American Institutes for Research Commits to the East Africa Region with New Kenya Office

Nairobi, Kenya – The American Institutes for Research (AIR) opened a new office in Kenya today, demonstrating its deep commitment to conducting research and providing technical assistance in the East Africa region. AIR staff were joined by local and regional leaders for a grand opening event at the new office in the Westlands area of Nairobi. 

Kenya office opening

“In East Africa, there is a growing desire to improve education, health, workforce, and economic opportunities as a way to strengthen communities and improve lives,” said AIR President and CEO Jessica Heppen. “We are doing more than opening an office today: AIR is making a commitment to be partners with the leaders and citizens of the region to increase opportunities and create a better, more equitable world for all.” 

Pictured, from left to right, Alex Kinoti (USAID), David Seidenfeld (AIR), Christine Kiecha (AIR), Jessica Heppen (AIR) Emily Achieng' Akuno (Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University), and Makini Nyanteh (AIR).

The new office will house 40 AIR staff members and will serve as a hub for the institution’s current and future work in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and other countries in the region. That work includes:  

  • Studying efforts to address Vitamin A deficiencies in Tanzania by promoting production and consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. 
  • Conducting third-party monitoring for USAID’s Afya Uwazi project to ensure medicines and other health commodities are reaching areas where they are needed. 
  • Exploring linkages between socioeconomic indicators and climate change in East Africa. 
  • Supporting communications and dissemination for USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which informs humanitarian responses in the world’s most food insecure regions through evidence-driven analysis. 
  • Evaluating USAID’s East Africa Region Environment program activities, to inform the design of future natural resource management in the region. 
  • Determining lessons and direction for scalability and replicability of UNICEF’s Nutritional Improvements Through Cash and Health Education program 

The Kenya office will also be the home to partnerships with regional universities and other organizations to ensure the relevance of AIR’s research and technical assistance work and help train the next generation of social and behavioral scientists. 

“The challenges in East Africa are unique and complex and, for that reason, it is imperative that we work with those that are closest to the problems we are trying to address and understand the needs of those who live and work in these communities,” said Christine Kiecha, managing director of AIR’s Kenya office.

The AIR Pipeline Partnership Program—funded by the AIR Equity Initiative—has partnerships with the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and the University of Nairobi that provide education, training, and mentoring for students who are entering social and behavioral science fields. AIR also has growing partnerships with Kenyatta University and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, both in Kenya, to collaborate on research and education. 

“AIR wants to serve as a catalyst to increase the development and use of timely, relevant evidence and help grow the social and behavioral science fields in East Africa,” said Ashu Handa, an AIR Institute Fellow based in the Kenya office. “We look forward to building on our current partnerships and developing new relationships that will be beneficial in the future.” 

About AIR
Established in 1946, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and the workforce. AIR's work is driven by its mission to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world. With headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, AIR has offices across the U.S. and abroad. For more information, visit