PhD 1: Multi-level assessment of water stress and institutional dynamics in the water-climate-conflict nexus


Host institution: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Principal supervisor: Prof. Jampel Dell'Angelo
Co-supervisor: Prof. Aaron Wolf
Non-academic co-supervisor: Dominic May Om
Application deadline: 24 May 2020
Expected starting date: before 15 October 2020
Duration: 3 years


Hydro-climatic stress represents a strong threat to global and local water security. In many countries in the Global South water conflicts are on the rise. Different social actors compete over limited freshwater resources. These socio-hydrological challenges produce conflict dynamics in certain instances while cooperative responses in others. A country that is particularly affected by hydro-climatic stress and is very prone to water conflicts is Myanmar. Very little research has been conducted on water conflicts and institutional adaptation in Myanmar, which is a country with strong need for policy interventions and development of water governance best practices. Policy research will be conducted on multiple levels, from local to national to transboundary while specific cases of water conflicts in the country will be studied from a socio-hydrological perspective. This research has a strong potential for both novel academic publications and for actionable outcomes and policy impact.

This PhD position will:
  1. Identify which institutional conditions promote cooperative water stress mitigation;
  2. Study how national and international institutional dynamics enable or impede local or national responses to water stress;
  3. Investigate potential mismatches between hydrological conditions and institutional and governance responses in water stressed contexts (main focus on Myanmar);
  4. Identify inconsistencies across different nested action arena, from the global to the local level, in terms of water conflict resolution mechanism development and implementation;
  5. Reconsider the role of cooperation and conflict based on socio-hydrological indicators that highlight issues of environmental distributional injustice.
Expected results:
  1. Develop a robust understanding of how institutions interact at multiple levels to address socio-hydrological stress;
  2. Provide insights and characterization of the rising water conflict socio-environmental dynamics in Myanmar, both locally and regionally (transboundary level);
  3. Create a new set of socio-hydrological indicators to evaluate water stress impacts based on principles of environmental justice that consider dynamics of unequal distribution of burdens and responsibilities;
  4. Feedback and policy recommendations to international and transboundary river organizations involved in water stress mitigation and water conflict resolutions mechanisms.
About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 24,500 students. We employ more than 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We seek
  • Above-average MSc (or equivalent degree) in Environmental Policy, Environmental Science, Water Resources Management, or related fields
  • Knowledge of Burmese would be considered a strong asset
  • A commitment to academic excellence with a track record of high impact research
  • Proven skills in executing empirical research in challenging contexts
  • Capacity to work independently and as part of a team
  • Examples of high-quality written work, such as a journal paper or equivalent
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills to work with multiple stakeholders
Eligibility criteria*
  • You must – at the date of recruitment – have obtained the MSc degree entitling you to embark on a doctorate
  • You must – at the date of recruitment – be within the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and not have a doctoral degree
  • Mobility rule: you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation you are applying for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

*Please make sure you comply with the eligibility criteria before applying. You need to be able to provide documentation proving your eligibility for recruitment. You can read the full description of eligibility criteria in the Information Note for ITN Fellows.


Prof. Jampel Dell'Angelo
Assistant professor of Water Governance & NEWAVE Principal Investigator
Institute of Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands

Prof. Aaron Wolf
Professor, Geogrpahy in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences
Oregon State University, USA

Dominic May Om
Lead of K'cho Land Development Association (COLDA), Myanmar

Source Link:

Water shortages in upper Myanmar
Myanmar Water Journal - April 2020


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