David Obura (PhD)
  • David Obura is a Founding Director of CORDIO East Africa, a knowledge organization supporting sustainability of coral reef and marine systems in the Western Indian Ocean. CORDIO takes research to management and policy, builds capacity, and works with stakeholders, managers and policy makers. David’s primary research is on coral reef resilience, in particular to climate change, and the biogeography of the Indian Ocean. For more details see this detailed bio page.At the boundary between science and action, David works to integrate conservation and development through inclusive blue economy principles and links provided by global sustainability goals and targets. He works from the local scale, through fostering innovative action to promote sustainability, through regional scale alignment and integration such as in the Northern Mozambique Channel, to global scales of bringing knowledge and local-regional practice into decision-making circles. 2020 will be a critical year for ocean, biodiversity and climate targets in global conventions, and David is engaged in multiple processes (see expert groups) to bring coral reef science and learning into these global fora.

    Coral reefs are iconic, yet local to global pressures on them are worsening, and taking them to the brink of collapse. Reaching out to non-scientists and the public is essential to create the change needed for sustainability. David has contributed in multiple fora such as The Conversation Africa, the Guardian/Observer, major TV (South African Broadcasting Company, Al Jazheera, BBC) and film (e.g. Vamizi, Cradle of Coral; Chasing Coral; Blue in Focus).



Melita Samoilys (PhD)

Melita is a co-Director of CORDIO East Africa based in Kenya. She has worked in coral reef and fisheries research, management and conservation in East Africa, elsewhere in the Indian Ocean and also in the Pacific and Red Sea. She has also contributed to fisheries policy development in Australia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Somalia, and to regional marine policy development in the Western Indian Ocean. Her focus in CORDIO is research on fish community structure and behaviour to understand climate change and fishing impacts on reefs; improving artisanal fisheries management; and training of managers, researchers and fishers. Her areas of experience are the reproductive biology of groupers and spawning aggregations, marine protected areas, community – based coastal management and alternative livelihoods for conservation solutions.

Melita is currently on a two year visiting Research Fellowship in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, working with Professors Alex Rogers and Mike Bonsall looking at the impacts of climate change and fishing on coral reefs in the western Indian Ocean.

Melita’s MSc and PhD were from Queensland University and James Cook University, in Australia. She is a member of: three IUCN’s Species Specialist Groups – Groupers and Wrasses; Shark; Snapper, Seabream and Grunt; the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)’s Developing World Working Group, the Society for the Protection of Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations (SCRFA) and the Editorial Board of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Journal.

Current contact details:

Research Fellow

Ocean Research & Conservation Group

Department of Zoology

University of Oxford,

New Radcliffe House, Oxford OX2 6GG

mob: +44 7393622355

Programme Management

Joan Momanyi (MSc)

Joan Momanyi Joined CORDIO in May 2019 as a Program and Communication Manager. Previously, she has been involved in research and management of projects at local, national and regional level with diverse stakeholders (Governmental Institutions, NGO’s, Private Sector, CSO’s and communities).

Joan holds an MSc in Climate change (adaptation and mitigation) and Sustainable Development from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and a BSc in Environmental Conservation and Natural Resource Management from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She is passionate about projects/programs that promote sustainable environmental conservation (climate change adaptation and mitigation) while concurrently improving the livelihood of the vulnerable communities through fostering poverty eradication, equality and building capacity of the local community.

Professional Networks

Twitter: @MomanyiJoan


Kennedy Osuka (MSc)

Kennedy is a research scientist at CORDIO East Africa working under Fish and Fisheries program. Having worked with CORDIO since 2010, he has developed great interest in artisanal fisheries research, coral reef resilience, management and conservation. He holds an MSc. in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management from the universities of Vrije Univesiteit Brussels, Ghent and Antwerpen (Belgium) where he studied the linkage between the benthic structure and fish functional groups distribution in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). He has contributed in the development of responsible fisheries and building resilience to climate change policies on small-scale fishery of Kenyan coast. His specific areas of proficiency accrued over the years are data management and analysis, fisheries monitoring and capacity building of fishing community through education and awareness. Kennedy aims at improving artisanal fisheries management in Kenya and WIO at large. He is a member of WIOMSA

Mishal Gudka (MSc)

Mishal joined CORDIO in March 2016 and works as a Scientist and Project Manager. He has an MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation from the University of East Anglia. Since joining CORDIO, his main focus is around coral reef ecology and the impacts of global warming through coral bleaching. He has led regional data aggregation initiatives through the Nairobi Convention Coral Reef Task Force and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) which has led to the production of the 2017 WIOGCRMN coral reef status report and the 2017/18 post-bleaching assessment. He managed and led the Preliminary Ocean Health Index assessments for Kenya and Tanzania and is currently leading the data analysis for the 2019 Red List of Ecosystems assessment of coral reefs of the WIO. In addition to data analysis, he is involved in coral reef monitoring, trainings on survey techniques as well as education and outreach events and talks.

Clay Obota (MSc)

Clay joined CORDIO as an intern working under the FADs project and gradually advanced to a research assistant  working on Marine Biology/Ecology, Fish population dynamics, Fish stock assessment & Fisheries management. Prior to this, Clay an MSc Fisheries holder from Pwani University worked with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute on various fisheries with more emphasis on Fin fish taxonomy and systematics, aquarium fisheries and was part of the team that developed the Kenya Marine Aquarium Fisheries Management Plan. He has also worked with Eco Ethics International-Kenya as a Project Officer (Integrated Sustainable Marine Artisanal Fisheries Project supported by Swedish Society for Nature Conservation).

Biological studies have dominated much of his academic and professional life, with Aquarium fisheries research allowing him to satisfy his intrigue on how nature works and how humans can conserve wildlife through knowledge and understanding. He acknowledges CORDIO East Africa for the opportunity to continue conducting research under the fish and fisheries program.

Besides scientific analysis and reporting/writing on Fish biology and ecology, Clay enjoys sporting and singing gospel music.

Joan Kawaka, MSc )

Joan joined CORDIO East Africa as a researcher under the UNDP project where she led in the establishment of a marine community conservation area (Mkunguni CCA). Her working career in the marine environment has exposed her to different types of research and marine conservation related training opportunities. She looks back on what appears like a road trip going through different landscapes from working on sea turtle conservation, sea cucumber reproductive studies, coral reef biodiversity monitoring to the training of fishing communities in community-based monitoring geared towards management of marine and fisheries resources. She has trained local communities in Kenya, Pemba, and Mozambique, on marine conservation and coral reef biodiversity monitoring.

Joan holds a first degree in Fisheries from Moi University, Kenya, and an MSc in Environment and International Development from the University of East Anglia, UK, where she learnt the different environmental challenges affecting natural environment and humans in developing countries, and to put a people’s face to hard science. She believes that research has a major role to play in development and finding solutions to the challenges faced by coastal communities. She enjoys working with diverse cultures in marine conservation and enhancing sustainable marine resource use. Her engagement in various conservation initiatives throughout her working life; lecturing and conveying simplified scientific concepts to young people and the larger coastal communities that greatly depends on coral reefs and its associated ecosystems, has exposed her to the joy that people have in knowing they are empowered to determine the path their lives should follow. She is currently a community conservation specialist, a position that has brought her into closer engagements with the local community. She believes that the success of community based natural resource management lies in empowering locals to take up the mantle through good governance, understanding and engaging in economically viable social enterprises.

For further information, see my following profile page on
Social media: Facebook
Peter Musembi, MSc )

Musembi Joined CORDIO in January 2019 as a Researcher in Fish and Fisheries program. He has previously worked at Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and A Rocha Kenya on Coral reefs ecology, biodiversity of shallow marine habitats, fisheries, community conservation initiatives and ecology of sharks and rays where he developed great interest and passion for life beneath the waves. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Applied Aquatic Sciences from Egerton University and pursuing a Master’s Degree in Fisheries at Pwani University. He loves being in the water and never misses an opportunity to immerse in the “blueness” and diversity of the ocean.
Twitter: @pmuss21

James Mbugua (BSc)
James is a Web mapping, GIS and IT Manager at CORDIO and is involved in the spatial analysis and interpretation of Earth Observation products across various CORDIO led projects.

He joined CORDIO in 2014 as a research assistant and has risen to the level of a project manager leading component one of the Norwegian funded project that seeks to

Innovate and share knowledge for coastal resilience in Eastern Africa.

He is involved in maintenance and customisation of GeoNodes site/portal, processing of spatially explicit datasets and programming of GIS web applications.

James has a passion for GIS and loves learning new technologies and testing them in work and personal projects. He holds a BSc and a Diploma in Environmental Management from Kampala International University.

Beyond the office, he likes bike-hike adventures and cooking!

You can follow him on:

Twitter @jamesmmbugua

Facebook: Mbugua James.

Lenice Ojwang (BSc)

Lenice joined  CORDIO East Africa in August 2014 as a research assistant and is currently working on a regional project,  “Emerging Knowledge for Local Adaptation” aimed at transforming coastal and marine resource management by linking knowledge and governance to improve the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure to the impacts of climate change within the context of Integrated Coastal Zone management.  Prior to joining CORDIO, she worked with CO2 balance/ Carbon Zero Kenya Ltd on Gold Standard and Clean Development Mechanism Projects as a Head Community Projects officer for four years and as an Intern with the National Environment Management Authority. Her participation in the second Africa Carbon forum marked the beginning of her special interest on Climate change and involvement in projects that are climate resilient, environmentally sustainable, socially acceptable and economically viable. To her, successful projects are those that not only touch but transform lives significantly in the face of a changing climate. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental science from Kenyatta University with skills in community mobilization, participatory assessment, monitoring and evaluation of projects. Though she likes all raquette games, badminton has a special place in her heart. 

Randall Mabwa (BSc)

Randy joined CORDIO East Africa as an intern, having cleared his studies at Pwani University with a BSc. in Marine Biology and Fisheries. He has since advanced to the level of Researcher, working under Dr. David Obura in the Ocean Health Index (OHI) project that seeks to evaluate the health of marine ecosystems and resource use while delivering benefits to humans. He is involved in data analysis and management, reporting and review. He has recently been involved in marine invasive species baseline survey for the Lamu region and seeks to build the connectivity between species distribution and ecosystems health from future monitoring activities as well as the Ocean Health Index assessment for Kenya and Tanzania. Close to his heart is the need to empower marginalised groups in the community through efforts that will equally protect the environment.
Overall, he is keen on data analytics and management skills with focus on dissemination and use of graphics for science communication. He is also interested in coral reef monitoring, ecology and conservation. He holds a PADI open water certification and enjoys all things ‘in-water’.



Eva Kitaria (CPA, MBA)

Eva joined CORDIO East Africa in August 2014 as a Finance Manager with over 5 years’ experience in accounting & administration from both private, public and multinational organizations in Kenya. She has worked with the Nairobi Water and Sewerage company as a Debt Authentication supervisor; Airtel Kenya networks limited as a Reconciliation Executive; East Africa Breweries Limited as a Reconciliation Accountant and Co-operative Bank of Kenya Limited as Customer Service Officer. Eva is an open minded and assertive person with great analytical skills, good in time management and loves keeping up with the current changing trends both in the accounting and others fields. She is a Certified Public Accountant in Kenya and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree – Accounting option from Kenyatta University and a Master of Business Administration Degree (Finance) from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

Jason Wiltone Mwamidi

Jason joined CORDIO East Africa in 2007 as a library assistant and promoted to the accounts department in early 2009 as Finance and Administration Officer. He is a graduate in International Freight Management and holds Certified Public Accountant (CPA II) with 8 years’ experience in library, finance and administration field. He’s currently pursuing Bachelor of Business Management in Moi University. Jason is a poet and with a strong love for nature. He likes relaxing in green and clean environment while enjoying soft music and cold breeze. Being at CORDIO shines a better day and is more cemented to work here. Day by day he feels “yesterdays are not like today”, and it’s been a source of inspiration in search for a better tomorrow.


Former staff

Former staff at CORDIO are listed below:

Michael Murunga (2014-16)

Michael a straightforward talking and eccentric person worked in CORDIO as a project assistant under the Fish and Fisheries program and later as a communication and conservation officer. He holds a first degree in Bachelors of Science in Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources Management from the University of Nairobi.

Prior to joining CORDIO in 2014, Michael worked with WWF Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean Program (MWIOPO), Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), I Choose Life Africa (ICL-Africa) and with the Hirola Conservation Project.

Michael is keen at trying new concepts and sharing research information to local communities in Africa.  He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Bremen University in German.

For further information, see the following profile pages on:

Professional networks: LinkedIn

Research networks:

Social media: Twitter


Stephen Oluoch (2007-14)

Stephen was the coordinator of the SPIDER/CORDIO funded project “Empowering women self help groups in Kenya through ICT for better education and alternative livelihood opportunities”. He holds a higher diploma in Project Planning and Management from Premese Africa Development Institute and a diploma in the same discipline at Kenya Institute of Management. Stephen has worked in multi-disciplinary projects for over 20 years with international, regional and local research and conservation organizations including the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in the Social Science Interface Research Unit (SSIRU), ICIPE/Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) and Interactive Socio-economic Research of Insect Pest Management (ISERIPM) and East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS). His current areas of focus include sustainable rural development, conservation, promotion of alternative livelihoods, capacity building using ICTs and adult literacy based on the Swedish model of adult learning with emphasis on adoption of e-learning approaches. The SPIDER project is intended to provide tools for communities along the Kenyan coast to improve their socio-economic status by embracing multiple livelihood opportunities and using the potential presented by ICTs to mitigate resource and economic shocks and uplift themselves from poverty, and play an active role in sustainable exploitation of marine resources.