Edinburgh Global

The Jameel Observatory's first year

More than a year has passed since the launch of the Jameel Observatory for Food Security Early Action, in September 2021.

The project is an ambitious collaboration between:

  • The University of Edinburgh Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

  • Save the Children UK
  • The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)
  • The International Livestock Research Institute
  • Community Jameel

The core idea is to convene evidence and expertise to tackle environmental shocks in drylands, such as drought.

By combining the knowledge of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities and other local organisations with innovations in data science and humanitarian action, they expect that communities they work with in East Africa will become more resilient and better able to prepare for and overcome the effects of environmental shocks.

The first year

The first year saw significant work to establish the partnership, secure leadership and develop the Observatory’s research workstreams

The partnership updated the evidence base on anticipatory actions and responses to the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa:

  • Anticipatory action to mitigate drought-induced crises: Learning from Kenya and Somalia. Tracking early action in response to the current crisis in the Horn of Africa, this report collated information on the various forecasts and warnings that were published and tracked actions taken by humanitarian actors.

Read the report (Jameel Observatory website)

  • Dangerous Delay 2 – the Cost of Inaction. Published by Save the Children and Oxfam with support from Jameel Observatory, the Dangerous Delay 2 report assessed changes in forecasting and action in the past ten years. Despite an improved response to the 2017 East Africa drought when widespread famine was averted, national and global responses are largely too slow and too limited.

Read the report (Jameel Observatory website)

The emerging ‘community of practice’ are mapping and defining a core action research agenda based on:

  • Coordinating for effective early action
  • Financing for effective early action
  • Data for effective early action
  • Trust in data and evidence for effective early action
  • Effective early action at local/community level.

The refined agenda is being turned into several ‘impact collaboration’ projects that bring together researchers, innovators and practitioners to deliver tested solutions that increase the resilience of dryland communities and the ability of organisations to predict and prepare for shocks.

The Observatory convened a series of short virtual ‘mini dialogues’ which covered:

  • The definition and timing of anticipatory action to food crises in East Africa
  • Enablers and blockers for effective anticipatory and forecast-based action in East Africa
  • Data-driven early warning, prediction and analysis for well-coordinated and directed food security action in East Africa
  • Integrating local and community-based knowledge to advance early warning and anticipatory action on food security in the Horn of Africa
  • Livestock as pathways to food-secure and resilient ecosystems in the Horn of Africa
  • De-risking, financial security and safety nets for more resilient and food-secure communities in the Horn of Africa

Expanding research network

The Jameel Observatory are expanding their research network by recruiting PhD students and post-doctoral researchers.

John Mutua is employing earth observation approaches to better understand livestock feed availability, a crucial metric in pastoral areas.

Improving estimates of livestock diet composition in Kenya (Jameel Observatory website)

About John Mutua (Jameel Observatory website)

George Tsitati will be looking at local responses to crisis events in East Africa and how these can be better linked to international efforts.

Post-doctoral fellowship opportunities in Kenya

Two post-doctoral fellows are currently being recruited in Kenya with the Supporting Pastoralism and Agriculture in Recurrent and Protracted Crises (SPARC) project.

ILRI Vacancy: Post-Doctoral Fellow- social scientist on humanitarian relief and resilience programming (ILRI jobs website)

ILRI Vacancy: Post-Doctoral Fellow- social scientist on triggers for anticipatory action (ILRI jobs website)


Jameel Observatory website

 Jameel Observatory Twitter account 

View reports and documents

The Jameel Observatory's reports and documents are published in our open access repository:

University of Edinburgh repositories