PhD Governing Water and Sanitation in Uganda: a global-to-local study

"Governing synergies and trade-offs with SDG6 in Uganda: a global to local study of Water and Sanitation in Uganda"

Together with another PhD candidate, you will study the role governance mechanisms for cross-level and cross-sector alignment in addressing trade-offs and creating synergies between SDGs in Water and Sanitation policies and projects in Uganda. This PhD project takes a global-to-local approach, taking the actions of development actors at the global and international level as a starting point and tracing how their actions affect SDG interactions at the local level (paying relatively more attention to policy coherence for development through mechanisms of inter-donor alignment and inter-departmental alignment).

The focus is in this PhD project is on water and sanitation (SDG6) and their interactions with health (SDG3), energy (SDG7), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), and food security (SDG2) in informal settlements. The water and sanitation sector has been dominating the international aid and development agendas for a long time in Uganda. Taking water and sanitation as a starting point may unravel vulnerabilities around access to other basic resources like energy and food. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, this case will be studied from a ‘global to local perspective’. In parallel another PhD candidate in Uganda will cover the ‘local to global perspective’ and both PhD candidates will be supported by a Postdoc and 3 supervisors.

The research problem addressed is the lack of alignment in multiple SDG governance between public and private parties; donors, other donors and recipients, and between governmental departments. The project will investigate alignment mechanisms between public and private actors at different governance levels, in the context of a shared system of rules, recognised by the international development community. The key question is how mechanisms of cross-level and cross-sector alignment enable development actors to address trade-offs and build synergies between SDG6 and other SDGs in Uganda?

We ask

  • A higher education degree equivalent to a European MSc degree
  • Academic background in environmental sciences, policy and governance studies
  • Proficiency in the English language
  • Strong academic research and writing skills
  • Proven track record of academic achievement in courses and thesis work
  • Experience with social scientific research methods such as interviews and document analysis
  • Affinity with water and sanitation issues in an international development context
  • Familiarity with the case study context and local language(s) is an advantage

We offer

  • A four year fully funded PhD position at MakSPH, a leading environmental health institute in Kampala, Uganda.
  • Enrollment in the PhD programme of the Wageningen School of Social Sciences at Wageningen University, including PhD courses, library access and ICT services
  • Supervision by experts in the field at the Wageningen Center of Sustainability Governance
  • Three research stays of 6 months at Wageningen University, including a living allowance on top of the MakSPH remuneration
  • The opportunity to develop and graduate as a researcher, supported by a vibrant international community of researchers and stakeholders linked to the “Governing SDG interactions” project

The selected PhD candidate will be appointed for a 4-year PhD position at Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) in Uganda and registered for the PhD Programme at Wageningen University (The Netherlands). Supervision will be provided by Prof. Simon Bush and dr. Bas van Vliet from the Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University, and Dr. Richard K. Mugambe from MakSPH.

How to apply

Applications should consist of the following: (1) A cover letter addressed to the PhD supervisors, explaining your capability and motivation for undertaking the PhD research project (maximum 2 pages); (2) A resume, including full higher education and occupational trajectory (maximum 3 pages); (3) A concept note on how you would design the research project (maximum 1 page); and (4) Certified academic certificates and transcripts.

If you apply for more than one of the PhD positions, please indicate this clearly in your cover letter.

Applications should be sent to Wageningen University at and to Makerere University at

Applications need to be in by Friday 28 January 2022. Interviews are planned for Wednesday Thursday 23 February 2022. The intended starting date for the PhD position is 1 June 2022.

More information

For questions on the larger “Governing SDG interactions“ project, contact Art Dewulf ( For questions on this PhD position, For questions on this PhD position, contact Bas van Vliet ( or Richard Mugambe (