Somalia: Consultant for Access to Justice Assessment Tool (AJAT) Baseline Study in Somalia


The Expanding Access to Justice Program (EAJ) is a five-year associate award (2018–2023), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) via the Freedom House-led Human Rights Support Mechanism (HRSM) and implemented in partnership between Pact and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ROLI), that aims to improve access to justice and mechanisms to address grievances in Somalia and Somaliland.

The three main project objectives are 1) Improved public access to legal information through research, analysis, and policy interventions, 2) Enhanced quality and reach of legal aid services, 3) Increased capacity and sustainability of access to justice actors. Focusing on support to legal aid, the EAJ is occupying a niche, which allows engagements at the community level that is designed to support citizens in navigating Somalia’s plural legal structures; engagements with government and other stakeholders with a view to strengthen networks supporting legal aid; and the development of a strong demand side for justice.

The EAJ Program is currently commencing activities in Benadir Region (BRA) and is planning to undertake activities in Jubaland, South West State and Puntland in Year 2. Its approach takes into consideration the legally pluralistic and often political character of justice services in Somalia. Rather than focusing on the strengthening of formal institutions and capacities only, the program supports aggrieved individuals or groups in identifying the justice institutions and authorities with the most promising rights-based outcome for their grievance. While statutory and Islamic Law will be key conduits of right-based solutions, the EAJ Program also aims at supporting normative and behavioral change at the local level. This should eventually result in changed attitudes of local justice providers.

The Conceptual Model of the EAJ includes six key elements, which are based on ABA’s Access to Justice Assessment Tool (AJAT), namely: 1) Legal and Policy Framework, 2) Legal Knowledge and Confidence, 3) Citizens Can Obtain Advice and Representation, 4) Citizens Not Impeded from Justice Forums, 5) Justice Mechanisms Address Grievances Efficiently and Fairly, and 6) Solutions are Enforceable.

The EAJ Research Team seeks an experienced consultant to lead on its Baseline study in BRA, Jubaland, South West State and Puntland.

Key Objective and Purpose

The EAJ Program Goal is ‘Lasting improvements in access to justice and effective mechanisms to address grievances’. Goal indicator 1 is the ‘Access to Justice Assessment Tool score’, which also forms an HRSM-wide indicator (O3-R2-01), of which the EAJ is part.

This quantitative and qualitative baseline data collection for the EAJ activities in Somalia will serve the following purposes:

1) Establish baseline data to measure EAJ interventions in BRA, Jubaland, South West State and Puntland;

2) Inform EAJ programming design and activities. In order to support legal aid and legal empowerment processes at the local level, in-depth understanding of the plural justice landscape and the perspectives and behavior of justice seekers is essential. This study will therefore focus on the reality of justice services by investigating perspectives and experiences of individuals or groups (and those who assist them) that search for redress of their grievances or conflicts. Based on these insights, the study will a) feed into the design of training manuals for lawyers, paralegals and CBPs, that are based on concrete knowledge gaps or needs of justice seekers; b) inform advocacy processes by legal aid suppliers in view of policy or legislative change; c) inform the Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice at federal and state level and other official actors on gaps and challenges in the provision of formal legal aid services as well as judicial services.


The data collection for this research will be based on a set of qualitative and quantitative tools, which are most appropriate to understand the current status of the six AJAT elements and allow for the responses to form the baseline data for the EAJ in Somalia, as well as understand user perspectives and receive explanations for their actions and perceptions. A similar set of quantitative and qualitative tools has been tested out in a baseline study in Somaliland. For this study, lessons learnt from the research process in Somaliland will be incorporated. These included the need for a shorter survey questionnaire and the simplification of some language in the questionnaire.

Research tools will include:

Legal Review: A brief legal review will help to assess the current state of AJAT element 1 on legal frameworks. This will mostly cover statutory and Islamic Law – in view of selected thematic areas, while other tools will be used to clarify normative systems as they underpin current informal justice processes.

Quantitative Survey: A perception survey will allow quantitative insights into the current perception that users have of justice provision, availability of advice, fairness of justice processes etc…

Case studies: Most importantly, this research aims to understand a whole chain of actions and how an individual or a group navigate information, authorities, political incentives, and different normative understanding in order to identify and reach solutions or outcomes that best represent their interests or their perception of fairness. Such insights can best be facilitated through case studies. Researchers will identify grievances or conflicts and aim to describe their essence, trajectory, people or groups involved, institutions addressed, as well as outcomes and impacts. They will embed such cases in understanding of the local power structures and political economies.

This will allow researchers to not only ask abstract questions about perceptions, but to also use real cases to show what people’s perspectives, perception, but also actions were that led them to take certain decisions. Case studies will reveal user perspectives and actions without only focusing on their perception.

Most case study data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with affected individuals or groups, or with individuals from the community, in which a grievance and a justice process took place.

Semi-Structured interviews: Additional information can be gathered through interviews with justice authorities or other key actors and powerholders, or relevant documentation. People on the ‘outside’ of a case can provide their perspectives and opinions through such interviews; and contextual information – on power structures, political economies, religious or cultural elements – can be obtained from relevant resource persons. Through interviews with key justice actors, CSOs and government representatives, key services in the research locations will be mapped. This will show the current state of available services. Semi-structured interviews will further allow researchers to map social, kin and power structures and networks within the communities, in which they collect case study material. These maps will help to establish important background and political economy information for grievances, conflicts and justice processes.

Research Locations

The research will be undertaken in eight districts of BRA – suitable for in-depth qualitative insights as well as quantitative representation, as well as in selected areas of Jubaland, South West State and Puntland. The districts and locations will be selected on the basis of accessibility and security. This will allow to retain the possibility of a longitudinal study, in which the EAJ can invest in research in the same locations after a span of time, in order to detect possible changes in attitudes and behaviors, impacts of new justice institutions or authorities, as well as impacts of EAJ programming undertaken in those locations. It will also allow for the gathering of endline

data in the same locations. Data will be disaggregated as per State, in order to understand differences in findings between the four different locations.

In order to gain insights into different contexts, the locations will cover urban, peri-urban, rural and IDP sites in each State – where possibly.

Research Team

The expert consultant will lead the study. Field research will be undertaken by a Somalia-based research organization. The research will be overseen and supported by the EAJ Research and Learning Team Lead. The expert consultant will help to adjust the detailed research protocol available from the baseline study in Somaliland to the Somalia context. He or she will prepare and train the field researchers in the detailed research questions, the overall purpose of the study, and key research tools; as well as conduct the necessary desk reviews, including the legal analysis. The research company will provide solid planning and design of the perception survey, as well as of the qualitative tools, and oversee the field researchers and be responsible for all logistical and security issues. After the collection of field data, the research company will be responsible for the analysis of the quantitative data, and the consultant will be mainly responsible for the analysis of the qualitative and overall data, with help from the research company and its researchers.

The expert consultant will produce a draft and a final report presenting the analysis of the field data. The team will further draw on the EAJ Regional Expert in BRA, and other knowledgeable staff of the EAJ, for additional political economy and contextual knowledge. The final results will be discussed with EAJ partners in Somalia to jointly develop actionable recommendations, Program approaches and activities.

Experience of Expert Consultant

  • Masters Degree in Social Science, Law or related field

  • In-depth knowledge about Somalia’s socio-political landscape

  • Experience in quantitative and qualitative research

  • Excellent English writing skills.

Period of Consultancy

  • 50 working days between 15 Sept. and 31 Jan.
  • Supervision
  • The consultant will report to the EAJ Research Team Leader

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