© Mahmood Abdi

Sababi is a research institute founded in Somaliland in 2022. Our goal is to improve the quality of research conducted in understudied areas of the Horn of Africa and East Africa. We approach this goal from three main directions:

Delivering quality research and data collection services

We conduct research on behalf of both academics and international development organizations. Our work in the development sector includes quasi-experimental impact evaluations, highly contextual qualitative studies, and everything in between. Our more scholarly work is primarily social scientific. In all our research, we are committed to producing contextually-nuanced, high-quality research. We specialize in developing creative approaches to data collection challenges and measuring latent, socially-stigmatized, or otherwise difficult-to-measure outcomes. We bring years of experience conducting primary data collection in the region, a background in survey design, and a team of experienced local researchers to ensure we collect the highest-quality data possible.

Improving the information ecosystem

The context in which we work can best be described as “data scarce.” Sababi is committed to improving the information ecosystem that we operate in by collecting and publishing new data, and collating or improving access to information that is not yet digitized, assembled, translated, or publicly available. We advocate for the publication of data and research that is held privately and we work with governments and international organizations to collect new sources of administrative data that serve both governmental and research purposes. Using our networks of researchers, policymakers, media personnel, and development practitioners, Sababi also aims to promote primary and secondary data collection in regions where accessibility is a challenge.

Building local and international research capacity

Collectively, the Sababi team has managed more than 100 research, evaluation, and data-collection initiatives. We work with full-time researchers and have spent years building their their capacity to collect data, perform quality control, and manage projects.  We continue to build local capacity in this way and through active collaboration with local researchers with topical expertise. We also use our experience to support other local researchers to develop skills necessary for high-quality data collection. Finally, we aim to build interest in working in the region among international researchers through collaboration, publishing descriptive research to motivate theorizing by specialists, and through academic outreach and engagement.

Further information can be found on our website. The link below will take you to a page containing a wealth of interesting and useful information.

Further information can be found on our website. The link below will take you to a page containing a wealth of interesting and useful information.


Mahad Mohamoud Ibrahim

Mahad oversees Sababi’s Somali Portfolio, including operations and administration of Sababi’s office in Hargeisa, and all aspects of fieldwork implementation. Over the last 8 years, he has managed some of the largest fieldwork initiatives in Somalia, with teams numbering up to 60 enumerators, for organizations like CARE International, UNICEF, UNOPS, Somalia Stability Fund and others. He has also collected primary data in every region of Somalia, typically on nuanced or conceptually challenging topics (e.g., constitutional reform and democratization). From 2016 to 2019 he was a Researcher and FW Manager for Forcier Consulting, after which he was the Senior Fieldwork Manager at Consilient. Mahad graduated at the top of his class (highest distinction) at Admas University with a B.B.A. in Management in 2013 and subsequently helped coordinate Admas’ distance learning program from 2014-2016.

Brenton D. Peterson

Brenton is a political scientist who studies political behavior, social identity, and survey methodology. His research has appeared in some of the top journals in political science. Within the development sector, he specializes in evaluations of large-scale education programs, political and context analyses, and research on election- or democratization-related conflict. He has led data collection in Kenya, Somalia/Somaliland, and South Sudan. Prior to Sababi, he was the Director of Research at Consilient, based in Hargeisa (2020-2022), and served as the internal technical backstop, trainer, and reviewer of research outputs as the Chief Research Quality Officer at Forcier Consulting (2015-2020). In both positions, he focused on applying the best possible research methods in contexts where standard practices break down. He was previously a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia, and completed fieldwork in northern Kenya.


Manar Zaki

Manar is a social scientist who specializes in research on access to justice, policing, and the relationships between customary and statutory institutions. Her recent work includes studies of Somalia’s customary justice system, the justice attitudes and needs of Somali women, and community-police relations. She has developed most of the internal systems Sababi uses for monitoring and assessing data quality and has managed primary data collection over 50 fieldwork initiatives in the Horn of Africa. From 2019 to 2022 she was the Research Manager and then Director at Consilient, in Hargeisa. Prior to her work in East Africa, Manar worked in both the private and nonprofit sectors in Nepal, India, Ireland, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the US. Manar holds a Masters in Development Practice from Trinity College Dublin and a BA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.