Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono offered the keynote address at the launch, which was attended by more than 300 international and local researchers, government officials and bilateral and multilateral agencies. “I would certainly like to invite J-PAL to help strengthen our efforts to combat poverty, especially through rigorous studies and impact evaluations of our poverty eradication policies,” Yudhoyono said. “I would like to obtain insights from J-PAL's findings in order to enhance and improve the ways of how to fight poverty in Indonesia.”
The launch event also featured speeches from Prof. Dr. Ir. Muhammad Anis, rector of the Universitas Indonesia, and J-PAL Director Abhijit V. Banerjee, who serves with President Yudhoyono on the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel of eminent persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
J-PAL is an international network of researchers that specializes in determining which development programs work, which do not, and why. Established in 2003 and headquartered at MIT, J-PAL is known for pioneering the use of randomized control trials to test the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. J-PAL’s network of more than 80 affiliated professors has produced more than 350 randomized evaluations in 52 countries, and more than 63 million people have been reached by policies found to be effective by J-PAL studies.
Since 2007, J-PAL has partnered with the government of Indonesia and local researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of and test innovative poverty reduction programs in the country. “We are excited to expand our partnerships with policymakers in Southeast Asia to learn which development programs are truly effective and use these findings to improve how we fight poverty in the region,” Banerjee said.
J-PAL Southeast Asia is based at the Institute of Economic and Social Research (LPEM-FEUI) within the Universitas Indonesia’s Faculty of Economics. “I believe that the collaboration between J-PAL and LPEM-FEUI will enhance both research and action to combat poverty, especially in Indonesia,” Anis said.
Australia, through AusAID, has provided $5.6 million over four years to J-PAL for establishment of the Southeast Asia office, which will support researchers to generate more evidence on a broader range of anti-poverty programs. J-PAL Southeast Asia will also build the capacity of local researchers and policymakers to evaluate the effectiveness their efforts to combat poverty.
J-PAL is hosting a policy and research conference at Universitas Indonesia on June 26, in which academics, donors and researchers will set the research and policy priorities of the new office.