Leadership, research & Conservation Action

Our Team


David Obura, PhD, MBS

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, read his full bio in the link below. 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. Her work includes research on coral reefs and small scale fisheries, management advice, and conservation action in the western Indian Ocean. She has also worked in the Pacific and Red Sea. She has contributed to fisheries policy development in Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Australia, Fiji, and Solomon Islands, and to regional marine policy development in the Western Indian Ocean. Her focus in CORDIO is ecological research on fishes to understand climate change and fishing impacts; improving artisanal fisheries management; community base conservation approaches; training of managers, researchers, and fishers and mentoring. Her areas of experience include the reproductive biology of groupers and spawning aggregations, marine protected areas, community–based coastal management, and alternative livelihoods for conservation solutions. 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 (SSG) – Groupers and Wrasses; Snapper, Seabream, and Grunt, and as Vice-Chair for Sub-Saharan Africa group of the Shark SSG. She is a member of the Society for the Protection of Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations (SCRFA), an Associate Editor of the Royal Society Open Science Journal, and on the Editorial Board of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Journal.

Programme Management

Joan Momanyi

Senior Program manager
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.

Kennedy Oalo

Project Manager
Kennedy Oalo joined CORDIO East Africa in 2023 as Project Manager. He is a dedicated humanitarian and passionate environmental enthusiast. With a decade of experience in environmental conservation, climate change adaptation, mitigation, and livelihood, Kennedy has successfully implemented sustainable community-led frameworks for rural climate action in multiple regions. An advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and community youth mentorship, Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a diploma certificate in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development. With a wide range of professional certifications, Kennedy's expertise lies in project Management, gender and climate change, renewable energy technologies, project planning and design, and environmental and natural resource management.

Coral Reef Programme

Karin Moejes, PhD

Senior Scientist/Manager
Dr. Karin Moejes joined CORDIO in 2023 as a senior scientist for its coral reef program. She has a doctorate in Marine Engineering from Liverpool John Moores University, where her research led to the development of a patent-pending sensory surface that detects and prevents biofouling in the maritime industry. Karin also possesses bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biochemistry and Genetics from the University of Sheffield. Since returning to Kenya, she has volunteered with Local Ocean Conservation and also worked at Sanergy as a research and development specialist manager, using black soldier fly larvae for waste management and as an alternative source of animal feed. Karin has a strong desire to continue to work to creatively draw on the brilliant innovations and ideas from science, policy, community and indigenous knowledge, in order to help tackle environmental and social issues.

Clare Thouless

Clare joined CORDIO in February 2022 as a fish ecology researcher. Her main focus has been in conducting marine faunal surveys through SCUBA and baited remote underwater cameras, with a focus on fish and shark species. She completed a master’s degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2021, focusing on the migration patterns of humpback whales in the south-west Atlantic. Prior to this she worked as a junior consultant with UNDP assessing grant proposals. She worked in the Seychelles, carry out coral reef and seabird surveys in early 2020. After completing a Bachelor’s degree in the UK in Zoology, she carried out a baseline SCUBA survey on the north coast of Scotland in 2018 and 2019. She is a PADI divemaster and loves being underwater.

Mishal Gudka

Senior Scientist
Mishal joined CORDIO in March 2016 and works as a senior scientist under its coral reef program. He has a MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation from the University of East Anglia and is currently pursuing his doctorate at Deakin University, Australia. 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.[/su_spoiler][/su_column][su_column size=”1/4″]

Abigail Mwalimu

Research Assistant
Abigail is a Research Assistant at CORDIO East Africa focusing on data analysis and management. She joined CORDIO in August 2021 and served as an intern for 5 months under Fish and Fisheries program. She had previously worked as a data analyst in the detailed design of the Mombasa Gate Bridge construction project for Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and as an intern at Research Partners for Africa. Abigail holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Statistics with Computing from the University of Kabianga and has a strong orientation towards designing methods for collecting and interpreting data, applying statistical techniques to model relationships between variables and making predictions, designing research systems and, effectively analyzing the resulting data. She has a passion for increasing her knowledge, experience, and capacity, in order to grow as a better person and professional. Beyond the office, she is either playing chess or adventuring.

Swaleh Aboud

Swaleh Aboud joined CORDIO as an intern in July 2019. He has since advanced into a researcher and analyst. He previously interned with Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and the State Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Blue Economy in Mombasa. He previously worked on projects with WWF on marine ecological monitoring, KWS on participatory mapping of turtle nesting sites, and KMFRI on social studies to understand the benefits of mangroves and their implications for Lamu communities. Swaleh Aboud holds an MSc in Marine Ecosystem-based Management and Climate Change from Nha Trang University in Vietnam, and a BSc in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences from the University of Eldoret in Kenya. Swaleh was raised on the Northern coast of Kenya by income from marine resources and feels obligated to contribute to the sustainable use of marine resources through scientific research, conservation, and advocating for alternative livelihoods. He is passionate about coral reef ecology and climate change, as well as their relationships to conservation and livelihoods.

Fisheries Programme

Benedict Kiilu

Senior Scientist/Manager

Kennedy Osuka, PhD

Senior Scientist
Kennedy is a senior scientist at CORDIO East Africa, working under its 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 a doctorate in Environment Science from the University of York, UK, from a master's in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management from the universities of Vrije Univesiteit Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerpen (Belgium). He has contributed in the development of responsible fisheries and building resilience to climate change policies on small-scale fishery of Kenyan coast. His areas of expertise are data management and analysis, fisheries monitoring and capacity building of fishing community through education and awareness. Kennedy aims to improve artisanal fisheries management in Kenya and in the WIO at large.

Evelyne Ndiritu

Evelyne Ndiritu joined CORDIO in January 2020 as an intern. She was promoted to a research assistant in May 2020 before once again advancing to research scientist in July 2022. Her focus is on fisheries research and working with local communities in promoting sustainable fisheries management approaches. She holds a BSc from Technical University of Mombasa in Marine Resource Management. Evelyne is currently pursuing an Msc in Fisheries and Aquaculture at Technical University of Mombasa. She is passionate about community-based management initiatives geared towards sustainable use of marine fisheries resources.

Country Lead

Joshua Rambahiniarison

Senior Scientist/Manager, Comoros & Madagascar
Joshua Rambahiniarison joined CORDIO in January 2022 as a researcher based in Comoros for the Strengthening Ocean Protection in Comoros project. Josh grew up in the French Alps, though his roots are in Madagascar. A biology graduate with a passion for diving, Josh went on to study a MSc. in Biodiversity and Sustainable Development from the University of Perpignan, France including a year studying Tropical Ecosystems at the University of Réunion, France. Josh’s main interest is in elasmobranchs. He was previously involved in the Philippines, looking into shark and rays fisheries working closely with local fishing communities, and studying species ecology, movements and distribution for conservation purposes.

Social Science Programme

Samson Obiene

Samson Joined CORDIO in January 2021 as a Social Science Researcher. He has previously served in different capacities at Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the World Bank Group. His experience spans ecosystem services assessment, conservation finance, and sustainable development. Samson is a Development Anthropology graduate who loves understanding phenomena from a community perspective.

Paul Baraka

Research Assistant
Paul Baraka joined CORDIO East Africa in 2023 as a research assistant. He has three years of experience in social science research. He is a conscientious, motivated and disciplined individual, with great initiative, personal drive and a focus on grasping and implementing new concepts and ideas in sustainable development. Paul's research interests broadly focus on socioeconomic aspects of the local communities dependent on marine resources with a focus on socio-environmental interactions and livelihoods, working with and among stakeholder communities in a bid for participatory resource management.

Community-Based Conservation Programme

Geoffrey Odhiambo

Geoffrey Odhiambo joined CORDIO East Africa in May 2023 as a research scientist for community-based conservation. He has a bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and Fisheries (2018) from Pwani University and extensive as an intern and onboard fisheries observer at the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute. His time at KMFRI allowed him to acquire extensive knowledge in fisheries, partnership building, marine conservation, community-based conservation, and fieldwork skills. He actively engaged in capacity-building initiatives for fishermen, focusing on citizen science techniques and the collection and preservation of fish samples for experimental research. As a Research Scientist, Georffrey possesses a diverse set of skills and experiences, specializing in marine ecology, community-based conservation, taxonomy, data analysis, and fisheries stock assessment. He is proficient in utilizing various data analysis tools, including FiSAT II, PAST, Microsoft Excel, SPSS, CEDA, and others.

Caroline Njeri

Research Assistant
Caroline Njeri is a research assistant at CORDIO since December 2021, having been an intern for 5 months. She’s a graduate of Technical University of Mombasa with a BSc. Marine Resource Management. She is pursing a master’s degree in Environmental Studies in Community Development at Pwani University. She is supporting Community Based Conservation work focusing on empowering women in fisheries initiatives, supporting BMU governance, development of Co-Management areas, and monitoring and evaluation. She is passionate about knowledge sharing for the successful community work done to enable other people learn through local and nature based initiatives.

Diana Jepkoech

Research Intern
Diana Jepkoech Karan joined CORDIO East Africa in 2023 as a research intern. She holds bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology and Fisheries and a master's degree in Fisheries Science from Pwani University, Kilifi. Her research interests are Marine Biology, Marine Resource Use, Conservation Genetics and Community-Based Conservation. Diana strives to learn new technologies in Marine and Fisheries Biology and other innovative approaches to marine ecosystem conservation.

Technical Support

James Mbugua

GIS Specialist & IT/Project Manager
Mbugua is a GIS and Remote Sensing specialist currently working as a project manager. He has a cumulative seven-year experience working as a spatial analyst across different projects implemented within the Western Indian Ocean region (WIO). His focus is on spatial analysis and interpretation of Earth Observation products for monitoring spatial and temporal dynamics of ecosystems. He is actively involved in data and knowledge management as well as the establishment and maintenance of CORDIO Spatial Data Infrastructure relevant to Marine Spatial Planning processes both at national and regional level. James is currently pursuing an MSc in Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing at Jomo Kenyatta University. He is a self-inspired guitarist, a lover of nature, and a certified scuba diver.

Timothy Allela

Communication Manager
Timothy Allela joined CORDIO East Africa in 2022 as Communication Manager. He is a versatile and published Development Communication professional with expertise in strategic communications, communications research, monitoring and evaluation, multimedia production, web-design, risk communication, social media management and branding. At CORDIO, he has worked to develop for the organization a communications strategy to go with its 2021-2025 strategic plan, a brand guideline to standardize CORDIO's organizational image, and the current website which replaces the old one. He holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from Bethune-Cookman University and a master's in Communication Studies (Communication for Development) from USIU-Africa.

Finance and Administration

Eva Kitaria

Head, Finance & Admin.
Eva Kitaria joined CORDIO East Africa in August 2014 as a Finance Manager. She has previously worked in the Finance departments of local, national and multinational companies (both government and private companies). Eva is a Certified Public Accountant in Kenya and holds a Master of Business Administration Degree (Finance) from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya, and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, Accounting, from Kenyatta University. She is an open minded and assertive person with great financial analysis skills, good in time management and loves keeping up with the current changing trends in Finance and other related fields.

Jane Machakuzi

Office Assistant

Jason Mwamidi

Finance & Admin. Officer

Susan Onguru

Susan Onguru joined CORDIO in March 2023. She previously ran farming, real estate and transport businesses, leveraging her education and background in Business Development, Accounting, Asset management and Administration for both B2B and B2C consumers in FMCG, INGO and corporate sector. Her other skills are organizational, relationship and entrepreneurial development, and proactive customer service. She is a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA-K) from Vision Institute of Professionals, and she holds a diplomas in Accounting (Graffins College) and Counselling and Psychology (East Africa Institute of professional Counselling). Susan is passionate team player, eager to impart a new way of doing things.

Advisory Board

Grant Ramnauth

Grant Ramnauth is a multi-cultural dual national Mauritian/French who moved to the USA at a young age and has spent the last 30 years between the UK, France, Mauritius and Southern Africa. He was a Senior Partner of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, a FTSE 100; prior to this he was with HSBC. He has spent the majority of his professional life providing investment management and financial advisory work in Sub Saharan Africa, giving him experience pertinent to fund raising. Grant has a bachelor's from London University in Science, an MBA in Investment/Finance from Hartford University USA, is a qualified and licenced UK Financial advisor and a licenced Investment advisor in Mauritius. Growing up in the USA in the 1970s, Jacques Cousteau became his hero. A TV programme ”The undersea world of Jacques Cousteau” set the scene for his passion of our ocean world. As an avid diver/seaman he is a passionate about protecting the ocean for future generations.

Ali Kaka

Ali Kaka is a well-known and prominent conservationist in East and Southern Africa, and now serves on several Boards in East and Southern Africa, and Europe. Ali was born and raised in Mombasa and received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado (Boulder), USA. Ali started his career as a Research Assistant in the then Wildlife Conservation and Management Department in 1977 and was promoted through to Warden of Kisite Marine Park in 1989, and later Senior Warden for all marine Parks. Ali left Kenya Wildlife Service in 2000 as a Deputy Director for Parks and joined East African Wildlife Society as its Executive Director. In 2009 Ali was recruited to take over the new region of East and Southern Africa for IUCN. He left IUCN in 2015 to a Senior Consultant role at Adept Conservation, before becoming Senior Wildlife Advisor to the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.

Nicola Frost

Nicola Frost is the Deputy Director of the Ocean Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI) and lives in Cambridge UK. She also serves as the Deputy Head of Secretariat for the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. As a marine scientist, Nicola has experience working in over 20 different country contexts with a range of partners at local, municipal and regional scales to design effective marine protection, with a particular emphasis on community-led or co-managed marine areas, sustainable fisheries and strategies to stop plastics entering the ocean. Prior to joining WRI, she was of the Head of Global Marine Programme for Fauna & Flora International overseeing the development of a global marine programme. Formerly Acting Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network, Nicola supported an applied global learning network for coral reef research, management and education. Nic has a degree in Marine Science from the University of Southampton, UK.

Paul Guyo

Paul Mwashimba Guyo is a Professor in Chemistry and is Dean of the School of Pure and Applied Sciences at Pwani University in Kilifi.

Gretta Pecl

Gretta Pecl is a Professor of marine ecology at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), and the Director of the Centre for Marine Socioecology (CMS), which leads the Future Seas collaboration project, at the University of Tasmania, Australia. She is a marine ‘generalist’ with broad interdisciplinary research interests, building on a background in population dynamics, fisheries biology, and movement and migration of commercial species. She currently focuses on species and ecosystem responses to climate change, and the development of adaptation options for natural resource management. She has a specific interest in exploring the mechanisms and processes underpinning climate-driven species redistribution, and the ecosystem implications of these, including initiating and co-convening the ‘Species on the Move‘ conferences. Gretta also has a very strong passion for science communication and engagement with the public, globally and nationally, and including local grass-roots efforts with school children.

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