The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab will use their new base at the American University in Cairo to innovate a field that is endlessly complex by nature - the fight against poverty.
When many of us hear the acronym MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), we think of top-level scientists working on something diabolical – you know, like in the movies. Naturally, a billionaire villain of vague origins is trying to get his hands on it, but then Tom Cruise swoops in and saves the day. Now, we’re not saying that MIT aren’t dangerously exploring technological singularity, robot astronauts or whatever the next step in technology might be, but the truth is that the American research university’s work extends well beyond what Hollywood has fed us – including eradicating poverty.
This has been the goal of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) since its launch in 2003. As part of that goal, J-PAL is set to launch a new research centre at the American University in Cairo as an entry point to the Middle East. What the centre aims to do is innovate research and policy engagement, with the ultimate goal of reducing poverty in the region. The centre intends to do this by focusing on three areas: research designed to inform high-level decision-making; policy engagement with governments, NGOs and other organisations to bridge the gap between research and policy decisions; and professional training to build evidence-informed policymaking across the region. It all sounds pretty lofty, but when you break it down, it all comes down to a sort-of greasing of the wheels in a field that is forever complicated by its very nature – a filler and connector of gaps in the fight against poverty in the region.
J-PAL have worked in collaboration with AUC before, but what a dedicated centre in the heart of the region does is dial up the urgency and trigger change from within.
“For 15 years, our offices have forged close partnerships with governments, NGOs and foundations,” Iqbal Dhaliwal, Global Executive Director of J-PAL, said. “With the launch of J-PAL MENA, I am thrilled that we will have a permanent home in the region and deepen our work with partners in Egypt and MENA.”