East African Institute

 The East African Institute

Why The East African Institute?

Stakeholders from the East African Community, key diplomatic missions and bilateral donor agencies, as well as the private sector, national and other think-tanks have argued during our consultations in the region that the key policy challenges that confront East Africa arise from the interaction of multiple and interdependent factors not readily addressed by traditional policy-and decision-making. Such complex challenges must be met with integrated approaches to policy research and analysis complemented by parallel capacity building and no less important, vibrant public engagement.

The senior leadership of the EAC viewed the proposed EAI, embedded within AKU as a regional university, as uniquely positioned to contribute to advancing a true East African perspective on these challenges. Our consultations with the EAC revealed an overarching concern:  the importance of exploring and supporting the evolution of an East African identity, a factor viewed by participants as a serious gap between policy and implementation within each of the nations of the Community.

The stakeholders also recognized that by virtue of its AKDN affiliation, the EAI was uniquely positioned to bring together a network of implementation agencies and thereby enhance the link between policy research and practice, thus augmenting the Institute’s relevance and impact. The EAI, in addition, will work through networks and in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders, including academia, research institutions, donors, governments, the EAC, the business community and civil society organizations.

Mission of the East African Institute

The East African Institute (EAI) of the Aga Khan University is a regional think tank designed to generate objective evidence base for policy formulation and action through integrated policy-oriented research, analysis, capacity building and public engagement.

The sustainable development challenges that confront East Africa result from the interaction of a multitude of inter-connected and independent factors. These factors pose a singular challenge to traditional sectoral policy making approaches. The EAI therefore takes an integrated and adaptive approach with a view to formulating policies in a world fraught with change and uncertainty. The EAI will focus on the following areas: health and education, agriculture and ecologically sustainable food production, biodiversity and ecosystem services and resilient and inclusive socio-economic development.

The EAI will actively seek to build collaborative networks and work in partnership with national, regional and international research institutions, think tanks and development organizations, governments, professional societies, the East African Community, local communities and civil society. 

The East African Institute is a new AKU entity serving as a regional think tank designed to undertake integrated, thematically driven research and policy analysis, capacity building and public engagement.

The mission of the EAI is to:

  1. Conduct research, policy analysis and training on social, economic, environmental and cultural challenges of the East African region;
  2. Nurture and promote innovative solutions to the socio-economic, cultural and environmental challenges of East Africa through strong partnerships, knowledge and outreach as well as advocacy and action networks;
  3. Identify, educate and nurture the human talent necessary to accomplish its mission.
  4. Develop tools for decision-making based on integrated resilience thinking;
  5. Engage civil society and other stakeholders through public fora and to disseminate the results of such engagement to the wider society.

Scope of the East African Institute

The EAI will focus on five thematic areas:

  1. Integration and Education
  2. Food Security, Climate Change and Regional Integration
  3. Population Health & Human Development (focusing on health systems, public health policy in the context of regional integration)
  4. Trans-Boundary Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (focusing on green growth in the context of economics of ecosystems and biodiversity)
  5. Regional Integration and Inclusive Economic Growth

By focusing on the above thematic issues the AKU-EAI seeks to achieve a subtle balance between short to medium term policy priorities of the East African Community and the priorities of the AKU EA and AKDN. To ensure relevance and sustained impact, it will organize forums, conferences and seminars, offer short courses and enhance public engagement and awareness with a view to ensuring the synergy essential for capacity building. The exploration of these five themes through research, policy analysis, public engagement and capacity, we believe, will quite naturally reinforce an East African identity a sense of common purpose in tackling priority issues.

Suggested Activities for 2012-2015

Regional Policy Forums:

  • Thematic policy forums will serve as a convening platform to:
  • Identify, with stakeholders and partners, priority issues for policy research, analysis and public engagement in each thematic area of the EAI;
  • Build consensus and engagement among stakeholders on the value proposition of the EAI’s approach to integrated evidence-based policy research and analysis:
    • Build strategic relationships with key individuals and institutions that are critical to the human, intellectual and financial resources needed for the EAI.
    • Convene distinguished lecture series on urgent and emerging issues relevant to the themes of the EAI
    • Training and Capacity Building (Short Courses; Policy Fellowship)

The outputs of the forums will include:

  • Publications
    • Policy papers/briefs prepared for wide circulation among key stakeholder groups;
    • Op-ed articles in leading national and regional leading newspapers and periodicals;
    • High quality forum proceedings;
    • Technical working paper series (these could be turned into case study material for use in the degree programmes).
    • Peer reviewed articles
  • Strong networks and partnerships established in the region and internationally, including productive synergies between AKU programmes and other AKDN agencies

Policy-focused Research Projects

The EAI will design and pursue funding for specific research aimed at exploring challenges and questions within the five thematic areas.  As much as possible, such projects will involve collaboration with partners representing universities, government, the private sector and civil society institutions in East Africa.

Short Courses

On the basis of the Policy Forums and additional consultations with key stakeholders, the EAI will develop and test courses and modules to build capacity at both national and regional levels on integrated and evidence-based approaches to policymaking.​​​​