How we work

Our approach and philosophy

The Jameel Observatory is underpinned by the belief that local actors best understand the local context and the barriers to change, but that solutions to overcome those barriers can draw on global expertise.

The Observatory therefore has a strong focus on inclusive dialogue with local and other actors to understand local constraints and to begin to co-create change scenarios and solutions.

It emphasises the need to incorporate local as well as scientific knowledge to prepare and act in advance of environmental shocks.

We contend that while co-creation of solutions is challenging and, at times, messy, the evolving solutions are more likely to be locally owned and managed and survive into the future.


Our work is guided by four key principles:

  1. Complementary – we aim to fill gaps. We avoid duplicating or competing with existing initiatives
  2. Collaborative – all our work involves working in partnership, especially with actors local to our target locations. We look to include diversity of skills, culture and perspective in our partnerships
  3. Solutions-focused – we look for leading edge and applicable innovation, drawing on state-of-the art data science and evidence to support more effective decision making. We acknowledge that generating data solutions is not, in itself, sufficient but that the interfaces between data, decisions and action are critical
  4. Impact driven – we start by imagining desired impacts and outcomes and what behaviours need to change to achieve these. We then make sure that all our activity supports that behaviour change

Our ‘land’ to ‘lab’ model

Launching in Kenya and East Africa, our global community of practice unites data, science and practice for food-secure and resilient lives and livelihoods in drylands worldwide.

Comprising individuals from diverse organisations working in this area, the community of practice has critical roles in identifying, discussing and prioritising key questions and challenges, formulating and reviewing options and solutions and contributing to their application.

The image below illustrates the cycle by which questions are prioritised, taken up by the wider network in the form of ‘impact’ collaborations or research projects and then implemented.

This process of research, learning and innovation with partners is characterized by product co-creation among diverse solution seekers and problem solvers, purposeful collaboration taking advantage of collective expertise and exploiting synergies, capacity building to maximize data and evidence use, proactive community involvement and empowerment giving voice and valuing indigenous knowhow, as well as targeted communication and engagement to reinforce delivery and uptake of products.


Save the children