Egyptian delegates and BAPPENAS team met to exchange practices on formulating evidence-informed policies. Photo: J-PAL SEA

Egyptian and Indonesian governments exchange best practices for evidence-based policymaking

Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Community Jameel and the Islamic Development Bank came together to strengthen social protection policies in Egypt and Indonesia through a learning exchange to promote evidence-based policymaking in both countries.
  • Organised by the Egypt Impact Lab, the learning exchange was in collaboration with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab's Middle East and North Africa and Southeast Asia offices.
  • The mission featured a series of meetings with key Indonesian ministries and agencies focused on leveraging evidence to inform policy formulation, scaling social protection initiatives and collaborative approaches to poverty reduction.

A high-level Egyptian delegation of 15 representatives from various government entities participated in a learning exchange visit in Jakarta, Indonesia from 27-31 May 2024. The learning exchange was organised by the Egypt Impact Lab (EIL) with the aim of strengthening the knowledge ecosystem in Egypt through partnerships and sharing best practices in integrating evidence into social protection programme design and implementation.

The EIL was launched in 2022 as a collaboration between the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab Middle East and North Africa (J-PAL MENA) at the American University of Cairo (AUC) and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development (MPED), based at the National Institute of Governance and Sustainable Development (NIGSD) with support from Community Jameel and the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development. The EIL works to strengthen Egypt’s poverty reduction policies by rigorously evaluating government programmes and using results to inform scale decisions.

This learning exchange was supported by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and Community Jameel, and organised in collaboration with J-PAL MENA and J-PAL Southeast Asia (J-PAL SEA) based at the Faculty of Economics and Business of Universitas Indonesia (LPEM FEB UI).

The week-long trip featured a series of visits and meetings with key Indonesian ministries and agencies, including Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS), National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K) at the Secretariat of the Vice President, Kemenko PMK (Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Cultural Affairs) and Ministry of Social Affairs (Kemensos).

Discussions centred on leveraging evidence to inform policy formulation, strategies for scaling successful social protection initiatives and collaborative approaches to poverty reduction. Site visits and workshops additionally provided an immersive learning experience.

Reham Rizk, director of the EIL, said: "This South-South learning exchange presents a unique opportunity to learn from the successes and experiences of our Indonesian counterparts. We look forward to sharing insights from Egypt’s national flagship programmes while gaining valuable knowledge to enhance the design and implementation of evidence-based social protection policies in Egypt."

The Egyptian government delegation was formally welcomed by Maliki, the deputy minister at BAPPENAS, who stressed that the visit will open up strategic opportunities for further cooperation between countries working to overcome poverty.

Maliki, deputy minister at BAPPENAS, said: "We hope this exchange of experiences can serve as a starting point for collaborative efforts among middle-income countries to improve societal welfare in a data-driven, inclusive and adaptive manner, ensuring equal opportunities and comprehensive protection. BAPPENAS, as the leading institution in policy planning for poverty reduction, population, community empowerment and national social protection, remains committed to cross-border learning. With the support of quality research, we aim to achieve our shared goals."

Lina Marliani, executive director of J-PAL SEA-LPEM FEB UI, said: "This collaborative learning will demonstrate the collaboration amongst the participating countries’ longstanding policymakers and researchers. Indonesian government delegates will draw on the country’s well-established partnership with researchers to integrate evidence into decision making, exemplified by the introduction of the nationwide 'social protection cards' to enhance transparency in the Raskin (Rice for the poor) programme and the shift from in-kind food assistance to electronic voucher distribution called bantuan pangan non-tunai (BPNT)."

Suprayoga Hadi, deputy for policy support of human development and equal development of the secretariat of the vice president of the Republic of Indonesia, said: "We positively welcome the involvement of researchers to include evidence in decision making on poverty reduction. Pentahelix collaboration can maximise efforts to reduce poverty in Indonesia."

Elan Satriawan, head of policy at the TNP2K of the vice presidential secretariat, said: "Data integration is one of the keys to poverty alleviation and can prevent exclusion errors or poor and vulnerable families who have not received assistance programmes from the government."

Sherifa Sherif, executive director of the NIGSD said: "As we are committed to monitoring and enhancing Egypt's standing in regional governance, competitiveness and sustainable development metrics, and as the host of EIL, we were delighted to witness the formal integration of the EIL in our structure. This, in turn, has a strong signalling effect on recognising the invaluable role it plays in advancing evidence-based policies and enhancing our nation's development efforts."

Uzma Sulaiman, associate director of Community Jameel, said: "We are pleased to be working with J-PAL and the Egyptian and Indonesian governments to build on the successes of the EIL. Through this initiative, we hope to create a scalable model that can foster learning between the two governments and promote stronger and more informed policies."

May Ali Babiker, director, cooperation and capacity development department at IsDB, said: "At the bank, we believe in the importance of mainstreaming a culture of evidence-based policymaking to strengthen the effectiveness of national development policies in our member countries. Thus, the bank has agreed to join hands with Community Jameel to support this learning exchange and foster long term collaboration between Indonesia and Egypt in evidence-based policymaking."

Ahmed Elsayed, executive director of J-PAL MENA at AUC, said: "By facilitating cross-country exchanges between policymakers, practitioners and researchers, we aim to build a culture of evidence utilisation. This collaborative learning effort will contribute to developing more effective and equitable social protection programmes."

The knowledge-sharing journey culminated with action plans from Egyptian delegates, outlining strategies to enhance collaboration between the EIL and government stakeholders for developing new impact evaluations addressing key challenges in social protection. Continued efforts include organising the 'Leading for evidence-informed decision-making' (LEID) events to foster an environment conducive to evidence generation and utilisation in Egypt.

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