PhD in Foodshed Climate Services for sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa

PhD in Foodshed Climate Services for sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa

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29 Nov 20 Dec Wageningen

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Job description

Are you passionate about improving the sustainability of food systems and combating the impacts of Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)? An exciting interdisciplinary PhD opportunity within the HORIZON project SAFE4ALL awaits you at Wageningen University's Water Systems and Global Change Group!

The project aims to support local and regional actors in decision making to safeguard African food security, disaster management and migration and to build resilience in communities across scales. The project will harness the EU climate services landscape and leverage it with local knowledge from African case studies. It will advance the uptake of user-centered climate services in three selected vulnerable regions in Africa (Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe). The emphasis is on tackling issues related to migration from secondary cities to the main cities within countries in Africa and beyond.

Within SAFE4ALL, a PhD position is designed to deal with the following key objectives:

1) Assessing Food Policy Systems in SSA. You will:
  • dive into the intricate landscape of food policy systems in SSA and perform a comprehensive assessment of food policy systems in the 3 case study areas in SSA.
  • evaluate these systems by assessing their responsiveness to climate change, internal migration, urbanization, and other socio-economic developments.
  • perform a review on how existing policies anticipate and adapt to these challenges and recognize risks to food security.

2) Identification of short and long term risks for key crops production in SSA. You will:
  • focus on the short-term and long-term risks to the production of key crops in the study cases.
  • address short-term risks related to climate variability and long-term risks related to climate change and socio-economic developments, including land use changes.
  • make use of yield forecast maps and conceptualize a user-friendly portal to guide decision-making towards more sustainable food systems and resilience.

3) Using foodsheds and yield forecasting to visualize the effects of Climate Change, migration, urbanization, and socio-economic development on food systems in SSA. You will:
  • follow a holistic approach, utilizing foodsheds and yield forecasting to visualize and analyze the integrated impacts of climate change, migration, urbanization, and socio-economic development on food systems in the case studies.
  • research how foodsheds transform under the influence of climate change, evaluating shifts in production areas and consumption patterns.
  • explore the profound effects of socio-economic changes, with a particular focus on migration, which can reshape the dynamics of foodsheds and ultimately inform more adaptive food system planning in the study cases and in general in SSA.

4) Evaluate the foodsheds concept as a climate service. You will:
  • perform a comprehensive evaluation of the foodsheds concept as a climate service, supported by spatial data and stakeholder analysis.
  • reflect on how the foodshed approach and visualization tools effectively demonstrate the impacts of climate change and socio-economic development.
  • engage with stakeholders and co-develop adaptation options for short and long term scenarios, and connect with policy, seamlessly integrating with the key objectives to promote sustainable food system planning and development in SSA.

Your responsibilities:
  • conduct research and analysis within the project framework;
  • contribute to development of new methods to support sustainable food systems in SSA;
  • publish research results in peer-reviewed journals;
  • write a doctoral thesis based on research findings.


Wageningen University & Research


The candidate must have the following qualities:
  • strong analytical socio-technical skills;
  • necessary programming experience using Python, C, C++; (We will not consider applications that do not showcase that);
  • proven experience with large scale hydrological and/or crop modelling and spatial data analysis with GIS; (We will not consider applications that do not showcase that);
  • familiarity with big data analysis;
  • interest in stakeholder interaction;
  • excellent scientific writing skills in English;
  • experience with publishing peer-reviewed academic journals is highly desired;
  • strong interest and desired experience with analyzing African food policy systems;
  • good organizational and intercultural communication skills;
  • willingness to travel to Africa.

You must also possess:
  • a successfully completed MSc degree in environmental sciences, earth system science, climate studies, agricultural studies, or similar with a strong quantitative background;
  • enthusiasm for collaborating with an interdisciplinary team of researchers with diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the "30% rule", certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.


Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • P1378026-1


Wageningen University & Research

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