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Developing a portfolio of financially sustainable, scalable basic legal service models – Briefing paper

This briefing paper summarises the findings of a recent study funded by the Open Society Foundations and International Development Research Centre which, against the backdrop of the Sustainable Goals for Development (SDGs), develops a framework for thinking about how basic legal service interventions can be taken to scale in a sustainable manner to enable improved access to justice for people living in the most vulnerable Low Income Countries (LICs) and Fragile and Conflict-Affected States (FCAS). In particular, it considers whether the cost of basic legal service provision is affordable in non-OECD countries and the range of financing options available for scaling up delivery. In doing so the paper sets out – and seeks to inform and encourage further debate of – an approach to calculating the costs of taking particular interventions to scale and to identifying suitable sources of finance.

The evidence suggests that only a relatively small proportion of programmes that aim to provide services to the poor are able successfully to reach scale and sustainability. The successful examples which do exist are examples of narrowly targeted solutions to specific challenges in the health and education sectors – for example, water sanitation to reduce childhood mortality and conditional cash transfers to encourage school attendance. By contrast, Tom Carothers’ 2003 assessment of donor engagement in the justice sector/rule of law sector, that “examples of significant, positive sustained impacts are few” remains true today.

Indeed, donor funding to the justice sector has, historically, been comparatively low; for the period 2005-2013 justice sector funding comprised only 1.8% of total aid flows, compared with 7.4% and 7.5% for the health and education sectors respectively.

The full report from the original study is found here.

Resource Tags

Resource Type: Practitioner Resources Issues: Community Paralegals, Generalist Legal Services Tool Type: Policy Papers / Briefs Method: Research Languages: English Regions: > Global