MSCA-PF 2023 CALL: Drought effects on urban green cooling potential in African cities (DECAF)

Job description

We hereby invite top-class researchers of any nationality, interested in developing a collaborative application for an EU-funded Marie Sklodowska Curie Action Postdoctoral Fellowship (MSCA-PF-2023) project, to conduct research at VITO and its partners for a period of 1-2 years starting in 2024.

The competitive fellowship opportunities are 100% funded and include living and mobility allowances.

MSCA-PF 2023 information

The successful candidate will primarily work on the Marie Curie EU funded project, and she/he will be integrated in the VITO Research Group RMA/CLIM (Climate Impacts), by taking part in regular meetings and discussion groups. The researcher will be introduced in the team’s regional and international networks.

Successful candidates will be supervised by Koen De Ridder (, Senior Research Associate, and Niels Souverijns (, Research Associate, both working in the field of urban climate (change) services, modelling and monitoring, with input from other RMA/CLIM team members.

Target start date

The EU informs the results on the MSCA-PF applications in February 2024. Successful candidates are expected to be available to start within the following two months and no later than summer 2024.

Fellowship description

Context and research challenge:
Climate change is projected to cause a drastic increase in the occurrence and magnitude of extreme temperatures in Africa, resulting in deadly heatwaves. Cities are particularly exposed, because of the urban heat island phenomenon. The impact of extreme heat on sectors such as health, labour productivity and infrastructure, together with the vulnerability and the projected massive population growth of African urban societies, requires the urgent development and implementation of adaptation measures. A simple but effective measure is the implementation of green infrastructure, e.g. the planting of trees or agroforestry. However, African cities often experience distinct dry seasons and urban drought might impact the efficiency of these adaptation measures. The impacts of droughts on green infrastructure are currently highly under-researched, even though such information is of key importance when assessing their cooling potential.


Based on advanced meter-scale modelling with VITO’s UrbClim model and participatory measurements, the postdoc fellow will:
• Investigate the cooling potential of (maintaining) green infrastructure in an African city (Niamey, Niger) and their efficiency with respect to drought conditions. Parameters that will be investigated are tree type, soil moisture & texture, but also conservation initiatives such as irrigation, compost application for moisture retention, among others. This will be obtained using on-site measurements of hydrology, heat stress and urban infrastructure.
• Develop an extension of the meter-scale heat stress module in the UrbClim model to allow for more detailed characteristics of urban green infrastructure & heat stress assessments. This can be validated using the data from the measurement campaigns.
• Obtain a cost-benefit analysis of the impact of implementing and maintaining green infrastructure on health, labour productivity and infrastructure.
Throughout the research, the postdoc fellow will be guided by the envisioned application of providing policy support to the development of suitable climate adaptation measures in cities, at the same time making VITO’s urban climate services more competitive and efficiently applicable in contract research.
With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing a competitive MSCA-PF proposal.


We will build on existing collaborations with the African climate centre ACMAD and/or the University of Niamey (Department of Hydrometeorology), both of which are based in Niamey (Niger). Prof. Dr. Ousmane Seidou (University of Ottawa) is a relevant expert, being a hydrological engineer originating from Niger. In addition, for the participatory aspects (mobilisation of community participants), we will engage with the City of Niamey (Department of Environment and Landscape Planning). The CLIM team has several ongoing collaborations with the above institutions / partners, in which the proposed fellowship will be firmly embedded.

Deadline application to VITO
Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, as soon as possible and no later than Friday 14 April 2023 17h Brussels time.
Check the main eligibillity criteria: Marie Sklodowska-Curie | VITO.
Further information can be obtained from Niels Souverijns by e-mail:

Deadline MSCA-PF 2023
Wednesday 13 September 2023 17h Brussels time.

Job requirements

We invite applicants to propose a more detailed and focused research approach within the scope of this MSCA-PF Fellowship as a part of their application. We are primarily looking for experienced researchers who wish to use this period as an opportunity to further develop their research and skills, and to develop longer-term research collaborations with VITO and other institutions conducting research in the field.

The candidates as in principle must be eligible for a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship – please refer to the conditions to be set-out in the Horizon Europe MSCA-PF-2023 Work Programme, including taking into account the new MSCA Green Charter principles.

The following assets will be advantageous:

  • An excellent track record in research, necessary for being able to develop a competitive Marie Curie Fellowship application;
  • Already published relevant research work in prestigious scientific journals;
  • An open and cooperation-oriented nature, but with strong abilities for independent research work;
  • Highly proficient in spoken and written English.


Initially, we offer assistance in developing competitive Marie Curie Individual Fellowship proposals.

Then, to successful applicants to the Marie Curie programme, we offer:

  • An exciting opportunity at VITO, the independent Flemish research organisation driven by the major global challenges. Our goal? To accelerate the transition to a sustainable world;
  • Participation in a dynamic professional research & innovation community;
  • Flexible working conditions;
  • An inclusive and friendly work environment;
  • On-boarding assistance and other services.