International Development Expert Sudhanshu Handa Joins the American Institutes for Research as Institute Fellow

Handa will support and guide AIR’s international work and lead efforts to diversify the behavioral and social sciences globally

Arlington, Va.Sudhanshu ‘Ashu’ Handa, a distinguished expert on poverty, health, and human development in sub-Saharan Africa, has joined the American Institutes for Research (AIR) as an Institute Fellow. Handa is AIR’s first full-time, internationally based Fellow, working out of the Institute’s office in Nairobi, Kenya.

Ashu Handa

Handa will work with AIR’s International Development Division on evaluations of social protection, maternal, and child health programs to inform global policy, practice and decision making. He will also empower and train Ph.D. students and early-career investigators at African universities to generate and use evidence for decision-making around policies directed at reducing poverty, inequality and social exclusion.

“Ashu Handa has had a distinguished career in international development as an economist, researcher, policymaker, teacher and leader,” said David Seidenfeld, senior vice president of the International Development Division. “We are excited to have him as an AIR Fellow to help us continue to improve outcomes and inform policy across the globe. Ashu’s deep experience and expansive network will be an invaluable asset in pursuit of our mission, as we seek to create a better and more equitable world.”

Handa has been a professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for nearly 20 years. From 2013 to 2016, he served as chief of social and economic policy at UNICEF's Office of Research-Innocenti, where he led the Innocenti Report Card Series, UNICEF's flagship publication on the well-being of children in wealthy countries.

Handa is also co-principal investigator of The Transfer Project, which seeks to understand the broad effects of government-sponsored cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Other recent work includes studying the long-term effects of cash transfers in Zambia and Malawi and studying interventions to improve cooking technology in Africa to prevent disease caused by household pollution.

“AIR has a strong and growing commitment to international development, and I am so pleased to be joining their team to help empower and support researchers around the world and collaborate on finding solutions to some of the most significant challenges facing our global communities,” Handa said.

About AIR
Established in 1946, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of education, health and the workforce. AIR's work is driven by its mission to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world. With headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, AIR has offices across the U.S. and abroad. For more information, visit

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