Tens of millions in Tanzania lack access to justice. Unable to afford lawyers and ignored by authorities, their rights are routinely violated and the settling of disputes regularly comes down to who has the most power. Because of this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark initiated a program called Legal Services Facility (LSF) and hired NIRAS to manage the program and its funds.
The LSF secretariat was established in Dar es Salaam and the design of the fund management system was completed in 2011. Since then, LSF has supported civil society organisations that assist individuals, groups and communities to claim their rights.
The support from LSF happens partly through funding and partly through capacity building of local legal aid providers as well as general awareness raising on human rights and the importance of accessible legal services.
NIRAS ended its management of LSF in December 2016, and due to a well-managed program some of the results which were only expected as long-term outcomes have already come to be. People in all districts have access to paralegals who have received training facilitated by LSF, and LSF has also helped formalize legal aid provision and contribute to the Legal Aid Bill 2016 enacted by the Tanzania Parliament.
LSF has gradually made a strategic shift from a singular focus on case-based legal aid towards inclusion of awareness building and legal empowerment. Consequently, the paralegal training was revised towards social mobilization, advocacy and navigating authorities, as well as legal education skills to pass knowledge on.
Supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
The LSF project is directly linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number 16, which aims at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.
The project has also contributed to Sustainable Development Goal no. 5 of achieving gender equality, as protection of women’s rights has been emphasized. In 2015 approximately 37,000 cases were handled by LSF-trained paralegals, and almost 20,000 of the cases were brought by women.
The LSF has, without doubts, brought significant leverage in the sector. Though many of the stakeholders are locally based organisations, the facility has managed to setup well-functioning structures with regards to financial management, reporting and lately also monitoring.
Examples of results:
- A paralegal unit in all 158 districts of Tanzania; 120 of them previously had no legal services at all
- 89% of the trained paralegals are active
- 71% of users of paralegal services are satisfied with the outcomes
- A reliable online database for paralegal activities has been created