Updated 03/09/22

Research projects and programs are defined and carried out jointly by IRD researchers and their East African counterparts.

In East Africa, research is primarily focused on:

  • environment,
  • health,
  • social sciences.

Each of these themes gathers different long-term research projects involving various research stakeholders.

An aquaculture farm cage during feeding.

© IRD - Anne Lemahieu

An aquaculture farm cage during feeding.


Experiments on mosquitoes in La Réunion.

© IRD - Thibaut Vergoz

Experiments on mosquitoes in La Réunion.


Digital uses in Ghana.


Digital uses in Ghana.



© IRD - Hyacinthe Lesecq

Pirogue à Madagascar.

Completed projects

  • AnemiNut - Fight against nutritional anemia

    AnemiNut - Fight against nutritional anemia


    Young team associated with IRD (JEAI)

    February 2017 - December 2019



    Anemia affects a quarter of the world's population, but its etiology according to different contexts remains poorly understood. In Ethiopia, 56% of children under 5 and 23% of women are anemic (EDHS, 2016). In addition to anemia due to repeated infections, Inadequate intakes of iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and folate can all contribute to nutritional anemia. A better understanding of the etiology of anemia is required to develop more effective prevention strategies. In light of the potential side effects that some micronutrient interventions may have (i.e. iron supplementation in malaria endemic areas), alternative solutions using food-based approaches may also be needed.

    In this context, a new research team (AnemiNut) combining different skills in nutrition, food consumption and microbial ecology was launched at the Center for Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Addis Ababa. It aims at better understanding the etiology of anemia in the Oromo region, in order to design sustainable dietary strategies for controlling micronutrient deficiencies in anemia.

    Main activities

    • Food consumption survey of 200 women of child-bearing age (19-45 years) in the Oromo region
    • Identification of the most consumed dishes (frequency and quantities) and sampling for analysis of iron, vitamin B12 and folates
    • Blood samples collection from a sample of anemic women to identify the biological parameters related to anemia
    • Manufacture and acceptability test of injera obtained by fermentation with bacterial strains selected for their capacity of synthesis of folates and Vitamin B12 in collaboration with the FolEA project


    Scientific coordination: Claire Mouquet-Rivier (UMR Nutripass, IRD) in collaboration with Christèle Humblot, UMR Nutripass posted in UAA.



    For further information

  • Mikoko - Conservation and resilience of Kenyan mangrove forests

    Mikoko - Conservation and resilience of Kenyan mangrove forests


    French solidarity fund for innovative projects (FSPI)

    January 2019 - December 2020



    Today, mangrove forests are threatened by rising sea levels, climate change, the development of coastal industry and agriculture. It is estimated between 1985 and 2009, Kenyan mangrove lost more than 20% of their surface, mainly because of human activity. "Mangrove forests are key elements of adaptation and mitigation of climate change" underlines H.E. Mme Aline Kuster-Ménager, French ambassador in Kenya.

    The Kenya Forest Service (KFS), CIRAD and IRD are launching a project to contain this trend and to respond to the Kenyan government's challenge of managing the mangrove.

    Capacity building

    The focus is on strengthening the capacity of the Kenyan government to address this issue, in particular the KFS agents. "We are building on an online collaborative platform, where all project stakeholders will be able to share their information on coastal mangrove and its condition. The platform will also include photos to learn more about mangroves, a database of flora and mangrove inventory data. It will be developed little by little", says David Williamson, IRD representative in East Africa.

    "The aim is to strengthen the research, education and training capacities on this subject", says Juliana Prosperi, a botanist at Cirad. "Through regular workshops and the creation of a training program, we wish to improve the knowledge on these unique ecosystems. We also want to involve coastal populations in our research by developing an app that would allow them to identify forest species and send their information". Capacity building will enable the project to be sustainable and involve all stakeholders.

    Mangrove forests, actors of the "blue economy"

    In addition to the many ecological services provided by mangrove forests, they also have a high economic value. In particular, they provide fish, crustaceans and shellfish for artisanal and commercial fishermen in the region. In Kenya, up to 90% of all the fish landed at local markets comes from mangrove creeks, estuaries and nearby shallow waters. This number is decreasing due to the retreat of mangrove forests.

    The diversity of plants and animals is also an important asset for ecotourism. Bird watching and walking in mangroves help to create economic activity for multiple stakeholders.

    Thus, this multi-dimensional project will make it possible to know better the mangrove, to manage it better and to preserve its potential for the next generations.


    Scientific coordination


    The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded this project via its FSPI program.



    Visit the project website to learn more: https://mikoko.co.ke/

  • SALMEA - Self-Accomplishment and Local Moralities in East Africa

    SALMEA - Self-Accomplishment and Local Moralities in East Africa


    January 2019 - January 2022

    Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda

    Context and objectives

    The project SALMEA examines how men and women in contemporary East Africa seek—whether successfully or not—to access and transmit wealth, power, respectability, and authority. These goals may pose a formidable challenge as fast-changing social realities informed by structural change are fundamentally affecting local practices and representations of a well-led life and the practical paths for its achievement.

    The project explores the dialectic relations between forms of self- accomplishment and repertoires of morality by focusing on four central themes: wealth, violence, religion, and kinship. They are examined from their economic, political, social, and symbolic dimensions by an interdisciplinary research team and partners. The approach uses ethnographic field data, historical records and the relevant academic literature on questions of authority, ownership, inheritance, and kinship in East Africa.

    Through case studies primarily based in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, the SALMEA project is attentive to social trends specific to East Africa while contributing to global scholarly debates about the connection between values and action, ethics and praxis. Special attention is paid to the ways in which social categories such as ethnicity, race, class, age, generation, gender, and religion intersect in the quest for self-accomplishment.

    Uncovering the opportunities, obstacles and constrains that frame individual trajectories, the scientists also seek to provide practical insights to governments, civil society actors, and development organizations in their efforts to help individuals and groups improve their lives and livelihood.





    To learn more about the project, visit the dedicated website and the project’s flyer.

  • SLAFNET - Slavery in Africa: a dialogue between Europe and Africa

    SLAFNET - Slavery in Africa: a dialogue between Europe and Africa


    July 2017 – July 2020

    Kenya, Africa, Europe


    The overall objective of the project is to establish a top-level scientific network of several institutions and research groups from Europe and Africa on the field of slavery studies. It aims at focusing mutual efforts of 13 research groups with extended and complementary competences in their respective research fields and at gathering multidisciplinary expertise in slavery-related issues by encouraging the exchange of young and senior researchers from both continents.

    This network will be the first of its kind in the world. Our goal is to conduct research on both historical and contemporary slavery and forced labour and to emphasize its international dimension. One of the main goals of this project is to bridge disciplinary and regional area studies or initiatives, to encourage dialogue and to engage in collaborative research. It will involve African and European researchers from various disciplines from different parts of the world with complementary skills. It will enrich the analysis of the underlying local situations and address the impact of slavery and slave trade on population histories in Europe and Africa. 
    This project is composed of three components (training, research, diffusion) and aims to address the main objectives of the RISE programme such as:

    • The promotion and support scientific and technological cooperation between African and European researchers working in research institutions and universities;
    • The development of new collaborative linkages that will result in innovative ideas
    • The building of the capacities of junior researchers
    • The encouragement of exchanges and synergy between researchers, by supporting their mobility and establishing a sustainable network and reach out various communities within and outside academia.

    The IRD is main leader of the project and is involved in 5 WP:

    • Management
    • Understanding Citizenship, Marginalization and Injustices in Post-societies in Europe and Africa slavery 
    • Forgetting and Remembering Slavery in Europe and Africa
    • Heritage and Public History
    • Databases Analysis: Systematic Inventory of the Existing Resources on the Slave Trade and Slavery


    Scientific coordination: Marie-Pierre Ballarin (IRD - Urmis)


    The European Programm SLAFNET, “Slavery in Africa: a dialogue between Europe and Africa” has received funding from the European Commission in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE), Call: H2020-MSCA-RISE-2016.



    For further information: http://slafnet.hypotheses.org/

  • TIS AEDES OI - Implementation of the Sterile Insect Technique in the Indian Ocean

    TIS AEDES OI - Implementation of the Sterile Insect Technique in the Indian Ocean


    February 2019 - March 2021

    Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion


    With around 800,000 deaths per year, mosquitoes are the deadliest animals in the world. That’s because of the pathologies they carry, including malaria, dengue, chikungunya, and since the last decade the Zika virus. The islands of the Indian Ocean and neighbouring countries are not spared, several mosquito species being established there due to good conditions for their development. The omnipresence of the "tiger" mosquito Aedes albopictus and its close cousin Aedes aegypti, two vectors of the viruses of chikungunya, dengue and Zika, maintains a high level of risk of emergence of these arboviroses.

    At the same time, apart from yellow fever - viral haemorrhagic disease also carried by Aedes sp. (Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus), against which there is a preventive vaccine developed in the 1940s - the fight against diseases such as dengue and chikungunya is mainly based on prevention, targeting vectors. The control methods used, both physical (control and elimination of breeding sites) and chemical based on the use of insecticide products for which mosquitoes develop more and more resistance, are likely to lead to other threats to health and the environment.

    Motivated by the need to reduce reliance on insecticides, many countries have expressed a strong interest in alternative vector management strategies. In recent years, research has focused on the development of complementary and integrated strategies to overcome the limitations of traditional control methods. Among the methods considered, the Sterile Insect Technique (TIS), inherited from the one developed in the 1950s to effectively control insect pests in the agricultural and veterinary sectors, is the best option. Sterilized by gamma or X-rays, mass-reared males are then released in the nature in millions to induce sterility in the wild populations of targeted insects. Mating a wild female to a sterile male will produce eggs that will not hatch (non viable). Thus, the population of wild insects will gradually decrease.

    Although the interest of TIS, as an ecological approach for vector control programs, is widely accepted, there are many challenges to its implementation. The planning and operational implementation of the TIS strategy must be primarily based on scientific evidence. In fact, the first step in setting up TIS in the vector mosquito removal strategy is to generate new knowledge and tools based on applied research.

    Watch the video about the TIS project (in French): https://youtu.be/EzZcHrXN9gU


    This project has the objective to evaluate, through a multi-scale approach, the possibility of implementing TIS in the Indian Ocean countries and the challenges its implementation may face in different geographical contexts. The specific objectives are:

    • To consolidate the cooperation between the participating countries in the creation of a strategic partnership and support for the development of the TIS adapted to the national context.
    • To research entomological indicators of feasibility of TIS in partner countries of the Indian Ocean
    • To share knowledge and technical capacity building in the field
    • To mobilize and enhance social acceptance around the project



    INTERREG (Region / State / EU)

  • WIoDER - Widening the deltas’ scope

    WIoDER (Western Indian ocean Deltas Exchange & Research) - widening the deltas’ scope


    January 2017 - December 2019

    Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania


    The WIoDER project was an international and multi-disciplinary research network studying the contemporary evolution of the deltas of the Western Indian Ocean.

    The research carried out within the framework of the WIoDER network aimed at understanding the functioning of these particular socio-ecosystems, describing their recent evolutions and at analyzing the impacts of the current public policies (conversion of the floodplains or on the contrary the creation of protected areas).


    In this context, the members of the WIoDER network had the following objectives:

    • to develop research methodologies adapted to the delta studies;
    • to acquire, analyze and compare data at the regional level;
    • to share and disseminate appropriate scientific approaches and tools;
    • to connect students, researchers, decision-makers and delta inhabitants, in order to better understand the functioning of these socio-ecosystems in their different dimensions (hydrological, ecological, socio-economic, etc.).

    Research programs

    WIoDER developed five field school and research programs on four sites in the Western Indian Ocean region: the Tana delta in Kenya (« Biodiversity »), the Rufiji delta in Tanzania (« Livelihoods », « Migrations »), the Limpopo delta in Mozambique (« Hydrology ») and the Betsiboka delta in Madagascar (« Mangroves »).

     A long-term goal was to set up a sustainable regional cooperation for the development of an observatory of Western Indian Ocean deltas dynamics.


    Scientific coordination

    • Dr. Stéphanie Duvail, WIoDER Principal Investigator (coordination), Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, IRD, France
    • Dr. Craig Hutton, WIoDER co-Principal Investigator, University of Southampton, England
    • Dr. Paolo Paron, WIoDER co-Principal Investigator, IHE-Delft, Mozambique


    IDRC (Canadian International Development Research Center) and IRD