Professor Effiom Essien Oku

Professor Effiom Essien Oku is Director, Research and Training. He joined the Agency in January 2022 from the University of Abuja, Nigeria. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of thirty years in International Development at the United Nations, Teaching and Research in Ghana, Nigeria and Namibia. 

He holds a PhD in Soil Physics and Climate Change Science, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. A Graduate Diploma from the British College of Professional Management. He is also a scholar of the UNESCO owned Abdul Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy and a Charles Darwin Professor of the Institute of Biopaleogeography (IBPG), Poland.

At the University of Abuja, Professor Oku taught and guided postgraduate research. Area of research and teaching interests include Soil Physics, Agricultural Meteorology, Climate Change Science, Agrohydrology, Desert Agriculture, Green and Blue Economy with Climate finance. His work experiences include Associate Professor/ Senior Research Fellow, Head of Land and Water Programme of the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) headquartered in Japan. 

He was also privileged to attend and complete the 2007 College on Soil Physics at the Earth System Physics and Climate Change Unit of the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) under a fellowship. Funding was provided by the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA) for ‘Africa’s best and brightest brain’.

While based in Ghana, he coordinated the programme in five operating Units in Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Senegal and Zambia. From 2014 to 2016, he was a visiting Research Professor at the Embrapa Soils (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation). Professor Oku was also Africa’s team leader in the Embrapa, Brazil funded project no 1393 on developing innovative Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Cropping Technologies in the dryland of Upper East Ghana.

Professor Oku is currently serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for Ghana and Nigeria for the Vetiver International Network (TVIN). He promotes the use of Vetiver Grass Technology as a Nature-based Solution (Nbs) for climate change mitigation, adaptation and disaster prevention and control. He is a mentor of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), a Kenyan-based International Organisation promoting the involvement of Women in Science.

He has also led many United Nations Universities (UNU) projects in both the public and private sectors. Among them is the UN Ghana ‘deliver-as-one’ joint project team on building a climate-resilient agricultural landscape in Northern Ghana. It involved FAO, UNU, UNDP, WFP and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Ghana. In the private sector, the


consortium won the competitive grant from the World Bank with the subsequent establishment of the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC).

Professor Oku was Africa Focal Person and Co-Leader of the United Nations University-Institute Integrated Management of Materials Fluxes and Resources (UNU-FLORES). Dresden, Germany. He worked on the advancing integrated soil and water management for climate-adapted land use in low fertility areas of sub-Saharan Africa, implemented in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia.

 He is a member of many professional bodies, some of which include:

  • Nigeria Institute of Soil Science
  • Life Member of the Soil Conservation Society of India
  • International Society for Agricultural Meteorology 
  • International Union of Soil Science
  • Soil Science Society of Nigeria
  • African Soil Science Society 
  • East Africa Soil Science Society
  • African Forest Forum
  • Nigerian Institute of Management

 Prof Oku is happily married with Children.