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MIT’s Abul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab is Launching a Research Center in Egypt

The MIT-backed research center will compound its decades of research, along with AUC and several other regional NGOs and organisations, to establish a culture of research and innovation in alleviating poverty in MENA.

MIT’s Abul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is deploying its prowess to help reduce poverty in the Middle East and North Africa with a new research center based in Egypt’s American University in Cairo. The regional centre will be dedicated to the ideation of innovative research and policy engagement to tackle the surging concern.

Already a pressing crisis, poverty in the region has been exacerbated by COVID-19’s implications. Last April, UNICEF estimated that the pandemic will leave four million children living under extreme poverty. An added challenge to a region that saw a staggering increase of extreme poverty rates between the years 2011 and 2015.

J-PAL MENA will lay the groundwork for a culture of dedicated research, prioritising three main pillars, which according to the MIT website are: research designed to inform high-level decision-making; policy engagement with governments, NGOs, foundations, and other organizations to bridge the gap between research and policy decisions; and professional training that helps build a culture of evidence-informed policymaking across the region. 

“The announcement of the new office in Cairo will be instrumental in bringing J-PAL’s evidence-informed approach, which has already reached more than 400 million people, to our home region,” says Fady Jameel, International President of Community Jameel. 

The research center will boast decades of compounded research by MIT, AUC and other regional entities and organisations with vast experiences in addressing policies related to forcibly displaced populations, conflict-stricken areas, youth and female unemployment, financial inclusion and small and medium-sized enterprise acceleration. The center will be led by J-PAL veterans, scientific directors Bruno Crépon, professor of economics and econometrics at ENSAE and École Polytechnique, and Adam Osman, assistant professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

"J-PAL’s regional offices are locally-grounded hubs for innovation, evaluation, and scaling,” says Iqbal Dhaliwal, global executive director of J-PAL. “For almost 15 years, our regional offices have forged close partnerships with governments, NGOs, and foundations and have supported the use of evidence in decision-making to improve the lives of tens of millions. 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.”

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