Director, Columbia Global Centers | Nairobi

Belay Ejigu Begashaw joined the Earth Institute of Columbia University in January 2009 as Senior Agriculture Policy Specialist for Eastern and Southern Africa. He became director of The MDG Centre in August 2009 and he also serves as associate director of the Earth Institute's Tropical Agriculture and Rural Development Program. He has over 20 years of experience in agriculture extension and rural development, ranging from a grass-roots development agent to the Minister of Agriculture for Ethiopia. During his tenure as Minister of Agriculture, Ethiopia established the coalition for food security strategy, the National Extension and Transformation Program, the safety net program which support millions of farmers living in chronic to transitory food deficit situation, the Technical Vocational Education and Training Program, a strategy for commercializing smallholders agriculture and institutional reform of the agriculture knowledge system. In the past three years, Begashaw has done extensive consulting work for several international organizations in the area of food security, poverty reduction and investment.

Begashaw earned his MPA degree from Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, M.Sc. from University of Reading and a B.Sc. from Addis Ababa University, Almay College of Agriculture. He holds a Ph.D. in agricultural policy from Texas A&M University where he was a Borlaug Fellow. Begashaw has served as a member and chair of several boards of trustees with national and international mandates, including International Live Stock Research (ILRI), Alamaya University, Ethiopian Agriculture Research System, Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, the National Drug Administration the National Standard Organization, the National Food Reserve agency and Ethiopian Radiation Agency. Belay likes reading in his spare time.

Regional HIV/AIDS Advisor

Maureen Adudans is the HIV/AIDS Regional Advisor for the MDG Centre, East and Southern Africa. Her main responsibility is to support communities and countries accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs as relates to HIV/AIDS and TB under MDG 6. Maureen brings on board her experience in HIV/AIDS treatment, care and research during her tenure with the Kenya Medical Research Institute in close collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco. Some of her key achievements included the establishment of research clinics and the successful conduct of a series of HIV prevention and incidence studies in Nyanza, Kenya. In addition, she played a key role in the design and development of the microbicides research and clinical protocols for the International Partnerships for Microbicides. Maureen has also worked with GiZ Health Sector Programme, Kenya, as a Senior Reproductive Health Programme Officer working closely with government ministries and relevant stakeholders to ensure high quality program implementation. Maureen received her Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Nairobi. Thereafter was awarded a full Fogarty scholarship to undertake a Master’s in Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.

Regional eHealth Specialist

Maurice Barasa is the regional eHealth specialist with the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). His focus is to support the implementation and integration of OpenMRS and Childcount+ (an sms based intervention focusing on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health) in the Millennium Villages in the region. His area of interest is the use of electronic health record systems (EHRs) to improve health service delivery.

Maurice holds a Bachelor of Statistics (Statistical Computing) from Makerere University, Kenya. He aims to use his knowledge to improve the use of EHRs in planning and decision making. Before this, he was working at the Millennium Villages Project in Dertu, Northern Kenya, as a Database Manager focusing on Monitoring and Evaluation aspect of the MVP at this remote site.

Regional Nutrition Advisor

Kumbukani Chirwa is the Regional Nutrition Advisor for the MDG Centre, East and Southern Africa. His main responsibility is to support communities and countries accelerate progress towards achieving the nutrition related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and policy work for the MDG Centre.

Kumbukani brings on board his experience in prevention and management of malnutrition in children, adolescents and adults. He was one of the pioneers of the revised Integrated Nutrition and Food Security Surveillance System (INFSSS) in Malawi. He was also part of the team that institutionalized Community based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in Malawi the developmental context. He was also part of the team that introduced and integrated the nutrition component in the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) scale up plan, a programme called Nutrition Care Support and Treatment. He is a trainer for CMAM, Infant and Young Feeding, Nutrition Surveillance and Response, CMAM coverage survey, Essential Nutrition Action (ENA) and the recently launched Scale Up Nutrition-1000 special days. He has been part and parcel of many nutrition surveys, CMAM coverage surveys, nutrition baseline and evaluation surveys, vulnerability assessment surveys and operational research in Malawi.

Kumbukani has worked with Ministry of Health, as a Senior Nutritionist. Among other responsibilities, Kumbukani was responsible for assessing food and nutrition problems affecting mothers, children and other vulnerable groups in Malawi, designing, Initiating implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes meant to address the identified food and nutrition problems. He worked very much in collaboration with UNICEF, WFP, WHO, other government ministries and relevant stakeholders to ensure high quality programme implementation.

Kumbukani received Bachelor’s Degree in Education Science majoring in Home Economics (Human Nutrition) from the Chancellor College, constituent College of the University of Malawi. Thereafter was awarded a full United Nation University (UNU) scholarship to undertake a Master of Science in Applied Human Nutrition at University of Nairobi, Kenya.

Regional Education Advisor

Susan Lyria Karuti is the Regional Education Advisor for the MDG Centre and the Columbia Global Centers | Africa. Susan joined the Centre in October 2006 as the Regional Gender Specialist with special focus on an adolescent girls empowerment project in all six countries in East and Southern Africa. In 2009 her role was expanded to also coordinate and provide technical support to the education sector.

Susan holds a Ph.D in education from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, a M.A in Sociology from the University of Nairobi, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from Kenyatta University, and a B.A in Social Sciences from the University of Nairobi. Other relevant professional courses undertaken include the Partnership Brokers Accreditation Scheme in Wales, UK. The scheme is developed by the Prince of Wales International Business Leader’s Forum (IBLF), in partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI); Training of Trainer on Living Values Education Programme, by the Global Retreat Centre, Oxford, UK; Counselling course by the Kenya Association of Professional Counsellors, Nairobi; and Training of Facilitators by AMREF, Kenya.


Susan has worked for over 15 years in the area of education, gender, development, policy analysis and advocacy. She previously worked with the Christian Children’s Fund (CCF)-Kenya (now Child-Fund, Kenya) for 10 years as the National Education Coordinator. Susan has researched and worked extensively on quality basic education, gender mainstreaming and sustainable rural development. She has participated in various evaluation projects as a social policy, gender and education expert including the impact of Food For Asset (FFA) component by the World Food Program (WFP); the Final evaluation of CDP-3 and CDEMP-CEF Component commissioned by the European Union (EU); an impact evaluation of the MVP adolescent girls’ empowerment project by the Nike Foundation; and the socio-economic assessment of the Geita Gold Mine (GGM) project in Tanzania.

Regional WASH Advisor

Ignatio has over 15 years experience in the area of water, sanitation, and hygene, environmental health, waste management, health education and promotion, training and research. Since joining the MDG Centre in June 2012, he is providing technical advice on water, hygiene and sanitation to the Millennium Villages Project. Prior to joining the MDG Centre, Ignatio wroked with the Government of Tanzania as an Environmental Health Specialist., as well as the African Medical Research Foundation and Danida.

He holds a Ph. D in Environmental Engineering from the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, a Masters Degree in Public Health Administration from Mzumbe University, Tanzania, an Advance Diploma in Health Education and Promotion from Ibadan University, Nigeria and a Diploma in Environmental Health Science from the University of Dar Es Salaam.

Regional ICT Manager


Edwin has 12 years of experience in ICT. He joined the MDG Centre in July 2011 at the Regional ICT Manager for East and Southern Africa. His work consists of supporting Millennium Villages Project sites and the MDG Centre in ICT related matters.

He previously worked as the Country IT Manager for Development Alternatives Inc. under a USAID-funded project in Kenya, as well as various government ministries in integrating IT systems. He has a wealth of experience in networking, systems design and administration, web and SMS technology, and GIS remote sensing.

Edwin holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Business Administration from the Catholic University of East Africa.

Regional Human Resource Manager

Ebla M. Mohamed is the Regional Human Resource Manager for the Millennium Villages Project in East and Southern Africa. Her position provides strategic and operational Human Resource leadership and support to MVP sites in the region.

Ebla has over 10 years experience in the human resource field having worked at The Kenya Power & Lighting Co. Ltd before joining the MDG Centre in July 2011. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Nairobi and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management from the same institution. She is a member of The Institute of Human Resource Management (Kenya).


Millennium Cities Advisor

Joy Morabu is the Millennium Cities (MCI) advisor. She is charged with the responsibilities of developing strategic alliances with partners, multi and bilateral institutions, and engaging the public and private sectors to support the implementation of the Millennium Cities Initiative. Joy had been at the Centre since 2007 as the finance and operations manager for Millennium Promise, and then later the partnerships advisor. She has a wealth of experience in building local, regional and international partnerships in donor funded and for-profit organizations.

Previously, Joy worked as a knowledge management officer in charge of networking and communication at IntraHealth International Inc., a non-profit organization focusing on increasing the quality of health care services, people and institutional capacity building. Having worked in various capacities, Joy has over 15 years managerial experience in the corporate and private sectors. She has a M.A. in Leadership Studies and B.Sc. in International Business Administration.

Regional Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Advisor

Shemsanga Muhadili is a Medical Doctor with more than 10 years work experience in the health sector. Prior to joining the MDG Center in March 2012, he worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as the Health Coordinator for the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) in Tanzania overseeing the design and adaptation of public health interventions towards the realization of the MDGs. He has also worked with Benjamin Mkapa HIV/AIDS Foundation, which is affiliated with Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI), as the National Programme Officer overseeing Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Health Systems. He has worked with many District and Regional Health Management Teams in Tanzania at different management capacities. Shemsanga brings to the MDG Centre strong partnerships with Government, Civil Society Organizations, Multi-Bilateral partners including UN development assistance to the Health sector. He is an active member of Tanganyika Medical Association (TMA), Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) and various alumni organizations.

Regional Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Specialist

Paul is the Regional Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Specialist for the Millennium Villages Project in East and Southern Africa. He is responsible for quality control on all project site data, overseeing monitoring and evaluating systems and activities in all surveys and mini-surveys in all six countries and MDG scale-up projects in the region, working closely with sector advisors and the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is responsible for continuous outcome monitoring data assessment and statistical data analysis to assess achievement of the MDGs for impact assessment. Paul also provides technical support to all site M&E coordinators and scale-up countries in the region, training on appropriate statistical methodologies for measuring, monitoring, and evaluating the implementation of the project in meeting the Millennium Development Goals and generation of subsequent analysis reports.

Paul previously worked with Partners in Health and Research Development (PHRD) - Thika, Kenya, a project of the University of Washington, Seattle, and Kenyatta National Hospital for five and half years as the Data and Information Technology manager in charge of all clinical trial and program data quality control, data management and analysis, monitoring and evaluation and process evaluation. Prior to this, Paul worked with African Conservation Center (ACC) – UNBP Project, in Nairobi, Kenya as the Quantitative and GIS data analyst and Consumer Insight Africa Ltd, as a Quantitative Executive data analyst (data quality control, data management and analysis). Paul brings on board vast experience in design and analysis of clinical trials, public health research, health information management systems, statistical methodology and monitoring and evaluation. He aims to use his vast knowledge in public health research and M&E to improve in planning, data use and decision making. He has consulted for Hasselt University, Belgium (under Statcom) and PHRD. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science Mathematics (Statistics) and Computer Science (Honors) from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya and a Master of Statistics: Biostatistics from Hasselt University, Hasselt, Belgium under Flemish Inter-University Council (VLIR) scholarship. 

Regional Operations Manager

John Okorio is the regional operations manager (East and Southern Africa) for the Millennium Villages Project based at The MDG Centre. He is responsible for overseeing the implementation of MVP in eight sites in the region. Previous to that, John was Team Leader and Cluster Manager for Ruhiira Millennium Village in Uganda. In this position, he oversaw the technical and financial implementation of the project in Isingiro District, western Uganda. Before joining the MVP, he was a Team Leader and Principal Research Scientist with the Uganda National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).

His professional background is forestry and agroforestry. John has a vast experience in research for development in agriculture and forestry, covering areas such as sustainable development, natural resource management, and livelihoods. He also has experience in managing projects comprising multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary teams of specialists. In addition, he has carried out consultancies with FAO, RELMA-SIDA and Africare International relating to food security, natural resource management and agroforestry.  He is a holder of Ph.D., M.Sc. and B.Sc. (Hons) in Forestry.

Regional Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor

Patricia Namakula is the Regional Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor for the MDG Centre, East and Southern Africa. Her main responsibility is to provide leadership and expertise on all aspects of Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) policies and practices through identification (or development, where needed) of indicators, targets, and methodologies for measuring, monitoring, and evaluating the implementation of the project interventions against meeting the set Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). She also provides countries in the region with direct technical support for the design and implementation of M&E plans and activities and ensures their appropriate dissemination, preparation and dissemination of analytical reports.

Patricia worked with the UNDP-Ruhiira Millennium Villages project for six years as the M&E Data Manager. Prior to that, she worked with the Information Flow Management and Networking (IFMN) project and the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry (MTTI) for one year to enhance flow of high quality information and its sharing. Patricia brings to the Centre experience in designing and managing Monitoring & Evaluation systems for learning and enhancing decision making.   Patricia received a First Class Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics and Computer Science from the Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, Uganda. Thereafter she was awarded a full Common Wealth Shared Scholarship (CSS) to undertake a Master of Science in Applied Epidemiology from The University of Nottingham (UoN), England.

Regional Water Coordinator

Stephen N. Ngigi is a research associate at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is a water resources management specialist and water coordinator for the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). He has a Ph.D. in integrated water resources management (IWRM) from UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education), Delft, the Netherlands (2006), an M.Sc. in soil and water engineering from University of Nairobi, a postgraduate diploma in groundwater resources management from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel, and a B.Sc. in agricultural engineering from the University of Nairobi. He previously worked with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Nile Project as a regional agricultural water use survey consultant based in Entebbe, Uganda. He has also taught and researched at the University of Nairobi for more than 10 years. Ngigi has researched and published extensively on integrated agricultural water management, especially rainwater harvesting and management and low-head drip irrigation technology. He has been involved in many community development activities in Eastern Africa, mainly focusing on the promotion of water as an entry point to sustainable rural development. He has been the recipient of research and project grants from USAID and the European Commission.

Climate and Health Specialist

Barbara Platzer has recently joined CGC-Africa in the role of Climate and Health Specialist, supporting a growing portfolio of applied research and evidence-based policies and practices focused on climate-sensitive impacts on infectious disease, disasters, nutrition and food security in collaboration with the Earth Institute and the International Research Institute for Climate & Society (IRI- In particular, she will be responsible for stakeholder & partner engagement, capacity building, donor outreach, as well as coordination of currently funded and emerging activities in East Africa (with an initial focus on Kenya, Tanzania & Ethiopia).

Born in Nairobi, Barbara has a long-standing interest in Africa. In her previous work with IRI and the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia, she has facilitated climate adaptation strategies in Africa, at research and policy levels, and across sectors (including in health, agriculture, index insurance and water). Working closely with national meteorological services and ministries, as well as the regional climate centres, she has helped to build stakeholder networks and delivered on large-scale multi-partner programmes with a view towards supporting the ClimDev-Africa process.

Barbara has over eight years experience in project delivery, budgeting and contracting, facilitation of international collaborations and partnerships, as well as grant and research proposal development. Prior to joining Columbia University's Earth Institute in 2008, Barbara served as Assistant Director for the Decision, Risk and Operations Division of the Columbia Business School. She holds a Masters Degree from the University of Chicago in International Relations and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brown University and speaks French and German with basic proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic.

Consultant, Columbia Global Centers | Africa

Bruce Scott is a Canadian national, who joined Columbia Global Centers | Africa as Deputy Director in 2012. He has spent his entire professional career managing scientific research in Africa. Bruce Scott started his career as the IDRC Regional Director for eastern and southern Africa from 1978 to 1986. He established the IDRC office in the region and developed it into one of IDRC’s principle regional offices until today. He was also IDRC’s Regional Director for west and central Africa based in Dakar Senegal from 1986 to 1988. He then spent 12 years with the International Centre for Research on Agroforestry - ICRAF (now World Agroforestry Centre) as Director of the Collaborative Research Programme establishing agroforestry research networks throughout sub- Saharan Africa, and subsequently as Deputy Director General. From 1999 to 2012 Bruce Scott was working with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Initially he was appointed Director of Corporate Services and for the last 8 years was the ILRI Director for Partnerships and Communications.  Bruce Scott has a wealth of experience in senior positions managing innovative research enterprises largely devoted to finding solutions and generating scientific evidence to improve the lives of people in Africa. As Deputy  Director at CGCA, Bruce will be responsible among other things ensuring vigorous corporate services, effective partnership and fund management   along with all other duties related to management of different projects the center is involved with.  Bruce Scott has a Bachelors degree in Economics and Geography from Queen’s University in Canada and a Master’s degree in International Relations from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Public Sector Management Specialist

Margaret Wanjiku is currently working as a Regional Public Policy Advisor, at the Columbia Global Centre in Nairobi, a position she has held since December 2006. In this role, she initiates policy discussions with government institutions in the East and Southern African region aimed at taking to scale evidence based solutions to poverty emerging from the Millennium Villages Project. She also coordinates the establishment of new MVP initiatives in the region.

She previously worked with the Netherlands Development Organization, SNV as Local Governance and Gender Advisor, the Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development (CCGD) a Kenyan women’s advocacy organization as a programme manager for the Gender Budget Initiative Programme. In the past, she has undertaken assignments for the European Commission, World Food Programme in Kenya, and Iceland Agency for International Development in Uganda and Malawi, World Vision International, among others.

Her areas of expertise include public policy engagement, analysis and advocacy, governance and decentralization. She holds a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from the University of Nairobi. She is presently a Doctoral candidate at the University of Nairobi.   

Regional Health Systems Advisor

James Wariero is the Regional Health Systems Advisor for the Millennium Development Goals Centre in the East and Southern Africa region. He is responsible for the coordination of health support to the Millennium Villages from the Centre, technical backstopping for the adaptation and design of the health system for each of the 6 regional sites, and support for health policy in the region. Before coming to the Centre, James worked for the project as the Deputy Director for Health for the Millennium Villages at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and as Health Coordinator for the Sauri Millennium Villages in Kenya. Prior to joining the MVP, he worked for the government of Kenya as a clinical pharmacist in Paediatrics and later in HIV Care at the Nyanza Provincial General Hospital, and as trainer and in curriculum development for HIV care, commodity management, and rational drug use; and during the same time consulted for a number of organizations including the Coca Cola Foundation, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), John Snow Inc (JSI), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and the Network of African People Living with HIV (NAP+), among others. James graduated from the University of Nairobi’s School of Pharmacy in 2001, and is additionally trained in Management, Commodity Management, and HIV Clinical Care.

Manager, Finance & Administration


Jane Wambugu is the manager, finance and administration. She is in charge of budget development activities, project administration and human resources at the Centre.

She joined The MDG Centre in February 2007 as the finance officer. Previously she worked at the World Agroforestry Centre at various positions including regional finance officer for East and Central Africa, accountant budget and projects administration (South East Asia) and assistant treasury accountant. Prior to that, she worked as the audit assistant at the Dominion Consultants/Wachira Irungu & Associates Certified Public Accountants. Jane is a certified Public Accountant and has a BA in Accounting from United States International University-Africa (USIU-A). She also holds a Diploma in Horticulture from Egerton University and has previously worked for the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture.

Assistant Accountant

Jesika has worked for MDG since 2009 as an assistant accountant. Her major responsibilities involve managing the daily financial duties. She holds bachelor degree in B.Comm (Accounting option), and also did the Certified Public Account (currently in section 5).

Assistant Accountant

Millicent joined the center in December 2009. Her main responsibilities are in Financial Accounting at the Center. She holds a CPAII and is currently pursuing Bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Nairobi.

Regional Finance Manager

Pascal Gasheja joined the MDG Centre in June 2010 as the Regional Finance Manager. His work consists of supporting the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) clusters in Financial Management. He joined the MDG Centre from MVP Rwanda where he served as Director of Finance and Administration since 2007. He worked also with the Access Project Rwanda (under Columbia University) as the Financial Management Specialist. Previously, Pascal worked at the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) Rwanda as Audit Team Leader from 2000 to 2006. He has a wealth of experience in finance, accounts, procurement, human resources and financial auditing. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Economics.

Personal Assistant to the Director

Pauline Muthoni joined in May 2012 as the Personal Assistant to the Director. She oversees the Director’s daily schedule and provides administrative support to staff within the MDG Centre and Columbia Global Center | Africa. Pauline holds a Masters degree in Business Administration and a Bachelors in Human Resource Management. She has over 7 years of experience in office administration and management.

Senior Driver

Shem Kanyatti Mwangi is the senior driver for The MDG Centre, responsible for facilitating transport and delivery needs and the maintenance of The MDG Centre vehicles. He has 30 years of experience working as a driver, including 10 years with the Attorney General’s Chambers, 13 years with the UNFPA/CRDP project, 13 years with the UNIDO Leather Project and the past four years with The MDG Centre. He is married with four children.

Cluster Manager and Team Leader of Sauri Millennium Village

Jessica Masira was named Sauri’s cluster manager and team leader in November 2010. She has been on the team since April 2006, serving as deputy team leader and community development coordinator. In this capacity, Jessica was instrumental in defining community based participatory approaches and participatory needs assessments, creating community working structures, planning and coordinating sector interventions, and liaising with government officials for strategic planning and resource allocation.

Jessica holds a international development from Andrews University, Michigan (USA), a B.Sc. in agriculture and home economics from Egerton University (Kenya), and a Diploma in management in the agricultural sector from Nordic Agricultural College (Denmark.) She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in planning at Maseno University (Kenya).

Jessica has over 15 years of experience in development and relief, having worked as Head for women and youth program in the government setting (Ministry of Agriculture Livestock Development and Marketing), and as Development coordinator with ADRA Kenya. When she served as Monitoring and Evaluation officer on a World Food Programme (WFP) Kenya Emergency Operations, she was instrumental in initiating community based food aid targeting system. She also was health and nutrition coordinator in an USAID project, and deputy project director on the same.

Human Resource Manager

Esther Wamoto is the Human Resource Manager for the Columbia Global Center | Africa. Her role is to advise management on the HR strategic issues and to provide leadership on the operational work for the center.

Esther has over 9 years’ experience in the human resource field having worked at The World Agroforestry Center and British American Tobacco before joining the CGC Africa in  January 2013 . She holds a Master’s of Science in Human Resources Management from Jomo Kenyatta University, Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Kenya Methodist University and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management from IHRM. She is a member of The Institute of Human Resource Management (Kenya).

Regional Communication Specialist

Columbia Global Centers