What not-to-do: Wisdom from years of trials (and errors)

Shobhini Mukerji, executive director of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia shares insights and lessons learnt in evidence-based poverty reduction in a three-part series following the lab's January 2024 public exhibition in New Delhi, 'Shaping policy, transforming lives'.


In January 2024, J-PAL South Asia organized its first ever public exhibition—'Shaping policy, transforming lives'—to celebrate J-PAL’s 20 years of fighting poverty around the world using scientific evidence. The exhibition was a carefully curated selection of field stories by J-PAL South Asia staff from across India. Told through the written word, photographs and artefacts, these stories embody two decades of the transformative impact of randomised evaluations in improving the lives of people.

'Shaping policy, transforming lives' underscored the relevance of randomised evaluations to design poverty alleviation policies in India and elsewhere in the world. J-PAL South Asia—with its team of 230 research and policy specialists and large teams of field surveyors—has been working with its government and civil society partners across India for over a decade-and-a-half to implement rigorously tested policy interventions.

In this three-part series, J-PAL South Asia executive director Shobhini Mukerji reflects on the lessons learnt from these experiences as she builds her what-not-do-list to realise J-PAL’s goal of a poverty-free world.