The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), together with the American University in Cairo (AUC), Community Jameel, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has announced the launch of a new regional research center in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) focused on alleviating poverty and improving lives through evidence-informed policymaking.
Based at the AUC’s School of Business and launched in collaboration with global philanthropy Community Jameel, J-PAL MENA becomes J-PAL’s seventh regional center. Since J-PAL launched at MIT in 2003 it has founded flagship research centers in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, South Asia, Southeast Asia.
J-PAL’s rigorous, scientific approach to evaluating social programs and policies helps shed light on the most effective approaches to reducing poverty. J-PAL MENA will bring this approach to the region, leading on three main activities:
1. Using the Nobel Prize-winning experimental approach to inform high-level decision-making;
2. Working with governments, NGOs, foundations, and other organizations to bridge the gap between research and policy; and
3. Leading training and workshops for policy professionals and researchers to help build a culture of evidence-informed policymaking across the region.
Iqbal Dhaliwal, global executive director of J-PAL, said: “With the launch of J-PAL MENA, I am thrilled that J-PAL will have a permanent home in the region and deepen our work with committed partners in Egypt and across MENA.”
Sherif Kamel, dean of AUC’s School of Business, said: “With J-PAL MENA we aim to build an ecosystem for evidence-based policy, crowding in regional academics and training future development researchers, forging partnerships with policymakers, and bridging the gap between academic research and policymakers in the region.”
Fady Jameel, president, international, Community Jameel, said: “The concept of supporting communities has been in the family’s heritage for 75 years and this same concept has been key to J-PAL’s work around the world since it was founded in 2003. The announcement of the new office in Cairo will be instrumental in bringing J-PAL’s evidence-informed approach to our home region, which uses randomized evaluations to identify programs that can have the biggest positive impact on the most vulnerable communities in MENA.”
“With endless energy and ingenuity, Community Jameel continues to help MIT find new ways to spur positive change for vulnerable communities around the world,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “J-PAL’s expansion into the MENA region comes at an opportune moment, when the COVID-19 pandemic is having especially devastating effects on those living in poverty. Reflecting the bold and generous spirit of the Jameel family, J-PAL MENA will be a catalyst for research, partnerships and programs that will improve people’s lives.”