The African Drylands Institute for Sustainability (ADIS) started as a partnership project ( April 2011- November 2014) between the University of Nairobi (UoN) and Colorado State University (CSU), and was supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Higher Education for Development (HED) initiative. The project was based at the College of Agriculture & Veterinary Sciences (CAVS) with an aim of transforming higher education in Africa at the University of Nairobi through the establishment of a centre for sustainable drylands and societies within the University. The centre was designed to engage in education, action research and programs that support dryland communities in Kenya to adapt to changes affecting their sustainability.
The implementation of the Center’s activities was done by University of Nairobi and CSU with support of Reto-o-Reto Foundation, (local conservation-based NGO).
Following the successful implementation of the partnership project, a proposal was mooted to the University of Nairobi in 2014 to establish ADIS, a specialized institute for drylands with a broader mandate of contributing to sustainable ecosystems and livelihoods of dryland communities in Kenya.
ADIS was then officially inaugurated as an institute in September 2015.