Air and Water Labs

Top: An Egyptian man collects grass in his boat. Bottom left: A man walking through air pollution in India. Bottom right: Two people cleaning a polluted river in Cape Town, South Africa
Photo credit: Nick Brundle Photography, (top), Saurav022, (bottom left), Roxane 134, (bottom right)

In partnership with Community Jameel, the Air and Water Labs work closely with government partners to co-generate evidence-based solutions for the most pressing air and water challenges in Africa, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and South Asia. 

The Air and Water Crisis

There is no substitute for clean air and water. Africa, MENA, and South Asia are on the front lines of the global air and water crises, facing high levels of water scarcity and worsening air and water quality that leads people to live shorter and sicker lives. 

Solutions to these problems are scarce, often because data and evidence on policies that work are limited. The resulting uncertainty around the most effective course of action makes it difficult for governments to enforce policies, and ultimately further harms vulnerable communities. 

In 2020, in partnership with King Philanthropies, J-PAL launched the King Climate Action Initiative (K-CAI), our flagship program to vastly expand work on climate change and poverty across J-PAL worldwide. 

Extending K-CAI’s work and in partnership with Community Jameel, J-PAL Africa, MENA, and South Asia are leading three Air and Water Labs with government partners in Egypt, India, and South Africa. Together the labs aim to improve clean air and water access for millions of people by informing the decisions of city, state, and national governments.


Community Jameel

About the Air and Water Labs

The Air and Water Labs are embedded within key government partners to increase their access to evidence and spark collaboration with researchers to innovate, test, and scale evidence-informed air and water policies. Through the labs in Africa, MENA, and South Asia, J-PAL will work with our government partners to: 

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Co-diagnose the most pressing air and water challenges and opportunities for policy innovation.

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Expand policymakers’ access to and use of high-quality air and water data, because better and more transparent data on the extent and sources of air and water pollution can help build capacity and political will to change the status quo.

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Co-design potential solutions informed by existing evidence, design more targeted policies, and use data to monitor progress.

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Co-generate evidence on promising solutions through pilots and randomized evaluations leveraging existing and new data sources, measure the effectiveness of potential solutions, and determine which ones should be scaled up.

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Support scaling of air and water policies and programs that are found to be effective

Air and Water Labs Worldwide

Solutions and Advancements through Research for Water and Air (SARWA)

The Air and Water Lab in India is known as the Solutions and Advancements through Research for Water and Air (SARWA). J-PAL South Asia is exploring collaboration opportunities with the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board under SARWA as part of its efforts to accelerate the adoption of scientific evidence and data for designing impactful air and water policies. 

Water, Air, and Energy (WAE) Lab

The Air and Water Lab in South Africa is known as the Water, Air, and Energy (WAE) Lab. J-PAL Africa is collaborating with the City of Cape Town to co-generate research and inform the scaling of evidence-based programs and policies that effectively improve access to clean air, water, and reliable energy for Capetonians.


Request for Proposals

Full randomized evaluations and path-to-scale proposals for AWL funding are submitted to the K-CAI Board on the K-CAI RFP schedule. For these project types short expressions of interest are due on Thursday, February 29, 2024, and full proposals are due on Thursday, April 4, 2024.

Proposal development and pilot proposals will be accepted according to each lab’s review schedule:

  • India (SARWA): Pilot and proposal development grant applications accepted on the same schedule as K-CAI’s RFP: EOIs are due February 29, 2024, and full proposals are due April 4, 2024

  • Cape Town, South Africa (WAE Lab): Pilot and proposal development grant applications accepted on a rolling basis.

Egypt (HAPIE): HAPIE serves as J-PAL’s regional Air and Water Lab in Egypt and as such it serves as the Egypt Impact Lab (EIL)’s extension in a new thematic area related to environment, energy, and climate change. Please navigate to the EIL RFP page for instructions. 

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