Harriet Birungi is the country director of the Population Council's Kenya office and a senior associate. Birungi, a medical anthropologist, leads the conceptualization and implementation of targeted operations research programs, and forges partnerships with the scientific community, policymakers, program managers, and donors to advance the Council’s mission.
Birungi began her research career in 1988 at the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Uganda, where she coordinated policy and academic research. She joined the Council in 2000, and from 2000 to 2009 worked as an associate managing the development, implementation, and monitoring of the FRONTIERS program in Anglophone Africa, with the goal of improving the quality of reproductive health services through operations research. From 2008–2012, she directed the Council’s USAID-funded AIDS, Population and Health Integrated Assistance (APHIA) II Operations Research project in Kenya. Birungi currently directs the STEP UP (Strengthening Evidence for Programming on Unintended Pregnancy) Research Program Consortium with research activities in Bangladesh, India, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal.
Birungi's research evaluates the intersection between medicine and sexuality, particularly as both areas are the focus of governmental regulations. She also seeks to uncover and address the most pressing reproductive health needs of adolescents. Birungi is a member of the High-Level Group of key African regional leaders on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, education, and rights. She served on the Advisory Committee for the Joint WOTRO/MFS II Evaluation of International Lobbying and Advocacy. She has published extensively and presented at numerous international conferences.
Birungi holds a BA in social sciences from Makerere University, Uganda, an MA in development studies from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands, and a PhD in Medical Anthropology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.