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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work


By Liz Mahiri

After a two-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, RVI held its first in-person residential course at the end of June 2022 in Naivasha, Kenya. The programme restarted with the popular Horn of Africa course, which focuses on the history, politics and culture of Somalia, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. The course was directed by Dr Michael Woldemariam and Dr Peter Chonka who were both returning after previous stints as course directors.

Lee Cassanelli teaching on the RVI 2022 Horn of Africa Annual Course
One of the course’s interactive teaching sessions. 

What the course covered 

The course focused on the intersection of global crises with political, economic and social dynamics in the region. Key issues included the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and the war in Ukraine. It delved into how these global events are manifested in the Horn of Africa region in the form of drought, changing patterns of trade, weakened economies and undermined humanitarian efforts. Course participants also enjoyed social activities such as poetry and movie nights exploring cultural aspects of the region as well as a football match against the Great Rift Valley Resort staff team in which the latter won, following a long-standing tradition of RVI courses.   

Hotel staff, participants, teachers and local pose after the football match
The traditional football match between course participants and Great Rift Valley Resort staff. 


In addition to the directors, the course was taught by new and seasoned experts from the region and across the world, including PhD scholars Sahra Ahmed and Biruk Terrefe. Sahra is a PhD Candidate studying Somali Diaspora Humanitarianism in Complex Crises at the University of Copenhagen. Biruk is a PhD Candidate and teaching assistant at Oxford University’s Department of International Development.

The RVI 2022 Horn of Africa teaching staff
Teachers on the 2022 Horn of Africa course 


Participants included embassy representatives, development partners, researchers, security personnel, and government staff. The course was also attended by 4 scholarship participants from Somalia Public Agenda and the Diaspora Humanitarianism in Complex Crises (D-Hum), an international research consortium with partners in Kenya, Somaliland and Denmark and Somaliland.

A session during the RVI 2022 Horn of Africa Annual Course
Course participants & teachers take part in a panel discussion. 

Find out more about RVI courses

Further information about RVI’s education programme can be found here. Throughout the year the Institute also organizes tailored courses and learning events. To find out more contact at

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