Hanna to Serve as Scientific Director at New J-PAL Office in Indonesia

July 10, 2013
By Doug Gavel, HKS Communications

Defining new and improved ways to help the poor has long been a theme of Associate Professor Rema Hanna's research and field work. A member of HKS’s Evidence for Policy Design program (EPoD) at the Center for International Development (CID), she has worked on numerous studies in Indonesia over the last eight years, with objectives ranging from how to provide technical assistance to farmers to how to target the poor for social assistance programs.

Hanna will continue her work in Indonesia as the scientific director of the newly created Southeast Asian office of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) based at the Institute for Economic and Social Research at the University of Indonesia. The office is generously supported by the Austrialian Aid Agency with a grant of 5.7 million dollars for the next four years, which funds both core support and new research initiatives.

J-PAL, based at MIT, is a global research center that uses randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty. The Southeast Asia office officially opened June 25th, with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (known as SBY) delivering the keynote address to the 350 attendees.

“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 told the audience. “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.”

Hanna introduced the president at the event and had the opportunity to speak with him personally. “SBY’s support for our work in Indonesia, and in general for the use of rigorous evaluation of policy, was very inspiring,” Hanna said. “And, it was made all the more memorable to have so many of our friends and colleagues in Indonesia gather to support our new endeavor.”

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Rema N. Hanna, associate professor of public policy

Rema N. Hanna, associate professor of public policy

“[President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's] support for our work in Indonesia, and in general for the use of rigorous evaluation of policy, was very inspiring,” Hanna said.