A new collaboration between the Middle East and North Africa regional office of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab and Egypt’s Ministry of Planning and Economic Development aims to strengthen the effectiveness of Egypt’s poverty reduction policies. poverty through rigorous evaluation and innovation.
The new initiative, the Egypt Impact Lab, will connect academics with government partners to rigorously assess the impact of promising and innovative government programs. The results of these evaluations will inform decisions to scale up the most effective programs across the country, potentially reaching millions of low-income people.
The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab was started at MIT in 2003 by MIT co-founders and professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, who were awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics for their pioneering research on poverty alleviation. Banerjee, Duflo, and more than 250 J-PAL-affiliated researchers at universities around the world conduct real-world, laboratory-style randomized controlled trials, applying precise measurement to assess the effectiveness of developmental and social programs in the education, labor markets, agriculture and women’s empowerment, among other topics.
J-PAL launched its seventh regional office, J-PAL Middle East and North Africa (MENA), at the American University in Cairo in 2020 to expand this work in the MENA region after spending many years establishing partnerships and to work with academics and local decision-makers. .
The launch of the Egypt Impact Lab reflects the critical importance of poverty reduction in Egypt, where almost a third of the population lives below the poverty line. The lab’s research and policy work will revolve around key government priorities, including poverty reduction in rural Egypt, improving the effectiveness of social protection programs, promoting microenterprise development and improved access to economic opportunities and family planning to empower women.
“We believe that promoting the use of evidence-based policies is our way forward to augment and complement these efforts, ultimately translating our broad aspirations into tangible results for Egyptians,” said Hala El Said, Egyptian Minister of Health. planning and economic development. “In this regard, the Egypt Impact Lab plays a critical role in addressing government development priorities and enhancing the impact of national initiatives.
The lab will work with key Egyptian government partners, including the Ministry of Social Solidarity; the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency; the National Council of Women; and the National Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Through these partnerships, the lab will enhance the impact of key national programs and initiatives, including Hayah Karima, an initiative to improve the quality of life of rural Egyptians, and the National Family Development Program, which focuses on empowerment. women and families.
Through this work, the Egypt Impact Lab is designed to help create a culture of evidence-based decision-making across government by building the capacity of partners to use evidence in design and implementation. program execution.
“The Egyptian government is embarking on many major poverty reduction and human development initiatives,” noted Alison Fahey, Executive Director of J-PAL MENA. “J-PAL MENA at AUC is delighted to partner with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and other government partners at this important time to bring an evidence-based and innovation-driven approach to this work.”
The Egypt Impact Lab was made possible through the support of its founding partners, Community Jameel and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, with additional support from UNICEF Egypt.
“Supporting evidence-based policymaking is a priority for Community Jameel, and we are honored to join J-PAL MENA and a consortium of strategic partners, within government and beyond, to launch this Egypt Impact Lab “, said George Richards, Director of Community Jameel. “From the Jameel Management Center on the AUC’s Downtown Campus (now the Greek Campus), to the Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Fustat, to COP27 [the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference] in Sharm el-Sheikh later this year, Community Jameel is proud to work with Egyptian institutions, researchers and creative communities to strengthen science and traditional knowledge systems in a common effort to address global challenges.
Iqbal Dhaliwal, Global Executive Director of J-PAL, spoke about the importance of partnerships to add value to government-led policies and programs. “We are grateful to Community Jameel, whose generous donation made it possible to create JPAL MENA; The American University in Cairo, which has been a great host for our regional office; and our government partners, whose innovation and commitment to evidence-based policymaking is the foundation of our work together,” said Dhaliwal. “This new lab demonstrates the potential of rigorous anti-poverty research to not only support decision-making at the highest levels, but also to help transform the lives of those who need it most.
The Egypt Impact Lab launch event (a recording of which can be viewed via the J-PAL website), included remarks from Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development; Nivine El-Kabbag, Minister of Social Solidarity; Ahmad Dallal, president of the American University in Cairo; and J-PAL co-founder and MIT professor Abhijit Banerjee.