Communications and Outreach Specialist

  • Location:
  • Salary:
    negotiable / YEAR
  • Job type:
  • Posted:
    1 month ago
  • Category:
    Communication and Advocacy
  • Deadline:


Organizational Setting

The project is an EU funded initiative implemented by FAO of the United Nations on supporting Sri Lanka’s food control system to adopt better standard based practices in the agriculture and food sectors.  The current food control system is not based on prevention of risks along the nodes of the food chains, but rather on the inspections of finished products. In addition, current food standards don’t take a risk-based food safety standards approach to quality and composition, which is considered to be a key quality specification to ensure products are safe for human consumption.  This is reflected in Sri Lanka’s primary food law- the Food Act of 1980, which applies food control at the end of processing, manufacturing, and retailing, instead of the entire food chain. There are laws for animal, plant and fisheries sectors that largely apply to their primary production, however food safety along these respective food chains is not adequately covered. Institutional coordination between government institutions is important to enable comprehensive management of food control along the food chain. The statutory Food Advisory Board is a mechanism under the Food Act and is an important tool for cross-sectoral coordination and advice to the Minister of Health on food issues. However, this coordination needs to be reinforced through formal mechanisms and service level agreements so that each government institution plays an effective role in food control. For this purpose, the representation in the Food Advisory Committee must take into account all authorities responsible for food control and their technical and scientific capacities must be significantly strengthened.

In view of addressing challenges faced in the agri-food private sector, food control system and quality infrastructure system, FAO is supporting a component of these aspects through a larger EU funded four-year project, which entails upgrading the food safety and quality control system.  The other component of this EU funded program is implemented by the Lead Agency UNIDO, which focuses on building capacities of producers, processors and food business operators and promoting linkages along the agri-food value chains.  Both agencies through their respective components will engage in effective communication methods and campaigns for advocacy and behavior change, based on a market-driven approach and shaped by consumers. This has direct benefits for Sri Lanka’s agribusiness and indirect benefits for the livestock and fisheries sectors in terms of increased competitiveness and long-term benefits.  It will enhance consumer safety and product quality and lend to developing agriculture sustainably for economic development.

Overall objective of the project:
To contribute to a more productive, sustainable, diversified, climate-resilient, market-oriented and inclusive agriculture and agri-food production
sector in Sri Lanka.

Specific objective:
Consumers are more aware, informed and demanding of safe food through communication campaigns that induce social behaviour change towards healthy food consumption habits, which in turn affect producers to market healthier food.

Reporting Lines

The Communications & Outreach Specialist will work under the overall guidance and supervision of the Assistant FAO Representative (Programme) Sri Lanka, Project Management Specialist and Communications Analyst. He/she will interact closely with the national consultants, international consultants, the lead technical officer and relevant FAO Technical Officers and will be supported by the Project Management Unit (PMU).

Technical Focus

Result Area 4 – Consumers, enterprises, institutions, and other stakeholders are more aware, informed, and demanding of food safety and quality.

Sub-result Area 4.1 – Consumer-driven communication campaign implemented to change the social behaviour of consumers towards improved food safety.

Tasks and responsibilities

•    Serve as a member of the project team and work in partnership with the relevant national stakeholders to induce social behaviour change in consumers towards improved food safety and create a demand for food safety.
•    Keep track of media reports on food safety (including digital media) and align with survey findings to identify effects on social behaviour, and provide inputs for the public outreach strategy.
•    Work in close coordination with project coordinator, OCC and other relevant FAO focal points to procure services of service providers to draft a public outreach strategy, a communications campaign and create relevant content for digital and legacy media
•    Work in close coordination with a service provider to draft the public outreach strategy focused on changing consumer behaviour towards food safety. using media trends, the SAR and research findings in consultation.
•    Work in close coordination with a service provider to develop a communications strategy based on the baseline study findings and the public outreach strategy and obtain consensus of the he Communications Expert Committee.
•    Work in close coordination with a service provider to develop and pilot test food safety messages using various tools and communication material designed to induce social behaviour change in food safety (field test and evaluate effectiveness) and create awareness in targeted subsets of the population and validate through expert committee inputs.
•    Oversee the overall development and implementation of the national level, consumer driven SBCC campaign on food safety by a Service Provider, in close coordination with the communications expert committee.
•    Identify and measure the impact of messaging penetration and effectiveness of the SBCC campaign through an endline survey
•    Identify gaps in content and develop targeted food safety education material designed for school children of 8-12 years old through a Service Provider and work with the Ministry of Education to introduce it as part of the school e-learning curriculum.
•    Facilitate consultative sessions with educators to disseminate the developed curriculum material and obtain feedback on effectiveness of the content and its implementation.
•    Conduct collaborative workshops with Civil Society Organizations (CSO), Consumer Associations (CA), and Trade Associations (TA) to build advocacy capacity towards the dissemination of food safety messaging.
•    Identify opportunities for establishing a sub-group dedicated to food safety education and sustained action.
•    Develop TORs for service providers hired for delivering identified outputs.
•    Oversee, monitor progress, operationally and financially close contracts/agreements and evaluate the service providers hired for delivering identified outputs.
•    Provide overall project communications support on visibility and maintaining branding guidelines.
•    Work closely and support the UNIDO communications and visibility officer to develop common project campaign materials on food safety and quality.
•    Familiarize self with FAO’s corporate communication policy and operational guidelines to ensure mandatory coherence of all communication and information outputs in consultation with the National Communications Analyst at FAOLK.
•    Liaison with the Office of Communication (OCC) will be maintained, either directly or through an agreed focal point/coordinator, to ensure compliance with OCC standards, appropriate review and clearance processes.
•    Study all relevant FAO guidelines on communications and then demonstrate a strong understanding of FAO Style in drafting documentation, without the need for continuous correction or oversight.
All communication materials will follow FAO clearance processes and comply with FAO standards, including:
FAOSTYLE (English:; French:; Spanish:; Arabic:; Chinese:;
FAO terminology;
FAO Names Of Countries;
Story guidelines;
Story template;
UN map standards (available to staff);
FAO Brand and policy book (available to staff).
•    Further guidance regarding FAO communications, policies and procedures can be found through the FAO intranet, OCC section.


Minimum Requirements    

•    University degree in communications, media relations, journalism, international development, social sciences or a related discipline.
•    A minimum of 5 years of experience in the communications and media field.
•    Working knowledge of English (reading, writing, listening, speaking) and Sinhala and/or Tamil.
•    National of Sri Lanka.

FAO Core Competencies

•    Results Focus
•    Teamwork
•    Communication
•    Building Effective Relationships
•    Knowledge Sharing and Continuous Improvement

Technical/Functional Skills

•    Experience in international development would be an added advantage.
•    Good understanding of agriculture/food related development issues and similar activities in Sri Lanka.
•    Demonstrated experience in working with government structures at national level and wider stakeholders and being well versed with national communication processes an added advantage.
•    Knowledge of UN administration and related procedures is an advantage.
•    Proficiency in the use of office software packages and in handling web-based management systems.
•    Excellence in research and writing skills, with experience in drafting communication strategies and contents that communicate key messages in a simplified and easy-to-understand manner.
•    Demonstrated experience in developing contents that clearly communicates development ideas for media, web, print production, and audio-visual productions.
•    Skills in developing interactive, informative and engaging digital content would be ad added advantage.
•    Substantive knowledge and practical experience in planning, designing, and implementing communications campaigns and initiatives preferably on social behaviour change.




  • FAO does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing)
  • Applications received after the closing date will not be accepted
  • Please note that FAO only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU) / United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed at 
  • For additional employment opportunities visit the FAO employment website:
  •  Appointment will be subject to certification that the candidate is medically fit for appointment, accreditation, any residency or visa requirements, and security clearances.
This job has expired.