New lab for poverty research development

25 October 2010

Kamilla Gumede Global collaboration: Kamilla Gumede, executive director of J-PAL Africa.

The Faculty of Commerce's South African Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) has been chosen as the African base for J-PAL, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which aims to reduce global poverty by ensuring that policy is based on scientific evidence.

Supported by the Hewlett Foundation and seed money from J-PAL, SALDRU will set up the new programme to spearhead capacity-building and research in Africa.

Faculty dean Professor Don Ross says: "J-PAL is the hottest thing in development economics, and the fact that UCT has been chosen as the regional base sends an important signal to potential postgraduates. If students are interested in Africa or poverty or development, UCT is the logical place to do their research."

Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo says winning the site of the new lab is a coup for UCT.

"I couldn't be more thrilled at this development. It's hugely significant for UCT's Afropolitan vision. From its conception, the Afropolitan thrust was about positioning UCT as a place for global collaboration, providing African solutions to African problems."

For starters, the organisation will build new networks, facilitate visits and promote joint research ventures and training.

It will also work closely with similar programmes at universities in Latin America, South Asia, and Europe.

J-PAL Africa's executive director Kamilla Gumede adds: "We are very well positioned to boost capacity to run randomised evaluations in Africa, and to partner governments and NGOs, helping them make policy decisions that are more evidence-based and therefore more effective."

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