Capacity development

our research, learning and innovation agenda

Alongside our research, dialogue, and impact collaborations, the Observatory aims to address its agenda by building critical capacities among people working in and for the drylands, enhancing the transformative anticipatory and management capacities of pastoral communities and the agencies serving them.

Facing more frequent droughts and other environmental shocks in East Africa’s drylands, early and anticipatory actions are priorities for communities to enhance their resilience and manage uncertainties. Skilled people and effective institutions are critical to achieve this. Recognizing that diverse capacities already exist at different levels – locally, nationally and regionally – capacity development was identified by Observatory partners and collaborators as a high priority intervention to deal with complex challenges and transition towards greater resilience to shocks.

Our emphasis so far has been on early career doctoral and post-doctoral training. At our Community of Practice meeting in May 2023 we began to scope the need for other streams of capacity development, and we identified strong demand from regional stakeholders and a desire for co-creation and co-delivery of shorter training programmes.

Following an initial desk review of existing capacity development courses offered across the domains where we work, we further explored the needs expressed in meetings with four Kenyan universities in November 2023.

Arising out of these and other discussions, in late 2023 we agreed that the capacity development activities of the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action should be delivered through a ‘Dryland Futures Academy’ rooted in East Africa.

Still under early development, the initial idea is for the Academy to deliver face to face, online and blended learning through several pathways, such as:

  • A Drylands Leaders Programme – aimed at early career professionals who aim to grow their expertise on drylands and the tools that they need to be future leaders on drylands food security early action and related issues.
  • Continuing education – taught and self-study short professional and technical courses co-developed and delivered with regional institutions.
  • Academic and formal education – opportunities for individuals to advance their learning on dryland issues.
  • Community development – in which pastoralist communities share and gain livelihood and resilience building knowledge and skills.

We aim to launch the Academy in mid 2024 and we are currently (May 2024) formulating priority activities, mapping demand and existing opportunities, scoping out an educational framework and discussing modalities for content and delivery with collaborators and partners. In May 2024, we convened a workshop to start deveoping an ‘educational framework’ for the Academy.

Contact us for more information or to discuss collaboration:


Education Framework drafted for Dryland Futures Academy

In May, we brought together drylands capacity development providers and users to co-design a Dryland Futures Academy education framework

Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action to launch Drylands Academy

Announcing a Drylands Academy to build capacities, expertise and know-how for early action in East Africa