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Director, East African Institute, Aga Khan University

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 extractive resources.

Before his appointment as the director of the EAI, Awiti co-led the design for a 21st century undergraduate science program for the Faculty of Arts and Science of Aga Khan University. The curriculum is founded on a liberal arts education framework.

Prior to joining the Aga Khan University, Awiti was a postdoctoral fellow at the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York. He was also an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He worked under the mentorship of Jeffery D. Sachs, world-renowned professor of Sustainable Development and Health Policy and Management.

Awiti began his research, academic and policy career 17 years ago at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi. Awiti and colleagues pioneered novel approaches for rapid diagnosis of land health.

Under his leadership, the EAI conducted one of the most authoritative studies on East African youth. The Kenya Youth Report released January 18, 2016 has generated unprecedented engagement, with over 60 new stories, feature articles, and opinion commentary in both print and electronic media. This study has brought the Kenyan youth issue to the centre of the debate about Kenya’s present and future.

Awiti has authored numerous scholarly articles and technical reports on soil health, climate change, education, biodiversity and resilience, natural resources policy, poverty and rural development

As a public intellectual, Awiti maintains an active blog (, Twitter, Facebook accounts and as one of Kenya’s leading public intellectuals he has written over 500 opinion articles published in leading Kenyan newspapers and international publications, including International Policy Digest.

Mr. Awiti holds a PhD in Ecosystems Ecology from University of Nairobi and is an alumnus of the prestigious Earth Institute post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University in New York.


  • –present
    Director, East African Institute, Ecosystems Ecologist and sustainable development, Aga Khan University


  • 2006 
    Nairobi University, PhD