Post-Doctoral Scientist – Sustainable Livestock Systems

International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
Full time Staff

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit a Post-Doctoral Scientist – Sustainable Livestock Systems to develop and implement a range of activities aimed at developing evidence around the impacts of public and market based development interventions and support the improvement of and scaling out of a crowdsourcing platform.

ILRI works to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock. It is the only one of 15 CGIAR research centres dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional or country offices and projects in East, South and Southeast Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa.

The position

This position will be part of the Index Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) team as it works to support sustainable livelihood options for dryland populations. The team’s original research for development agenda focused on mitigating the negative effects of drought on pastoralists by developing and scaling index insurance for pastoralists in the Horn of Africa. The IBLI team has recently added “improving access to information from and in remote, data-scarce regions” as a second development agenda. Currently, efforts associated with this new agenda rely on exploiting new technologies, particularly those afforded by increased use of and access too mobile phone networks, to collect high resolution local information more cost effectively, processing those data applying machine-learning technics and others data application innovations, often by integrating them with additional sources of data, and then packing the information in a range of suitable formats for widespread information (e.g., to policy makers, pastoralist, commercial service providers).

The postdoc filling this position will support ongoing projects in both agendas and work with our team as we identify new opportunities to address information scarcities. Key activities include the following.

  • The postdoc will help to develop and implement a range of activities aimed at developing evidence around the impacts of public and market based development interventions, including cash transfers, IBLI, and graduation programs.
  • The postdoc will support the improvement of and scaling out of a crowdsourcing platform that currently collects information on livestock markets. Scaling includes improving the usability of the platform, scaling it out to new markets, and piloting the collection of other types of data (e.g., waterpoint and rangeland conditions, disease outbreaks, incidence of cattle rustling). Furthermore, the postdoc must have an enthusiasm for working with ICT solutions for development, a keen interest in the data collected by the platform to lead research drawing on the data, and the skills to engage with partner organizations to develop a sustainable model for the platform.
  • The postdoc will also support activities related to the IBLI agenda, which include but are not restricted to supporting our agenda of improving the sustainability of the business models used by IBLI underwriters in the region, and efforts to better understand the constraints faced by pastoralists in the Horn of Africa.

The position is a research and implementation position, which means that the individual filling the position will be expected to develop research ideas, help to implement them, and publish scholarly articles as well as communication outputs targeting non-academic partners. Furthermore, ILRI’s research for development approach necessitates engaging with local stakeholders and policy makers.


  • Lead and contribute to the design and implementation of experiments and targeted surveys to generate relevant data for impact assessments, hypothesis-testing, participatory engagement, and other analysis required for supporting, refining or expanding the agenda.
  • Lead and co-author papers for peer-reviewed publication and support the broader dissemination of the message through research and policy briefs and other outreach materials
  • Contribute to the development of successful grant proposals related to the team and broader program agenda
  • Contribute to strengthening existing partnerships and building new and innovative partnerships for research and development
  • Supervise research associates as required
  • Work with pastoralists, their representations and other key stakeholders to improve uptake of some of the technologies/innovations developed under this program
  • Contribute to the geographical expansion of the IBLI program, develop its stream of complementary services and related research, and help leverage and assess digital and mobile technology for improved service provision in the drylands


  • A PhD in Agricultural Economics, Development Economics, Public Policy or any related field requiring a high degree of skill in quantitative analysis
  • At least 4 years of experience working in the field of development
  • Track record writing academic journal articles
  • Strong statistics background with experience using statistics packages
  • Experience working in Africa and willingness to travel throughout Africa and work in difficult field environments

Additional preferred skills:

  • Experience using big data approaches to classification, android application development and SQL database management
  • Competency in a language widely spoken in Africa other than English

Post location: The position will be based in Nairobi, Kenya

Position level: Post-doctoral level.

Duration: 3 years with the possibility of renewal, contingent upon individual performance and continued funding.

Benefits: ILRI offers a competitive salary and benefits package which includes medical insurance, life insurance and allowances for: education, housing, home leave, and annual holiday entitlement of 30 days + public holidays.


Applicants should send a cover letter and CV expressing their interest in the position, what they can bring to the role and the names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience o the Director, People and Organizational Development through our recruitment portal on or before 29 December 2017. The position title and reference number: PD/SLS/11/2017 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the online application.

We thank all applicants for their interest in working for 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 website at

To find out more about working at ILRI visit our website at

ILRI is an equal opportunity employer.

Closing date: 
29th December 2017