Meet the team

Dr. Muna Ismail - Project Manager, Research Scientist



Edit 4I am interested to see Yeheb restored along with its traditional knowledge of use in the Haud areas of Somaliland and in the Somali inhabited areas in the Horn of Africa.

B.Sc. (Hons) in Applied Chemistry,

M.Sc. in Chemical Analysis

Ph.D. in Pharmacology/Phytochemical Analysis

I was lead to Initiative of Change (IofC) at a time when I needed to do some personal changes in my life that could also have some bearings on my outlook of the wider current global issues. The standards of the IofC ethos are values that resonate with my upbringing and which have great influence on how I relate to the world at large.

In late April 2015 my co-team Lewis Wallis encouraged me to come up with a plan and a budget for an exploratory trip to find out about Yeheb and its indigenous knowledge base within the pastoralists in the Haud areas of Somaliland. In mid-May 2015, a team of three including myself, made that trip to Somaliland. We discovered that Yeheb disappeared from the landscape of Haud and that its disappearance may have been more of symptomatic wider land degradation in the region.

Please refer to Scoping mission report.

My family used to own couple of farms near Mogadishu, Somalia and from a very young age I was aware about the natural environment around. An interest in trees and flora was something that was also actively encouraged in my childhood; particularly during school summer vacations when I used to visit my grandmother who had lived in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

During my university education I developed a keen interest in natural product chemistry which culminated in my doctoral research on plant-based active natural compounds.

Scott Darby - Soil Scientist


ScottI have an interest in sustainably increasing food production and availability in a manner that enhances biodiversity and increases food security. I believe that reintroducing Yeheb to Somaliland can achieve this.

  • MSc Arid Land Studies
  • BSc Environmental Science
  • An Editor for - Land restoration: reclaiming landscapes for a sustainable future

I encountered Initiatives of Change (IofC) through School for ChangeMakers which is a young person's training program that is associated with IofC.

I started working on this project at the start of 2015 but I have been planning with the founder, Dr Ismail since the summer of 2014. I could see that there was great potential in Yeheb to significantly improve the lives of a great many people and after many months of sharing ideas with Muna, I made a commitment to get to Somaliland and make a difference on the ground.

I have always had an interest in nature and the environment. Even as a child I would play outside in the woods or in my garden. The final push towards work in land restoration and helping people came from my faith. I felt inspired by the following quote about our global community:

'The believer is not the one who eats his fill when the neighbour beside him is hungry.'

It is our personal responsibility to ensure that everyone on the planet has the same access to the fundamental necessities of life such as water and food that we enjoy here in the UK.

Dr Jose M Prieto - Principal Investigator


Dr Jose M Prieto read Pharmacy (1993) and obtained a PhD in Pharmacology (2001) at the University of Valencia (Spain) in the field of topical inflammation. His Post-doctoral research activities include the EU funded projects 'Insect Chemical Ecology' (Pisa, Italy) (2001-2004) and “Medicinal Cannabis” (School of Pharmacy, University of London, UK) (2005-2006). He was then appointed as Lecturer in Pharmacognosy (UCL School of Pharmacy) where his research focuses on elucidating the effects of medicinal plants and natural products on skin conditions (inflammation and cancer), Herb-Drug Interactions and  the application of advanced techniques (Direct NMR, Artificial Intelligence) to the chemical analysis and biological effects of complex natural products. He supervised more than 10 PhD dissertations, authored over 60 original papers and chapters in books, has been advisor to the British Medicines Agency, is active consultant to the Herbal Industry and member of several editorial boards.