Postdoc in Water Management in support of Water-Food-Shelter-solutions - KITLV-KNAW - Leiden

Postdoc in Water Management in support of Water-Food-Shelter-solutions - KITLV-KNAW - Leiden

Published Deadline Location
12 Nov 28 Feb Leiden

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Job description

Project Description
Driven by the increasing public awareness of the impact of hurricanes and the devastation of coastal areas, Island(er)s at the Helm will contribute to equipping (Dutch) Caribbean societies with proficient tools for confronting these challenging climatic phenomena. Such adverse events have significant ecological, social, and cultural implications, affecting the basic living conditions (water, food, shelter-nexus/WFS-nexus) and heritage of the island inhabitants. This research builds on the principle that local-specific practices and ontologies of Caribbean societies are crucial for promoting sustainable WFS-nexus solutions. The project brings together researchers and societal partners to employ a mixture of technical, traditional, and contemporary knowledge practices for studying climate change adaptation through a long-term perspective. Five inter-related work packages studying the WFS-nexus of the island(er)s will adopt a transdisciplinary research design including: archaeology, paleoecology, (paleo)ethnobotany, social-cultural anthropology, visual arts, performance arts, political science, urban design, urban planning, governance and policy sciences, legal studies, architecture, and civil engineering.

Island(er)s at the Helm is financed by the NWO Caribbean Research programme. The host institute for this project is the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV/KNAW), in collaboration with the University of St. Martin.

We are looking for a suitable candidate to work in employment at KITLV. However, if you are already (partly employed) in the Caribbean, we can accommodate for you to work from the Caribbean on this project.

Job Description
The Island(er)s at the Helm project is looking for a Postdoctoral candidate in Water Management in support of Water-Food-Shelter-solutions in the work package “Co-engineering the water-food-shelter-nexus with local stakeholders”.

Together with other researchers in this work package, the researcher will aim to develop locally embedded engineering solutions for the WFS-nexus on the Caribbean windward islands.

The focus will be on the socio-technical systems of provisioning of water, food, and shelter on the islands, while respecting ecological values. Given the scarcity of water and the water security challenges on the islands, and the conditioning character of water for decentralized WFS-solutions, this research will predominantly focus on water from an Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) perspective.

The building blocks for a sustainable human right to water for domestic purposes will be used as an operationalized IWRM-framework for analysis and assessment of the current system, leading to design requirements for WFS-nexus solutions. The building blocks framework acknowledges the physical, cultural, and institutional differences between the islands, calling for island-specific designs and implementation of general solutions.

The framework also calls for an analysis of urban infrastructure planning and management, in relation to land use for urban development, tourism, and agriculture on the islands, which may put decentralized and autonomous (off-grid) WFS-solutions at risk or make them impossible at all, e.g., by competing for scarce resources, by blocking streams and drainage, or by depleting or polluting resources.

In addition, the PD will pay attention to the resilience of the designed WFS-nexus solutions under extreme climate conditions causing disruptions (e.g., hurricanes) and continued stress (e.g., drought), thus contributing to the resilience of local communities.

In this work package, the PD will work together with a PhD, who will focus on designing architectural solutions for a sustainable WFS-nexus. The work of the PD will aim at understanding the relationship between the solutions and the water management system and at developing ways to fit and embed these solutions within these systems. Vice versa, the solutions may call for improvement, adaptation, or change of the systems from a socio-technical and ecological point of view.


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)


  • PhD degree in water management, environmental technology or a related discipline, with knowledge of the urban water cycle and/or knowledge of freshwater management in small islands;
  • Capability of working in interdisciplinary teams and willingness to interact with a diverse set of partners and stakeholders;
  • Proven track record in scientific publishing.
  • Command of the English language, both in speaking and writing, and structured writing skills in general;
  • Comprehension of Papiamento, Dutch, and Spanish, alongside Caribbean creole English; Haitian Kreyol is considered a plus;
  • Experience with working in the region is considered a plus.

Conditions of employment

We are looking for a suitable candidate to work in employment at KITLV. However, if you are already (partly employed) in the Caribbean, we can accommodate for you to work from the Caribbean on this project. Please contact us to inquire about the possibilities.

KITLV is a KNAW institute. Appointment will be according to the terms of the Collective Labor Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten).

We offer a part time (0,6 fte) position (22,8 hours per week) for three years starting as soon as possible, but after 1 January 2022.

Based on the university system of job classification [universitair systeem functieordenen, or UFO], the position is classified as job profile Post-doctoral Researcher [Onderzoeker 4].

The gross monthly salary will be based on experience and will be € 2,044 (in accordance with salary scale 10, of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

KNAW offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %) and training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. In case the applicant is not currently a resident of The Netherlands, the applicant is expected to move.

The position is based at KITLV ( Leiden is a pleasant, historical city located between Amsterdam and The Hague. KITLV is committed to diversity, inclusiveness, and equal opportunities.

To apply for this position, we require a CV, letter of motivation, Preliminary Research Proposal according to NWO format (obtainable via applications[at] and two letters of recommendation. Incomplete applications will not be (re)viewed by the selection committee.


Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)

The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV-KNAW) is an Academy research institute. The KITLV conducts interdisciplinary and comparative historical research. Its research focus is Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, with an emphasis on Indonesia and the ‘Dutch’ Caribbean. It is particularly interested in such issues as state formation, violence and citizenship, processes of mobility and the formation of ethnic and national identity. KITLV is active in the humanities, social sciences and comparative area studies and works closely with Leiden University.


  • Postdoc
  • Engineering; Natural sciences
  • max. 22.8 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • AT2021-114


Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

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Reuvensplaats 2, 2311 BE, Leiden

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