World Agroforestry Centre seeking social scientist/adaptation specialist


Social Scientist / Adaptation Specialist

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Employer: World Agroforestry Centre

About the position

Even the most ambitious mitigation policies will not prevent climate related impacts to rise over the course of the century. Appropriate adaptation strategies and risk reduction measures to climate variability and change will therefore be increasingly important. With agriculture’s strong weather dependence, smallholder farmers are especially vulnerable to weather extremes. Future changes in weather patterns and rising temperatures will likely be even more detrimental.

It is therefore necessary to identify current and future vulnerabilities to climate variability and change and develop scientifically sound and robust adaptation strategies in the context of agroforestry systems that mitigate climate impacts. It is also necessary to devise the limits of adaptation and identify complementary safeguards and transition pathways that allow for a ‘soft landing’.

The main purpose of the position will be to:

  • Learn from existing community and farmer practices to identify and map current and future vulnerabilities to climate change;
  • Analyze impacts of development projects and develop robust adaptation strategies and climate smart practices with special focus on agroforestry systems and derive possible transition pathways;
  • Identify the limits of adaptation to weather extremes in agroforestry systems and devise opportunities for complementary safeguard systems;
  • Establish the costs and benefits of investing in improved management systems; and
  • Develop possible implementation strategies for up- and outscaling.


  • Gather empirical evidence to determine to what degree and under what circumstances agroforestry practices and systems contribute to climate change adaptation on smallholder farms in the tropics.
  • Identify the limits of adaptation and resilience of agroforestry systems to climate change and variability.
  • Quantify vulnerabilities of farmers’ livelihoods to current and future climate risks by learning from community and farmer practices.
  • Identify how social safety nets and financial institutions can improve the resilience of agroforestry systems to climate shocks.
  • Develop robust adaptation strategies and climate smart practices with special focus on agroforestry systems and derive possible transition pathways.
  • Provide technical support to development and policy initiatives, including NAPAs, CAADP, etc.
  • Develop multi-institutional project designs to improve smallholder climate resilience and adaptive capacity.
  • Contribute to fundraising and knowledge dissemination.
  • Engage with and develop the capacity of partners in research, knowledge sharing and facilitating adoption
  • Prepare reports, guidelines and scientific papers
  • Other responsibilities as may arise in the course of time


  • PhD in social sciences (economy; development studies; environmental management; etc.)
  • Practical development experience in tropical developing countries
  • Solid background in resource economics, environmental and ecological economics, environmental policy and development studies, ideally in the context of smallholder farming systems
  • Demonstrated experience in gathering and analysing quantitative and qualitative socioeconomic data through household surveys, focus group discussions, interviews and other participatory approaches
  • Experience in proposal development and fund raising
  • Ability to communicate effectively with stakeholders, including smallholders, private sector and policy makers
  • Good publication record
  • Very Good verbal and written English skills, knowledge of another language commonly used in Africa, Asia or Latin America is an advantage
  • Agent-based or household modelling experience desirable

How to apply

Applications for the position must include:

  • A cover letter illustrating your suitability for the position against the listed requirements and salary expectations
  • A detailed curriculum vitae
  • The names and addresses of three referees, including telephone, fax numbers and email addresses.

All correspondence should be addressed to the Human Resources Unit, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), PO Box 30677, Nairobi, Kenya OR via email: and should indicate “Social Scientist / Adaptation Specialist” on their application letters and email submissions.

Applications will be considered until 31 March 2012 or until a suitable candidate is identified and selected.Please note that only short-listed applicants meeting the above requirements will be contacted.

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