Alex O. Awiti is the Founding Director of the East African Institute (EAI) of Aga Khan University. The EAI is a regional platform for policy research, performance and public engagement, which focuses on the consequential drivers of socio-economic, environmental and institutional change. The EAI is currently focusing on youth, urbanization, economic growth, food systems and the extractive resources.
Prior to joining the Aga Khan University, Awiti was a postdoctoral fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University in the City of New York. He was also an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. At the Earth Institute he worked under the mentorship of Jeffery D. Sachs, professor of Sustainable Development and Health Policy and Management.
Under his leadership, the EAI conducted one of the most authoritative studies on East African youth. Country reports for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania released between January and October 2016 have generated unprecedented engagement, with over 200 news stories, feature articles, and opinion commentary in both print and electronic media. This study has brought the youth issue to the centre of the debate about East Africa’s present and future.
Awiti is a transdisciplinary scholar, whose research intersects ecology, society, population health policy and the economy. He maintains an active blog (www.envidevpolicy.org), active Twitter and Facebook accounts. As one of Kenya’s leading public intellectuals he has written over 500 opinion articles published in leading Kenyan newspapers and international publications, including the International Policy Digest. He was also speaker at the TEDx Nairobi 2013 and is a regular and incisive commentator on KTN and Al Jazeera TV.
Awiti began his research, academic and policy career over 20 years ago at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi. Awiti and colleagues pioneered novel approaches for rapid diagnosis of land health. As the head of GIS/Remote Sensing, he set up the Decision Support laboratory at ICRAF, with a focus on diagnostic surveillance of land health problems.