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Sharing Knowledge for Building Climate Resilience among Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (VERSCHOOR_DEV23CDCC)

   School of International Development

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  Prof Arjan Verschoor, Prof Stephen Dorling, Dr M Duvendack  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Climate change brings unprecedented risks for farmers in Africa 

Most sub-Saharan African farmers are smallholders and climate change poses new threats to their livelihoods: more frequent droughts and floods, greater rainfall unpredictability, new plant and livestock pests and diseases, and so on. Now is a critical time for building climate resilience among them to prevent a devastating collapse of livelihoods and food security. 

Knowledge sharing for building climate resilience 

UEA researchers are building a knowledge sharing platform for building climate resilience for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Based on current, observable trends in weather shifts and new pests and diseases, information is offered to farmers about products and services that protect against these, and information is gathered from farmers to refine knowledge of these trends and improve the products and services. 

Village agents are at the heart of the knowledge-sharing platform 

Farmers share information with village agents who are equipped with a smartphone app through which weather insurance, weather forecasts, agricultural inputs such as resilient seed, and advice on climate-smart agronomic practices is offered. 

Your PhD will help build the knowledge-sharing platform 

For a selected research site on the foothills of Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda, you would do research that helps build the platform. Your main tasks:  

  • Digest meteorological information for assisting farmers and improving weather insurance; 
  • Identify agricultural inputs suitable for changing growing conditions; 
  • Test farmers’ preferences for features of the knowledge-sharing platform; 
  • Help pilot, implement and evaluate promising design features. 

World-class research experience and skills development 

The research in Uganda will be crucial for rolling out the platform across sub-Saharan Africa. You will be part of a close-knit team consisting of specialists from academia and beyond. Beyond general research skills training, you will receive tailor-made training in your supervisors’ areas of expertise: applied meteorology, smallholders’ decision making under risk, choice experiments and impact evaluation. 

The successful candidate… 

…is somebody who would relish the challenge of combining meteorology, development economics and impact evaluation in a transdisciplinary research project. A master’s degree in one of these disciplines (2:1 or above) is required, as well as strong demonstrated research potential.

This project is part of the Critical Decade for Climate Change PhD programme, please visit for more information about the project and making an application.

The start date for this project is 1st February 2024.

Agriculture (1) Economics (10) Environmental Sciences (13) Finance (14) Food Sciences (15) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

Successful candidates will be awarded a 3 year, 8 month studentship covering tuition fees, a maintenance stipend (£18,622 per year in 2023/24) and funds to support the research project and associated training.
Applications are only open candidates who qualify for UK tuition fees.
Part-time studentship awards are subject to approval.
This project has been selected for the Critical Decade for Climate Change programme, funded by UEA and the Leverhulme Trust. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview, to be held early December 2023.
Further details of the Critical Decade programme can be found at:


Osborne, M., Lambe, F., Ran, Y., Dehmel, N., Tabacco, G. A., Balungira, J., Perez-Viana, B., Widmark, E., Holmlid, S., & Verschoor, A. (2022). Designing development interventions: The application of service design and discrete choice experiments in complex settings. World Development, 158, [105998].
Dehmel, N., Ran, Y., Osborne, M., Verschoor, A., Lambe, F., Balungira, J., Tabacco, G., Perez-Viana, B., Widmark, E., & Holmlid, S. (2021). Combining service design and discrete choice experiments for intervention design: An application to weather index insurance. MethodsX, 8, [101513].
Verschoor, A., & D'Exelle, B. (2022). Probability weighting for losses and for gains among smallholder farmers in Uganda. Theory and Decision, 92, 223-258.
Qiao, L., Wang, X., Smith, P., Fan, J., Lu, Y., Emmett, B., Li, R., Dorling, S., Chen, H., Liu, S., Benton, T. G., Wang, Y., Ma, Y., Jiang, R., Zhang, F., Piao, S., Müller, C., Yang, H., Hao, Y., ... Fan, M. (2022). Soil quality both increases crop production and improves resilience to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 12(6), 574–580.
Duvendack, M., & Mader, P. (2020). Impact of Financial Inclusion in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review of Reviews. Journal of Economic Surveys, 34(3), 594-629.

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