As part of its matchmaking approach that devises data-driven early action food security solutions for dry areas, the Jameel Observatory supports researchers looking for answers that pastoral communities can use to overcome climate changes. Observatory Students combine their academic studies with field work to produce development-oriented resources with practical applications.

Sirimon Thomas is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi.

With an academic background in Biological Sciences and a master’s degree in One Health from the Royal Veterinary College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, he brings an inter-disciplinary perspective to understanding food security and climate resilience in pastoral contexts.

He previously worked in wildlife conservation in Kenya and Gabon, focussing on human-wildlife conflict and community-led conservation. He then switched to One Health seeking a broader perspective on development challenges in sub-Saharan Africa. Most recently, he has been working in South Sudan on generating and using data to inform decision making and prioritisation in humanitarian responses.

Research focus and plans

Sirimon’s research will implement a One Health approach to understand diverse food security drivers and the factors affecting and limiting early action to mitigate food insecurity. These will include spatial and qualitative analysis of zoonotic gastrointestinal disease and network analysis of water resource access to understand spatial patterns and information flow. These One Health focussed drivers will be situated in existing socio-ecological systems frameworks to understand system behaviour around transition points to food insecurity.

This work aims to generate better understanding of socio-ecological system resilience and dynamics, food insecurity triggers and barriers to early action. Ultimately, this will facilitate better decision making by communities and external stakeholders on food insecurity mitigation and early action.

Jameel Observatory significance

Supervised by Rowan Jackson, Alan Duncan and Lisa Boden at the University of Edinburgh and Eric Fevre at ILRI in Nairobi, Sirimon’s work will integrate existing understanding of socio-ecological systems with novel insight into non-traditional drivers and inter-disciplinary One Health dynamics of food insecurity to understand and facilitate the shift from early warning to early action, as well as facilitating more comprehensive understanding of the pastoral socio-ecological systems in sub-Saharan Africa.