UGA gets $15.75 million to research ways to reduce human trafficking

University of Georgia’s arch in downtown Athens serves as the university’s primary symbol for recognition and is the focal point of North Campus. AJC FILE

The U.S. State Department has awarded $15.75 million to the University of Georgia to conduct research and find ways to reduce human trafficking around the world, the school announced Tuesday.

The money will be used to increase efforts by the African Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery, housed at the university, to continue its anti-human trafficking work.

"In addition to strengthening current anti-trafficking efforts, the goal of APRIES is to build a global community of researchers and learners in the science of estimating human trafficking prevalence," David Okech, an associate professor of social work at UGA and director of APRIES, said in a statement.

UGA said a lack of data hampers attempts to curtail human trafficking worldwide. The university will partner scholars from universities around the world to test and develop the best ways to estimate human trafficking. A conference is scheduled for early 2020.