Dr Alex Awiti
Vice Provost, East Africa
Prior to assuming the role of Vice Provost, Dr Awiti was the Founding Director of the East Africa Institute (EAI) of Aga Khan University, a regional platform for policy research, performance and public engagement, which focuses on the consequential drivers of socio-economic, environmental and institutional change.
Prior to joining the Aga Khan University, Dr 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, and Professor Cheryl Palm, leading soil scientist and agronomist.
Dr Awiti began his research, academic and policy career over 20 years ago at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi. Dr 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. He is also one of the leading thinkers on Africa’s agricultural transformation, advocating for a people-and-ecology-centred transformation.
Dr Awiti is a transdisciplinary scholar, whose research intersects agriculture, ecology, education, society, population health policy and the economy. As one of Kenya’s leading public intellectuals he has written over 650 opinion articles published in leading Kenyan newspapers and international publications, including the International Policy Digest and The Conversation. He was also speaker at the TEDx Nairobi 2013 and is a regular and commentator on public policy issues on news networks in East Africa and international media such as CNBC, CGTN, Bloomberg News and Al Jazeera TV.
Under his leadership, the EAI conducted one of the most authoritative, widely cited studies on East African youth. Country reports for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania released between January and October 2016 have generated unprecedented engagement, with over 400 news stories, feature articles, and opinion commentary in both print and electronic media. This study has brought the youth issue to the centre of discourse about East Africa’s present and future.
Dr Awiti is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at University of the Fraser Valley in BC, Canada. He was also recently appointed as a Governor of the Board of Governors of the of IDRC (International Development Research Centre), a Crown corporation of the Canadian government that funds research in developing countries.
Dr Awiti is an alumnus of the CSC Leaders program, a global leadership program for exceptional senior leaders. He is an Associate Professor and holds a PhD in Ecosystems Ecology from University of Nairobi.