The University of Nairobi in partnership with the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) received support from the World Bank in 2019 for preparatory activities for the establishment of the Center for Land Acquisition and Resettlement Studies (CELARS). The center is domiciled in College of Humanities and Social Sciences and spearheaded by the Department of Sociology and Social Work. Prof. Edward Ontita is the Team Leader of the project. The project team is drawn from Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, School of Law, Department of Real Estate and Department of Geospatial and Space Technology among others. The preparatory activities which included training of trainers, curriculum development, benchmarking and rollout of the National Course on Land Acquisition and Resettlement Management (LARM) were funded by the World Bank to the tune of USD 50,000. The second phase of the project that commenced in June 2020, runs for about four years, and entails the construction of a new campus to house CELARS at Kilimani Area in Nairobi at a cost of USD 7 Million. The Office of the Vice Chancellor has been very supportive to the project all along.
The CELARS project moves the Department of Sociology and Social Work to the center of Sustainable Development Practice. This is through working with other professionals on issues around social risk management and ensuring that development projects do no harm to host communities and other stakeholders. Additionally, the project enables the university to develop linkages with industry in ways that facilitate distillation of lessons from the field and co-testing of concepts and methods from the academy to tackle challenges in the field.