Kenya has a population of over 50 million people, of which about 8,000 are practising lawyers, making the ratio of lawyers to the population approximately one lawyer for every 5,500 people. Majority of Kenyans, due to an array of socio-economic inequalities, legal and political factors, are unable to access justice. Poverty is prevalent due to Kenya’s unequal wealth distribution. Disadvantaged groups are more susceptible to legal problems due to uneven exposure to circumstances that give rise to legal and social problems thus lowering their ability to mitigate. A baseline survey report conducted by Society for International Development (SID) reveals low public participation in judicial processes, 76% of Kenyans find the costs of litigation prohibitive and only 30% have access to legal representation. Government-sponsored legal aid via the National Legal Aid Service (NLAS) is virtually non-existent due to its sole reliance on volunteer pro-bono work, insufficient funding and restrictions in law areas covered. Legal aid providers are located mainly in large cities and lack the resources and capacity to represent the large number of Kenyans in need of legal advice. The Access to Justice Project seeks to adopt a people-centric approach which allows the end-users of our services to voice their demands and needs and an opportunity to actively contribute to shaping policy agenda that affect them and evaluate service content and delivery. The project will also promote the concept of “legal health” as a way of empowering people to take charge of their legal affairs as a preventative strategy through legal health check-ups where users are given legal assistance concerning everyday legal problems on various topics. The Access to Justice project will do this via legal checklists designed to act as diagnostic tools to be directly used by individuals and service providers. We also employ an all-rounded sustainability approach through partnering with local government and authorities to expand the range of services we can offer our users and increase our capacity to effectively handle legal needs that have strong social conditions such as poverty and gender-based violence. The project seeks to expose patterns of how inequality and explore solutions to alter inequality in local communities, nationwide and globally.
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