentiality on all data collected and related processes. He/she will actively take measures to prevent the unauthorized sharing of any information and data belonging to IMPACT and its partners,or collected during his/her assignment with IMPACT.



  • Academic Excellent academic qualifications, preferably including a Master degree in relevant discipline;
  • Research skills Excellent research and analytical skills required, including a sound understanding of sampling frameworks and their application, an ability to analyse large data sets, as well as conduct temporal or spatial trend analysis – experience in conducting geospatial analysis of multi-hazard and disaster risk desired.
  • Demonstrable experience with geo-spatial information management and analysis. Excellent spatial analysis skills
  • Software skills
  • Advanced knowledge of ArcGIS. Proven knowledge of Microsoft office including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Knowledge of R, STATA, python or equivalent statistical software an advantage.
  • Familiarity aid system Familiarity with the aid system, and the research community;
  • Years of work experience At least 5 years of relevant working experience
  • Experience in environment humanitarian action and decentralized planning a strong asset;
  • Training skills Proven experience in conducting training and capacity building for teams and partners on assessment methods, including ability to mentor;
  • Communication/reporting skills Excellent communication and drafting skills for effective reporting, including proven experience in contributing to research journals and/or technical guidance documents;
  • Multi-tasking skills Ability to multitask with tight deadlines, on numerous research cycles in complex environment;
  • Level of independence A self-starter with a proven ability to work independently;
  • Cross-cultural work environment Ability to operate in a cross-cultural environment requiring flexibility;
  • Experience in geographical region Past experience in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region is desirable;
  • Language skills Fluency in English required, competency in Russian an asset;
  • Security environment Ability to operate in a complex and challenging security environment


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December 2023