Evans Muswahili Ladema, Kituo’s paralegal from Vihiga Community Justice Centre pose for
a photo at the UN Climate Change Conference COP27

Community paralegals can come in to address the environment and Climate In Justices faced by communities. As reservoirs of information, community paralegals can create awareness at the community level on issues of climate change and make communities aware of the need to tackle Climate Change. Paralegals can carry out advocacy work on climate change thus help organize communities to demand change.
Evans Muswahili Ladema, Kituo’s paralegal from Vihiga Community Justice Centre who is so passionate about the environment and Climate Justice participated at the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 that started on 6th and stretched through to 18th of November in Egypt, courtesy of generous funding from the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and UN Climate Change accreditation facilitated by Kituo Cha Sheria and Namati Kenya.

COP27 presents an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together to find concrete solutions to the global climate emergency, including mitigation, adaptation and resilience, loss and damage, and climate finance.
Evans spoke on behalf of the poor and marginalized in Kenya seeking climate justice. His presentation touched on three key issues; relationships between food systems and climate change, scaling regenerative food systems as a climate solution, and gender issues in food systems and climate action. He looks forward to having the ambitious goals and commitments set by UN member states in reducing global warming put into practical action.


Members of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ) together with the regional and international partners in community justice

Members of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ) together with the regional and international partners in community justice on 19th October 2022 convened for a 2-day participatory meeting in Nairobi to discuss and draft an action plan in preparation for the High-Level Political Forum 2023 (HLPF) side event.
The action plan will clarify the necessary resources, formulate a timeline, and detail the necessary tasks to be completed to ensure a successful event. A key focus for HLPF2023 will be on financing. A possible topic for consideration is the ‘Challenges and opportunities around financing community-based justice.
This Side-event of the HLPF, held outside the official programme provides a great opportunity to discuss the theme and SDGs under review at the HLPF2023, identify new and emerging issues, and help spread greater awareness of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
While African governments have made commitments under goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063/2 of the African Union to ensure access to justice for all, in reality, a significant number of people from the continent lack access to justice.
Building momentum towards key 2023 “moments” will to help hold governments accountable to SDG16+, and to pressure them to make more concrete commitments to action by showcasing civil society action around SDG16+ through “Storytelling” efforts, to highlight the leading role that civil society is playing to advancing SDG16+

Members of the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice (ACE-AJ) together with the regional and international partners in community justice conducting a group discussion

ACE-AJ will continue to mobilize support across civil society for SDG16+ action and commitments around key 2023 “moments”, including the 2023 SDGs Summit and “Summit for the Future”. Additionally, ACE-AJ will mobilize resources to support grassroots actions around SDG16+ at the national and local levels, to build out more localized movements led by key civil society partners.


Group photo of the takeholders including government officials, civil society and refugee led organizations.

Kituo cha Sheria, through the Forced Migration Programme conducted a 2-day capacity building for Refugee Led organizations (RLOs) at Waridi Paradise Hotel in Nairobi. The training that took place on 21st and 22nd Nov. 2022 covered basics in Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), the Refugee Act 2021, Durable solutions as provided for in the Act in relation to RLOs operations, Financial management, Advocacy strategies and Principles of corporate governance.

Through the support of Open Society Foundations Kituo continues to build the Capacity of the refugee-led organizations to enhance meaningful participation, collaboration and protection of refugee rights.

High Court Judge, John Chigiti facilitating a session on Intersex refugee children during our engagement meeting with stakeholders including government officials, civil society and refugee led organizations.

All over the world, people are fleeing persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Intersex refugee children face discrimination, violence and exclusion. It’s our duty as human rights defenders to create awareness on Intersex refugee children’s rights.

Conversations inform policy and reminds the state that they have an obligation to enforce positive rights. All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are.


Paralegals of refugee community and refugee led organizations pose for a photo with their certificates upon successful completion of the training

Kituo Cha Sheria through the Forced Migration Programme conducted a 5-day training for paralegals of refugee community and refugee led organizations at Waridi Hotel Nairobi. The training that took place from 26th October to 1st November 2022 aimed at empowering refugee led organisations and the refugees in particular on approach to justice for the vulnerable in the refugee community and promoting intercultural diversity for peaceful engagement in conflict situations among the refugee and host community.
The paralegals among the refugee community and refugee led organizations will also be sensitized on mental health and psychosocial support into peace-building efforts and building cohesion.
Upon successful completion of the training, Kituo officially launched a justice centre in Nairobi under the Youth Voices Community as a way to decentralize legal empowerment and peace building initiatives to the refugee communities.
Kituo’s Executive Director Dr. Annette Mbogoh who officiated the opening of the justice centre and graduation ceremony welcomed this timely partnership. She stated that Kituo has been receiving overwhelming cases from the refugee community on police harassment, general lack of knowledge of refugee issues, negative and discriminatory attitudes from local populations and barriers to foreign qualifications recognition.

Paralegals from the Youth Voices Community receiving administrative support materials including laptop and printer from Dr. Annette Mbogoh, Kituo’s Executive Director.

She encouraged the refugee paralegals to use the knowledge gained to empower their fellow refugees and asylum seekers by providing guidance on their rights and obligations as well as information regarding their asylum application and their refugee status, offering advice on their cases, making referrals and following up on cases.
Kituo handed over administrative support material including a laptop, Printer and tonners to Youth Voices Community (YVC) Refugees Justice Centre to facilitate the processing of legal documents at the centre. All these were made possible through the support of Open Society Foundations and Ziviler Friedensdienst / GIZ


Kituo team together with the members from the Global Legal Empowerment Network.

Kituo Cha Sheria hosted a team from the Global Legal Empowerment Network for an exchange visit on 5th October 2022. The Legal Empowerment Network delegation from the North America, Latin America, South East Asia, East and West Africa was led by Abigail Moy, the Director, Legal Empowerment Network. The Network team was received at our Head Office by our Executive Director Dr Annette Mbogoh among staff and community paralegals.

While making her opening remarks, Abigail emphasised on the importance of the network responding to the needs of its members, building capacities and partnerships in enhancing legal empowerment globally. She stressed on the need to enhance the engagement of members especially at grassroots levels, sharing successes and models and advocating for financing for legal empowerment.

On her part, Dr Annette highlighted the milestones that Kituo cha Sheria had achieved as the East Africa Regional Anchor. She added that the core group consisting of members from East and Southern Africa had actively led advocacy initiatives at the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights and the NGO Forum. The core group had also centered its conversation on learning around impact at individual and community levels.

Dr. Annette Mbogoh addressing the team.

In addition, the core group had began reflecting on legal recognition and financing models for community paralegals in Africa. Thereafter the Kituo programmes teams, community based paralegals and the Network Team had an opportunity to share their experiences.
It was agreed that there was a need to enhance and tap on key areas for synergy between network members. access to justice Namati Kenya

Building the Legal Empowerment Movement in Africa Shared Learning, Community Power and Advocacy for Justice

From 19th to 21st July 2022, Kituo cha Sheria in partnership with the Legal Empowerment NetworkInternational Development Research Centre and the African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice, convened a meeting of legal empowerment practitioners from across Africa. The convening, held in Nairobi, Kenya brought together 15 grassroots and national legal empowerment organisations from West, East, Southern and the Horn of Africa.

The objective of the meeting was to begin to build friendships, solidarity, partnerships and a community of practice around legal empowerment in Africa. We aimed to develop a clear roadmap detailing collective priorities, activities, responsibilities and timelines towards enhancing legal empowerment in the continent.

State-of-play of the legal empowerment movement in Africa

The convening began with participants reflecting candidly on the state of affairs of the legal empowerment movement in Africa. The similarities across the continent were striking.

First, practitioners expressed frustration that State actors still do not fully appreciate the immense value-added of community-based justice initiatives.  This is in part because while substantial and impactful work is happening  across the field, we are not doing enough to learn systematically and document and share our achievements, best practices and strategies.  Many practitioners were overwhelmed by the demand for justice within their communities. Given the scale of the challenge, setting time aside to reflect on impact and lessons learnt from the ground is challenging.

Second, the question of recognition of community-based paralegals in the respective countries continues to be a priority. Practitioners shared experiences with legal frameworks enacted in various countries to define and recognize community-based paralegals as critical players in the access to justice chain. We found that countries that have passed such laws have often ended up shrinking the space and curtailing the role of community-based paralegals (for example, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Tanzania). On the other hand, African countries without such laws appeared to have a more liberal approach, emphasising for example, community recognition of paralegals (for example, South Africa). The lack of protection to ensure their security in the line of duty continues to be an urgent challenge.

Third, practitioners continue to face challenges related to the lack of financing for legal empowerment in the continent. While new initiatives towards enhancing funding for access to justice, like the Legal Empowerment Fund, were welcomed, we noted that these funding streams were neither sufficient to meet the needs, nor were they flowing down to communities, due to stringent donor pre-requisites for accessing resources. The high level of external donor dependence across the continent was likened to neo-colonialism. There is a need to decolonize the sector, and to rethink fundraising and resource mobilisation from a point of agency.

Finally, participants agreed that there was a need to strengthen coordination of legal empowerment organisations at regional and sub-regional levels.

Having highlighted the challenges in the African continent within the movement, we discussed ways to address them. The Learning Agenda for Legal Empowerment—which puts forth a set of questions for collective learning across our field– clearly mirrors the pressing issues within the movement in Africa for example, how can we demonstrate our impact? What forms of financing and recognition can help us grow the movement? How can legal empowerment build collective power?

Several organisations among us are undertaking action research and learning efforts to deepen their impact, build community power and address root causes of injustices. These organisations shared their learning with the wider group:

Participants at the Chief’s Office in Kibra, Nairobi

The case studies demonstrated the importance of using participatory action research as an approach to build power among communities, and how learning can generate evidence that improves the effectiveness of legal empowerment programs. In all the case studies, communities are deeply involved in the data collection and analysis, and the learning is being used to drive advocacy efforts. In fact, the essence of learning is to build community power, formulate an evidence-based agenda, build people-driven collective action and thereby bring about long-lasting, transformative systems change.

Continuing the practical, action-oriented learning efforts, we also undertook a study visit to the Kibra Justice Centre, which is run in partnership with Kituo cha Sheria. Participants saw first-hand how community paralegals address justice needs, how they engage with the state (police, local officials) and reflected on the comparative experiences in their respective countries.

The road ahead

On the last day, a clear roadmap was crafted for how we can continue the sharing of experiences, learning, collaboration and advocacy efforts. Practitioners strongly emphasised the need to continue building a community of practice and embracing learning.

We agreed that there is a need to unpack and build consensus around the contested concepts of recognition of paralegals and financing. When we seek recognition of community-based paralegals, what exactly do we mean? Is this formal public recognition alone, or also recognition by communities? We would like to understand how community paralegals work in countries without legal frameworks for recognition. And in countries with restrictive laws, the movement ought to push governments to amend legislation. Learning is crucial so that such advocacy strategies can be founded on empirical studies that document the value and impact of work of community-based paralegals. Tied to this is the need to document the micro successes of state – paralegal collaboration that have had impact  on the justice journeys of ordinary citizens at grassroots level. Are these initiatives scalable and can learnings from these interventions lead to the development of a model “legal empowerment” law that looks at nuanced approaches to recognition and innovative ways of financing?

There is a need to go back to the drawing board and interrogate the best models for financing (public funding, donor funding versus more local and self-sustaining models of funding). The model can then be adapted to specific contexts. It was resolved that practitioners engage with the Legal Empowerment Fund and other development partners so that they can improve the accessibility of financing to local organisations and communities.

Recognizing the centrality of the community paralegal in our movement, participants floated the idea of a reward for impactful paralegal work— the “African Paralegal of the Year” Award.

We also committed to evidence-based advocacy at regional and sub-regional levels. This includes deliberate engagement with the African Union to shape its 2063 Agenda on access to justice to reflect a more people centred approach , and with sub-regional bodies such as the East African Community, Southern Africa Development Cooperation, and ECOWAS.  It was recommended that continental collective action should be coordinated by the African Centre of Excellence, a pan-African organisation which is expanding its membership.

Finally, participants expressed keen interest in continuing to share experiences with each other, deepen our collective efforts towards learning, and do more to document and showcase the impact and value of our work,  including through creative ways like storytelling, using digital media etc. We noted that practitioners may need technical support on intentional and systematic learning, including collecting, interpreting, documenting and showcasing data, and committed to peer-exchange and peer-support within our community of practice to build the necessary skills and knowledge.

In continuing with the energy and solidarity built in this regional meeting, the West Africa Legal Empowerment Network have invited both AMT and the  Citizenship Justice Programme to share in detail how they are using legal empowerment to build community power to the wider West Africa audience. This virtual exchange is due to take place at the end of Oct, 2022.

Paralegals at the Kibra Justice Centre ( L-R : Mary Airo and Jamia Abdulrahim) with a client.

Participating organisations:

  • Paralegal Advisory Services Institute (Malawi)
  • African Centre of Excellence for Access to Justice
  • Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA)- (Uganda)
  • Timap for Justice (Sierra Leone)
  • Legal Aid Forum (Rwanda)
  • Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) (South Africa)
  • Public Interest Law Clinic-Makerere University (Uganda)
  • Paralegal Society of Kenya, Community Advisory Offices of South Africa (CAOSA)
  • South Sudan Law Society (South Sudan)
  • Samburu Women’s Trust (Kenya)
  • Lady Ellen Women’s Aid Foundation (Sierra Leone and Core Member, West Africa Legal Empowerment Network )
  • Children’s Legal Defence Centre (Somaliland)
  • Legal Aid Clinic, University of Hargeisa (Somaliland)
  • Paralegal Alliance Network (Zambia)
  • Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) (Malawi)
  • Kibra Community Justice Centre (Kenya)
  • Akiba Mashinani Trust (Kenya)
  • International Commission of Jurists-Kenya
  • Legal Empowerment Network
  • Namati Citizenship Program (Kenya)
  • Kituo cha Sheria (Kenya)

Writen by: Dr. Annette Mbogoh, Poorvi Chitalkar and Aimee Ongeso


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Contact Info: Head Office - Nairobi

Location: Ole Odume Rd, Off Argwings Kodhek Rd.
Postal Add.: P.O. Box 7483-00300 Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel: 3874191, 3874220, 3876290,
Fax: 3876295
Mobile: +254 734 874 221, +254 727 773 991

Email: info(at)


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