A new collaboration launched recently between the University and UNICEF will help to create a new, publicly accessible database of experts in social policy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to help improve policy responses.

With a growth in interest in social policy issues affecting the region, the project will support emerging development initiatives to better connect policy-makers with MENA experts. The work is a collaboration between the University’s Department of Social & Policy Sciences and the Bath Institute for Mathematical Innovation, commissioned by UNICEF MENA Regional Office in Jordan.

Through conducting interviews and questionnaires, the researchers involved want to identify individuals and institutions with social policy expertise relevant to UNICEF’s work in MENA. This will feed into work to map experts to topics relating to child poverty, social protection, and public finance for children and decentralisation and local government.

The end project will be a large-scale database accessible to all. It is thought this will be the first large-scale database of expertise of its kind covering the MENA region.

Principle Investigator Dr Rana Jawad from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences said: “This database will help to systemise the knowledge base on social policy in the MENA region, a field of expertise which can add significant insights to our understanding of the social and political challenges this region faces.”

Arthur van Diesen, Regional Social Policy Advisor for the UNICEF MENA Region, commented: “Children and their families face challenges of unimaginable proportions in the MENA region. UNICEF works with Governments in the region to find social policy solutions for these challenges, in an effort to provide every child with a fair chance in life.

“Through the collaboration with the University of Bath we aim to mobilise all available expertise to work towards this objective. This will not only contribute to a stronger impact of UNICEF’s programmes in the region, but will strengthen regional collaboration and facilitate the efforts of all who work in the field of social policy in MENA.”

Professor Jonathan Dawes, Director of IMI, said: “Bath IMI is really pleased to be participating in this novel project addressing key policy issues. The project shows the value that we can add through joining up Bath’s strengths, linking our data handling expertise to our knowledge of the social policy context.”

Individuals with relevant expertise can be included in this database, or individuals can recommend other experts and institutions to be included by completing the UNICEF MENA survey. Experts will be asked to include relevant publications or examples of expertise.

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