Inaugural conference of the Institute for Human Development, Nairobi

Published February 25, 2015 – by Karisia Gichuke

Earlier this month I visited Nairobi to attend the launch of the Institute for Human Development, a new centre of excellence that will build capacity and drive innovation in research and higher education on human development. Its aim is to advance the quality of individual lives and contribute to the building of successful pluralistic societies, with a particular focus on children, families, and communities within resource-poor regions of the world.

Photo • Rosemary Quipp

The Institute is a part of the Aga Khan University and brings together researchers, teachers, practitioners and students from across the university and the Aga Khan Development Network, linking with partners in other parts of the world, such as the Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development, part of the University of Toronto.

The Institute for Human Development launched with an interdisciplinary conference for researchers, policy-makers, government and non-governmental organisations and civil society leaders. Entitled “Investing in Early Childhood Development for a Better World”, it brought together individuals from over 23 countries who, over an intensive three days in Nairobi, learnt about the latest science on early human development and its links to interventions in health, nutrition, psychological development, education and child welfare.

Innovative approaches to meeting challenges faced by children in low-income communities were shared, and ideas exchanged about the design, delivery and evaluation of programmes and services for young children. It was a privilege to be a part of an event showcasing such a high quality of thinking and research, and I was pleased to represent the Bernard van Leer Foundation as part of a plenary of foundations working on issues affecting the youngest children.

AKU’s Institute for Human Development Founding Director Kofi Marfo shaking hands with His Excellency David Angell, Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya | Photo • Rosemary Quipp

It was also fantastic to attend such an event in Nairobi. The Institute’s location in East Africa is an exciting development that will hopefully herald an increase in the visibility and quantity of quality research and thought leadership on early human development coming from the region. Aga Khan and its partners are to be commended for their vision in setting it up.