Leonard John Abrams

Personal information:
Born:          19 November 1954, Kitale, Kenya
Nationality: British and South African, resident in United Kingdom
Status:        Married, 2 adult children

University:   MSc Civil Engineering (Water Resources Management), University of the Witwatersrand,
                             Johannesburg, 1988
                   B.Sc. Civil Engineering, Natal University, Durban 1974-1977
School:        Hilton College, Natal, South Africa, Matriculation 1972

Contact information:
1 Dome Hill
Caterham CR3 6EE United Kingdom
Phone: +44(0)1883-349665
Mobile: +44(0)7941-095086
Email: Len@LenAbrams.com
Web sites: www.LenAbrams.com; www.AfricanWater.org; SeasonImages.com; revlen.co.uk

Career phases:
   Independent consultant: Water Sector                - 2010 to present
   African infrastructure development and financing - 2003 to 2009;     6 1⁄2  years
   International development consulting                  - 1995 to 2003;     8 years
   National Government / Ministerial Advisor           - 1994 to 1995;     2 years
   Local rural services provision                             - 1987 to 1993;     6 years
   Initial technical experience                                - 1978 to 1987;      9 years

 Countries of work experience:
South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, DRC, Burundi, Eritrea, Sudan, Djibouti, Angola, Egypt, China, Thailand, United States, United Kingdom

Professional career summary:

Period:     Sept 2009 to present

Organisation: Self employed

Position: Consultant

Place:        Surrey, England

Function and responsibility: Independent international consultant. Assignments include water resources development, international river basin management, political economy analysis, policy development, evaluation, strategic advice and institutional development. Consultant to and International Associate of the Stockholm International Water Institute – SIWI.

Assignments include Lead or Key Expert on the following projects:

  • Political Economy Analysis support to CRIDF II, Southern Africa
  • Zambezi River Basin Strategic Development Plan – Key international expert
  • ICED – Global Water for Growth Advisory Programme
  • Okavango River Basin Multi-Sector Investment Options Analysis (MSIOA)
  • DFID Zimbabwe Country Engagement
  • Water security and climate resilience in the Horn of Africa – IGAD Key international expert
  • CRIDF I: Programme establishment support, Review of SADC water infrastructure strategy, Matabeleland Small Dams Programme, Alternative water supply to Bulawayo, CRIDF Small Dams Programme, CRIDF + Rural Livelihoods
  • Political Economy Analysis Framework for International Waters
  • Zimbabwe on National Water Policy - Lead International Expert
  • Zimbabwe Water Sector Investment Strategy - Lead International Expert
  • Nile River Basin – Mid-term Review, Independent Evaluator
  • Zambezi Basin Political Economy Study

- ZAMSec - WB
- World Bank - ECA


- World Bank - SIWI
- World Bank
- World Bank
- World Bank
- World Bank

Period:     January 2003 to Sept 2009

Organisation: World Bank

Position: Senior Water Resources Management Specialist

Place:        Washington DC, USA

Function and responsibility: Mr. Abrams was recruited to the World Bank in Washington DC to set up a programme comprising a portfolio of water resource projects in Southern Africa, working with the governments of Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia and Kenya. He was responsible for leading the programme including analytical and operational aspects which involve both undertaking detailed economic, social and hydrological studies, and the preparation and supervision of lending operations for the construction of infrastructure, the development of public sector institutional structures and capacity building. Skills applied include strategic analysis, establishing and leading multi-sectoral teams of World Bank staff and consultants, close liaison with and support for client governments, and collaboration with bi-lateral donors and international financing agencies. Programme activities included procurement of goods and services; the management of budgets and Trust Funds; application of social, environmental and other Safeguards; Risk Analysis; and monitoring and evaluation on the basis of established Results Frameworks. In addition to the country level programmes, Mr. Abrams was responsible for the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Reduction programmes in Malawi and Mozambique, and for the Bank’s international rivers programme in the Zambezi River Basin in collaboration with 8 riparian states and a number of bi-lateral partners.

Period:       Nov. 1995-January 2003

Organisation: Self Employed

Position:    Independent Consultant

Place:    South Africa to Jan 2000; From Jan 2000 in the UK

Function and responsibility: Consultant in private practice to United Nations (FAO, UNDP and UNICEF), World Bank, Department for International Development of the British Government, South Afri- can Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, European Commission, and other clients. Mr Abrams undertook a wide range of projects primarily for national governments, mainly in the water resources / environment sectors including policy development, strategic advice, public sector institution reform and stakeholder engagement. This was in 22 countries in Africa.

Period:       Sept. 1993-Oct 1995

Organisation:      Ministry of Water Affairs and Forestry

Position:    Ministerial Adviser

Place:                 Pretoria & Cape Town, South Africa

Function and responsibility: After an initial brief period of secondment to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry of the South African Government, Mr. Abrams was appointed Special Technical and Political Adviser to the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Prof. Kader Asmal, in the new South African government after the elections in April 1994. He was responsible as part of the core strategic leadership team for policy formulation, technical and strategic advice, and for leading a number of initiatives and teams to implement transformation and restructuring activities in the new civil service. Regular ministerial briefings, answering constituents’ and MPs’ questions whilst also dealing with internal Depart- mental politics in the midst of a fundamental transition process were all part of daily responsibilities.

Period:       Oct. 1987-Aug. 1993

Organisation: Rural Advice Center, NGO

Position:    Executive Director

Place:        Johannesburg, South Africa

Function and responsibility: Mr Abrams founded the Rural Advice Centre and built the organisation from one staff member (himself) to a staff of 80 (50 professional and technical staff including 23 engineers) with 6 branches around the country and a National Office. The main activities of the organization were rural public health services (based mainly on community water supply), building local governance structures and developing community participation processes. The work included rural township projects with Civic Associations as clients. Mr Abrams’ responsibilities as Executive Director (accountable to a Board) evolved as the organization grew and key responsibilities were able to be delegated to a developing management team. Overall responsibility for running the organisation including strategic over- sight, establishment and leadership of management team, public representation of the organisation, fund raising, and networking with related organisations, all within the complex political environment of South Africa at the time.

During the Southern African drought crisis of late 1992, South Africa was in the middle of the transition negotiations which led to the democratic elections of April 1994. The ANC and other organisations had been unbanned. The drought emergency required a high degree of cooperation between the then government, the resistance movements and civil society to address the crisis, especially in rural areas. The National Consultative Forum on Drought was formed to co-ordinate and manage a national response to the crisis. Mr Abrams was appointed National Manager of the effort on the basis of a nomination from the ANC for the period August to December 1992 (when the drought broke), on secondment from the Rural Advice Centre. The role required diplomacy and the leadership of a very diverse team.

Period:       Jan. 1978- Oct. 1987

Organisation: South African Railways and private Consultants

Position:    Project / site engineer

Place:             Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa

Function and responsibility:
General site engineering and construction supervision of large civil contracts with South African Rail- ways. Highway and roads design; rural water supply and sanitation; groundwater computer modeling research and rural groundwater projects. Headed a team of technicians and draftspersons as Project Engineer.