MSc Fellowships (2 positions) on manure greenhouse gas emissions from livestock systems in Ethiopia (Closing date: 15 April 2019) .

MSc Fellowships (2 positions) on manure greenhouse gas emissions from livestock systems in Ethiopia (Closing date: 15 April 2019) .

The international Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks two motivated MSc students for interdisciplinary natural and social science research under a BMZ-funded project entitled “Programme for Climate-Smart Livestock (PCSL)”. The Project focuses on increasing the three main pillars of climate-smart agriculture: (1) increased agricultural productivity, (2) mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, and (3) adaptation of livestock systems to climate change. One aim of the project is to characterize and baseline greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and nutrient losses in a variety of livestock systems to identify potentials and constraints for climate smart agriculture.

The offered position will investigate livestock manure management characteristics in existing production systems with a major focus on ruminants (small and large) and will collect data required for establishing accurate Tier 2 GHG emissions baselines from manure management across different agroecological zones for the duration of one year. For this, a standardized protocol that has previously been applied in Kenya and Tanzania was updated and will be used, following its adaptation to the regional context.

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 centers dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional of country offices in East, South and Southern Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa.


Dietary changes and growing populations in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are leading to major increases in the 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 dietary protein intake. Across East Africa, livestock production is predominantly managed by smallholder farmers. 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.

At the same time, livestock is a major contributor to anthropogenic GHG emissions. It is estimated that livestock-related GHG emissions represent over 70 % of total agriculture emissions in developing countries. In more detail, GHG emission intensities (i.e. GHG emissions per unit of product) are assumed to be much higher than found in productions systems in developed countries. The increasing growth in demand for livestock products is an urgent concern as this in turn could result in an increase in GHG emissions. Implementing mechanisms to remunerate smallholders to increase productivity and simultaneously contributing to reduced GHG emissions intensities requires accurate baseline data on GHG emissions from livestock in the first place and national policy support and engagement of the private sector in a second step. 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 emission contributions and vital role in household incomes and food security. However, the lack of reliable estimates on GHG emissions associated to different management practices and productivity levels for different systems is a barrier to the implementation of LEDS.

Scope of the MSc assignment

The MSc students will directly contribute to Activity A1 “Setting up GHG emissions baselines and performance indicators for adaptation interventions” of the PCSL project. Activity A1 aims particularly at generating accurate Tier 2 GHG emissions baselines for livestock systems, which are necessary as a first step towards establishing and evaluating mitigation options from livestock production while also enhancing the productivity and sustainability of livestock systems. The MSc students will contribute to this by undertaking the following research activities:

  • Categorize the targeted livestock manure management systems currently used in the dry Afar region as well as in the highlands around Debre Berhan (household size, number and type of animals, type of manure management, purpose of manure, etc.);
  • on-farm data on manure chemistry and quantity (quantity of manure stored on the farms, manure concentration of nitrogen, volatile solids and ash);
  • Determine the effect of seasonality (i.e. dry versus wet season) on manure properties and management;
  • Identify challenges and possible strategies for sustainable improvement of manure management;
  • Collate and analyze the collected data under supervision of ILRI supervisors;
  • Apply rigorous data quality control and data quality assurance measures.

Qualifications and skills

The ideal candidate for either of the position:

  • has obtained an honors Bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences, biochemistry, natural resource management, animal production, rangeland management, or similar.
  • is enrolled in an accredited MSc program in an Ethiopian university and is near completion of coursework.
  • has experience in East Africa and/or with agricultural production systems in developing countries.
  • is willing to work extended hours in the field and has flexibility and a high degree of independence if required.
  • is familiar with statistical software such as SPSS or R, has in-depth knowledge of Microsoft Excel for data entry, and knows common practices of data quality control and data quality assurance.
  • is able to supervise and train research assistants and provide necessary advice, while simultaneously working together with another joint MSc student focusing on estimating animal GHG emissions.
  • exhibits excellent written and spoken English. Ability to converse in Amharic or a local language is a major asset. Furthermore, ability to effectively communicate in a multicultural context, present findings to diverse audiences, and support facilitation of multi-stakeholder workshops are key requirements.
  • has good ability to integrate into an international interdisciplinary team of researcher and practitioners and ability to collaborate with social scientists in a multidisciplinary project.

ILRI Program: Sustainable Livestock Systems, Mazingira Centre

Project Location: ILRI Ethiopia

Duration: 1- year

Terms of appointment: ILRI will offer a competitive 12-month stipend to cover living expenses in the project location, medical insurance and will cover research expenses. The fellowship will NOT cover tuition or any other university fees. The successful candidate will be supervised jointly by an ILRI scientist and the university/academic supervisor. The ideal candidate will be able to develop a full proposal under guidance of the university supervisor and the ILRI Mazingira Centre supervisor. It is anticipated that fieldwork will begin from May/June 2019.

How to Apply:

Applications must include a CV and a motivation letter and should be made to the Director, People and Organizational Development through ILRI’s recruitment portal on or before 15th April 2019. The position title and reference number SLS/MSc PCSL ETH GF/06/2019 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the cover letter.

The applications will be evaluated, and a select number of candidates will be invited for both written and oral interview.

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

ILRI is an equal opportunity employer

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