USAID and the EAJ team have determined that in order to deliver effective, contextualized, and relevant interventions aimed at improving justice access, we must be equipped to work across the stabilization continuum. The EAJ program approach, therefore, is directed at delivering tailored activities and resources in early recovery contexts, in which state institutions (including justice sector institutions) have been largely absent and the threat of resurgent and other conflict remains high, and intermediate recovery contexts, where state institutions and authorities have a greater presence and there exist basic levels of security. While we have developed a unitary results framework (see below), our program approach is built on the understanding that the near-term aims of interventions must differ across the stabilization continuum. The target of activities in early recovery districts will be to establish foundational levels of trust among populations and key justice actors and extend access to basic justice services. Interventions in intermediate recovery areas will focus on strengthening more advanced justice services that are part of the plural justice context.
EAJ will remain committed to implementing a user- (i.e. aggrieved party) centered approach to programming. This means expanding the justice pathways available at the community level, increasing awareness about those pathways, and extending legal assistance and accompaniment to aggrieved parties. To achieve these outcomes, we will engage the widest range of actors in generating locally appropriate (and possible) solutions. Furthermore, our program approach is focused on engaging the entire justice chain. While EAJ was originally focused on legal aid as the primary lever for expanding justice access, over the last year we have moved toward a more holistic strategy that includes robust engagement of community actors in helping to shape justice services and in direct technical assistance to justice service providers – hence also engaging in the normative and in the supply side. This shift is especially important as we enter stabilization contexts, as flexible and comprehensive engagement and support to the full range of community and justice actors is required to (re-)establish credibility in the justice system.
Multi-stakeholder engagement and co-creation: We will maintain and deepen our approach to engaging diverse justice actors and stakeholders at the local, regional, and national level. In early recovery areas, we will place emphasis on establishing foundational levels of trust between communities and justice providers. Moving forward, we will support multiple mechanisms that allow community members and justice actors to co-create justice solutions in order to establish justice services that are responsive to local social needs and gain in legitimacy.
Demand-driven technical assistance and capacity development: We will continue to provide robust and flexible technical assistance (TA) and capacity development (CD) to key justice actors, including state institutions, such as the Judiciary, legal aid organizations (LAOs) and civil-society that represent marginalized groups. Project staff will maintain sustained communication with local partners in order to efficiently provide advice, design TA and CD packages, and foster constructive peer exchange.
Subgrants: We will remain focused on putting resources into the hands of justice actors and engage in expanding justice access and strengthening justice services. While providing primary grants to organizations in BRA, SWS, and for the time being in Somaliland, we will make substantial use of flexible small grants to test and scale interventions based on learning, particularly in early recovery areas.
Strategic communication: We will place increased emphasis on strategic communication as we embrace a stabilization approach. We will deploy a multimedia strategy aimed at promoting legal awareness, driving use of justice institutions in the plural environment that promise the best outcome for the aggrieved party, and promoting community engagement in justice co-creation and service delivery improvement efforts as a corollary diverting support for al Shabab-provided justice services.
Research and analysis: We will focus on generating practical research and contextual analysis that cultivate tight feedback loops and support project decision making. This will mean conducting rapid assessments of local needs and opportunities as the project enters new communities. It will also involve continuing everyday Applied Political Economy Analysis (APEA) led by deployed research sentinels.
In adopting a stabilization approach, the EAJ team understands that programmatic success depends on a sound operational approach. We are substantially retooling our delivery structure to ensure context-driven implementation, particularly in early recovery areas, and effective integration of project components. Key elements of our operational approach will include:
- Establishment of an operational center in Mogadishu: We will establish a nerve center in Mogadishu and a satellite operational center in Baidoa. While some key back-end support functions will continue to sit in Nairobi, the majority of technical staff will be based in Mogadishu, with linkages to a field office in SWS. The operational center will allow for real-time justice advice to aggrieved parties, particularly in early recovery areas, which will consist of formal legal and shari’ah expertise. Its staff will liaise closely with partners and researchers that have in-depth socio-political understanding of the respective localities and ensure that their justice advice is relevant in particular localities.
- Organization around service units: EAJ was previously organized around ‘components,’ which aligned with the original project objectives. In order to foster a more integrated approach, the project team will be organized around ‘service units’, including research and analysis, capacity development, technical legal support, and grants services , which contribute across all project objectives.
- Security approach: EAJ’s safety-first approach is directed by its Safety Plans and linked to Pact Inc.’s global security mechanism. EAJ will combine the use of in-house security, and extend the contracting of its current security firm, Vates Corp, to provide office and travel security in its work in BRA and SWS. Safety assessments will be undertaken during all operational center meetings to inform all program decision-making.
- Harm mitigation: Despite our robust security approach, deploying a stabilization approach presents key programmatic risks. In operating in early recovery areas, we will necessarily forfeit some of our autonomy as we operate within an environment at least initially under the control of the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs-led recovery groups and security forces. In an environment marked by complex and often hidden conflict dynamics, we recognize that information will likely be imperfect. However, we will maintain a protection and harm mitigation strategy. This will include rigorous contextual analysis of the respective localities in order to understand underpinning political economies, conflict dynamics, and potential dynamics of corruption.