Egypt Impact Lab launches to strengthen evidence-based policy and development outcomes

Cairo, Egypt

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Middle East and North Africa at The American University in Cairo (J-PAL MENA at AUC), represented by Dr Ahmed S. Dallal, and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MPED), represented by Her Excellency Hala El Said, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Thursday March 17, 2022 to launch the Egypt Impact Lab to strengthen evidence-informed policy and improve development outcomes in Egypt. The signing of the MoU took place at The American University in Cairo (AUC).

The Egypt Impact Lab is a collaboration between MPED and J-PAL MENA at AUC that aims to strengthen the effectiveness of Egypt’s poverty reduction policies by rigorously evaluating promising and innovative government programmes and using results to inform scale decisions. The Lab will build a culture of evidence-informed decision-making across government by building partners’ capacity to use evidence in programme design and delivery, and using administrative data to facilitate evidence-generation.

The Egypt Impact Lab’s work will revolve around top government priorities: reducing poverty in rural Egypt, improving the effectiveness of social protection, promoting microenterprise development, and increasing access to economic opportunities and family planning to empower females. The Lab will work with strategic partners: the Ministry of Social Solidarity, the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, the National Council for Women, and the National Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development to strengthen the impact of major national programs and initiatives, including Hayah Karima and the Family Development Fund to improve development outcomes for Egyptians.

The Egypt Impact Lab is made possible with generous support from founding partners Sawiris Foundation for Social Development (SFSD) and Community Jameel, with additional support from United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Egypt.

The launch event contained two in-depth panel discussions that focused on the poverty alleviation, and family development and women’s empowerment themes of the lab; highlighting innovative government initiatives and sharing relevant insights from J-PAL’s existing evidence base.

Speaking on behalf of J-PAL MENA at AUC, Alison Fahey, J-PAL MENA Executive Director, said: "The Government of Egypt is embarking on many major poverty reduction and human development initiatives, and J-PAL MENA at AUC is excited to be partnering with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and other government strategic partners to generate rigorous evidence about the most effective ways to improve development outcomes for Egyptians. The Egypt Impact Lab is an innovative collaboration; while it builds on J-PAL’s global experience, we are together doing something really bold and new, which puts the Government of Egypt at the forefront of integrating evidence in policy."

Speaking on behalf of MPED, H.E. Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, said: “In Egypt, the government is firmly committed to ensure an enlightened future for Egyptians, and place the country at the forefront of economic, social, and technological advancement… We believe that promoting the utilisation of evidence-based policy is our way forward to augment and complement such efforts, ultimately translating our broad aspirations into tangible outcomes for Egyptians. In this regard, the Egypt Impact Lab plays a vital role in addressing the government development priorities and reinforcing the impact of national initiatives.”

Speaking on behalf of SFSD, Noura Selim, Executive Director, SFSD, reflected on how SFSD has evolved over the last 20 years to invest in evidence and the production of knowledge. She expressed that the foundation is honoured to be part of this vital national initiative to produce rigorous evidence.

George Richards, Director, Community Jameel, said: “Supporting evidence-based policymaking is a priority for Community Jameel, and we are honoured to be joining J-PAL MENA and a consortium of strategic partners, in government and beyond, to launch this Egypt Impact Lab. From the Jameel Management Centre at AUC’s Downtown campus (now the Greek Campus), to the Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Fustat, to COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh later this year, Community Jameel is proud to be working with Egyptian institutions, researchers and creative communities to strengthen systems of science and traditional knowledge in a common effort to tackle global challenges.”

Jeremy Hopkins, the UNICEF Representative in Egypt, said: “The launch of the Egypt Impact Lab is a critical foundation block for better development outcomes for children, especially when impact evaluation is focused on the considerable government investment in ensuring the achievement of the SDGs and Egypt 2030 Vision. At UNICEF, we use evidence to drive change, to identify issues affecting children and to understand the scale of the challenges which children and their families face. We are very pleased to support the Egypt Impact Lab and we are committed to channeling additional resources to support the government in its design and scale-up of effective programs for the wellbeing of all children in Egypt.”

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