ILRI Graduate Fellowship: Cross-scale Political Economy of Low GHG Emission Dairy Development

ILRI and CIFOR seek two PhD students for interdisciplinary social and political science research under an IFAD-funded project entitled “Greening livestock: incentive-based climate-smart agriculture interventions for reducing the climate impact of livestock in East Africa”. The Project focuses on identifying the conditions that enable and constrain East African dairy producers in adopting climate smart agriculture practices, involving analysis that ranges from the political economy dynamics shaping the effectiveness of dairy development interventions to household labor dynamics affecting adoption of improved production practices by dairy smallholders. One PhD position will focus on Kenya and the other will focus on Tanzania. Both PhD students are expected to work within a coherent conceptual and methodological framework, to be developed in conjunction with ILRI and CIFOR supervisors.
ILRI works with partners worldwide to enhance the roles that livestock play in food security and poverty alleviation, principally in Africa and Asia. The outcomes of these research partnerships help people in developing countries keep their farm animals’ alive and productive, increase and sustain their livestock and farm productivity, find profitable markets for their animal products, and reduce the risk of livestock-related diseases
ILRI is a not-for-profit institution with a staff of about 700 and in 2016, an operating budget of about USD83 million. A member of the CGIAR Consortium working for a food-secure future, ILRI has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, a principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and offices in other countries in East, West and Southern Africa and in South, Southeast and East Asia
Dietary changes and growing populations in Sub-Saharan Africa are leading to major increases in demand for livestock products. In East Africa, livestock is a major source of rural income and food security. Livestock production provides between 40 and 55% of household incomes and 26% of protein intake in diets. Across East Africa, livestock production is predominantly managed by smallholder farmers with dairy representing the most important end-market. In mixed crop-livestock systems, half of the agricultural workforce is employed in livestock production; in extensive dryland livestock systems this figure exceeds 90%. Thus, growth in demand for livestock products is an important opportunity to improve incomes for smallholder livestock producers.
In low income countries, such as those in East Africa, however livestock is a major source of GHG emissions. It is estimated that livestock-related GHG emissions represent over 80% of total agriculture emissions and 12% of total anthropogenic emissions. The increasing growth in demand for livestock products is an urgent concern as this in turn could result in increased GHG emissions. Implementing mechanisms to remunerate smallholders to increase productivity while reducing GHG emissions intensities requires national policy support and engagement of the private sector. Currently, the development of Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS) is increasingly prioritized by East African governments and donors, and the livestock sector is a promising target given their high emissions contributions and vital role in household incomes and food security. However, the lack of reliable estimates on GHG emissions associated to different practices and productivity levels for different systems is a barrier to the implementation of LEDS. The Project aims to generate evidence that can be used by both public or private sector organizations and platforms to identify appropriate incentive mechanisms and in the implementation, monitoring, reporting and verification for LEDS that include the livestock sector. Because of the potential to sequester carbon and the need to address land degradation in the region, this effort will be supported by land rehabilitation initiatives and investments in improved forest management practices. Kenya is a leader amongst East African countries in this area, with Tanzania well positioned to develop a LEDS that will include the livestock sector in the near future.
Scope of the PhD assignment
The PhD student will directly contribute to Component 2 of the Project entitled “Social and institutional analyses to identify appropriate interventions to promote the uptake of climate smart agriculture practice in the Kenyan and Tanzanian Dairy sector”. Component 2 aims to identify viable interventions to enhance the productivity and sustainability of different types of dairy production systems. The PhD student will contribute to this by undertaking the following research activities:
  • Analysis of dairy value chain dynamics through key informant interviews and semi-structured surveys, including factors that shape smallholder modes of integration into input and off-take markets and identifying market mechanisms that best contribute to smallholder upgrading
  • Analysis of smallholder production practices by conducting producer surveys and focus group discussions, with emphasis on identifying social, technical, and economic barriers to adoption of best climate smart agriculture practices faced by different types of smallholders. This should include the development of a producer typology.
  • Identification of socially and economically viable options that take into account the identified barriers to adoption, disaggregated by producer type. This includes political economic assessment of the institutional context, relevant political processes across scales, implementation challenges experienced by different types of public and private dairy development programs, and identification of viable alternative implementation scenarios.
  • Analysis of potential financing mechanisms to support the implementation of identified intervention options and dairy LEDS more generally. This should include analysis of producer willingness to pay for different types of climate smart agriculture technologies, to be identified by research colleagues on the project.
Qualifications and skills
The ideal candidate will have:
  • Obtained a Master’s degree in geography, anthropology, sociology, political economy, development studies or other relevant social science discipline. People with qualifications only in biophysical sciences should not apply.
  • Enrolled in an accredited PhD program and be near completion of coursework.
  • Experience in East Africa and/or with smallholder dairy production systems in developing countries.
  • Experience with social science research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, including value chain analysis and political economic assessments.
  • Strong conceptual skills for comparative cross-scale political economy research.
  • Familiarity with statistical software such as SPSS or STATA.
  • Ability to supervise and train research assistants and provide necessary quality control.
  • Excellent written and spoken English. Ability to converse in Kiswahili is also a major asset.
  • Ability to effectively communicate in a multicultural context, present findings to diverse audiences, and support facilitation of multi-stakeholder workshops.
  • Ability to collaborate with biophysical scientists in an interdisciplinary team project.
The PhD fellowship offers a three year stipend and operating budget, but will not cover coursework, university fees, etc. The ideal candidate will be able to develop a full proposal and begin fieldwork by January 2017.
Location: One fellow will be located in Kenya and another in Tanzania.
How to apply:  Interested applicants should submit the following documents;
  • Curriculum Vitae including three references with contact information.
  • A cover letter describing the candidate’s interests in and qualifications for carrying out the research, referring to the candidate’s Curriculum Vitae as fitting, and highlighting any particularly relevant qualifications to the Director, People and Organizational Development. The fellowship title and reference number: CAPDEV/08/2016 should be clearly indicated in the subject line of the cover letter.
All applications to be submitted online through our recruitment portal on or before 10 September 2016.
We thank all applicants for their interest in ILRI. Due to the volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants’ bank accounts.
To find out more about ILRI visit our websites at
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